Culture using Wilber’s 4Q model

As I promised last week, I want to share another interesting insight from Reinventing Organizations, specifically about culture.

Laloux found an interesting application to Wilber’s “four quadrants” model in the context of organization culture. Wilber argues that in order to fully comprehend a phenomenon we must look at it from four different facets: objectively from the outside (objective, measurable) but also sense it from the inside (thoughts, feelings); look at it in isolation (individual dimension) but also in its broader context (collective dimension).

Sounds abstract to borderline useless. But then Laloux waves his magic wand of practicality and turns it into something useful:

Laloux argues that in order to fully comprehend an organization, we must look at four things (left 2×2): people’s beliefs and mindsets; people’s behaviors; the organizational culture; and the organizational structures, processes and practices. This is demonstrated with an example from an “achievement paradigm” organization (middle 2×2). Finally, in order to help shape the emergent culture of the organization, three avenues can be pursued (right 2×2): putting supportive structures, processes and practices; ensuring that people with moral authority role-model the behavior associated with the culture; and inviting people to explore how their personal belief system supports or undermines the culture.

A final interesting insight that Laloux shares is that often times, the reason that culture is so hard to maintain, is because it is at odds with the other three facets of the organization. For example: maintaining a culture of empowerment within a hierarchically structured organization…

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