A Teal Manifesto
A vision for the future of organizations
In his book Reinventing Organizations, Frederic Laloux defines the different paradigms in organizational development to a specific color starting with red, moving on to amber, orange, green and finally teal. Teal organizations are the most developed and can be considered the adult compared to the red infant organization.
His book analyses a number of organizations and he defines the main characteristics of organizations operating from a teal paradigm, but he doesn’t specify a manifesto for these organizations as such, and this post aims to start that process, by defining the four most important values and inviting input and discussion to refine it.
Purpose over Profit
Most importantly, an organization operating from a teal paradigm puts purpose at the forefront of the organization’s existence, starting with why. The purpose of a teal organization drives the decisions and the structure of the organization and profit is more the result of the work than the goal in itself.
That doesn’t mean profit is not important, it means that decisions are governed more by purpose than by profit.
The purpose of a teal organization is usually evolutionary and meaningful, providing a much needed service or solving a problem, like Buurtzorg, one of the organizations considered by Laloux as operating from a teal paradigm, who aims to change the nursing service in the Netherlands to focus on the needs of the patients first and improving their quality of live through caring service.
Soul over Role
In most organizations preceding teal, the roles are the primary driver that determines the structure and people need to bend to fit into roles which are not necessarily a true fit for them personally — both skills and personality wise.
In organizations operating from a teal perspective, the people’s skills and needs are considered more important than the role. This means that there are no hard and fast roles where in order to succeed an individual has to master all the skills required by that role. It also means that roles are more personalized with the person fulfilling the role in the organization is viewed as a puzzle piece that is needed to fill a specific skills gap. There is an overlap between the organizational needs and the individual’s needs.
It also means that work and personal life aren’t separated and the emotional, physical and spirtual needs of the individuals are included in the work environment.
Sensing and Responding over Predicting and Controlling
Teal organizations are organizations who value equilibrium with its surroundings, always aiming to remain in harmony with the environment. Rather than trying to predict and control the environment, it moves in harmony with it, embracing the changes and reacting to these changes.
Art over Automation
In organizations operating primarily from a teal perspectives, everything is viewed as an art. Leaderhip as an art, nursing as an art, producing products as an art. Where during the industrial age quality was mainly measured by the ability to produce exact replicas, during the knowledge age, personalization is what differentiates one organization from the next.
It uses technology to improve and augment, and where a job can be automated, it is, with the goal of freeing up the resources to do more creative work than boring and repetitive work that no-one wants to do and a machine is better at.
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