What I learnt: Reinventing Organisations

There is a theory of organisational development. This is not a theory about how a particular organisation develops, but rather a theory of how organisations have evolved through history. Starting with the family, through to the tribe, the city, the state, the church, through to the organisations we see today.

Each stage of evolution is marked by my certain characteristics and has an epitomising metaphor. In the book, each type of organisation is assigned a colour.

Amber (army): Roles and ranks within a hierarchy
Orange (machine): Competition, innovation and performance
Green (family): Values-driven and inclusive
Teal (a living system): Evolutionary purpose, self-management, bring the whole self

In the book about this, Reinventing Organisationsthe author, Frederick Laloux, posits that the current dominant modes of organising ourselves, Orange and Green, have limitations that are impacting our planet, restricting good work being done, and harming the individuals who work there.

A new type of organisation is required, and there are signs it is emerging. From business to hospitals and schools, the author has studied about 12 different organisations that seem to be something quite different to what has come previously and may point to a new paradigm.

There are three main characteristics of these organisations:


1) They have self-managment
The management layers of the organisations have been removed. Teams are self-organising, taking care of many of 'admin' type tasks with only a small amount of these being centralised.

Teams work out how they want to work, and because they have bought into the purpose of the organisation (and help define it), they can sense and respond to make necessary changes.

2) They have an evolutionary purpose.
There is a detachment between those that work in the organisation and the organisation itself. The organisation is seen as a living thing in its own right, one that has a purpose and energy of its own that wants to be expressed in the universe. The role of those who are part of the organisation is to be more like stewards than owners or controllers. They need to constantly ask themselves what is trying to emerge here, and how can they be in service of that?

3) They bring their own self to work.
These organisations see all the aspects that make up a person, and they encourage and want people to bring all of this to work with them. This means that the being together, and the wellbeing of everyone, is at the forefront of all they do. 

I am excited and encourage by this way of thinking. I can see that a new way of being in the world is emerging. Some call this a new consciousness. There are a number of different ways people are partnering with this to help it come into being. Some are doing coaching and facilitation work. Some are doing mindfulness and movement work. Some are creating permaculture farms. Some are writing books.

I see my contribution to this as being to help bring new organisations into being. To work within organisations and with individuals to help them sense what is emerging, and then partner with them to move the organisation closer to a 'Teal' organisation.

I have had attempts at doing this, and have seen some of this in action. My task is to get better at leading with my heart, and putting myself in situations where I can help this to happen.

The position of our species

Homo sapiens, the species I am part of, current sits at the apex of life on earth, and perhaps the universe. Or that is what I believe and that is how it looks from where I sit.

It has not always been the case. In cosmic timescales, it was a blink ago that we were roaming the plains, fighting for our survival with many other mammals. Now we sit above them all, and our attention has turned to how well we can live, as opposed to just try to live by any means we could.

Other animals have become tools for us to harness in our quest to live as well as we can. Their existence goes on, but is impacted by the value we place on our existence over theirs.

A book called Homo Deus has challenged my thinking about my place in the hierarchy of species. The main reason for this is that it is under threat. Not so much from human induced climate change, but from technological progress. We may be super-seeded before we are made extinct. 

My minds wonders about how Homo sapiens will cope with no longer being at the top. How our existence will change. How we will be treated by that which super-seeds us.

The questions in my head are: Are we a stepping stone to something great than us? What is the best contribution our species can make? How can we live well now for the benefit of all life on this planet, and serve those species and beings that are to come over the coming centuries?