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.

Grounding after elation

This past weekend was all about launching my podcast. I have tweeted, posted and shared more than I ever have, and have got some great feedback. I have been on a high - partly because it is something I have been working on for about 6 months and it is so satisfying to see it materialise. And partly because I am getting some pats on the back and encouragement for my efforts.

Today though I have felt the need to allow myself to come down from this emotional high. A moment to stop and watch a film and not do too much work.

I have not been very successful. I am obsessed with checking download stats and wanting people to share my stuff. Then I remembered my friend talking about Zen habits, and this article.

I want to remember why I am doing this podcast. It is not for adulation. It is not for success. It is because I wanted to meet people who were doing really cool, purposeful stuff; I wanted to tell their stories; and I wanted a community of people to be encouraged by their stories.

So that is what I focus on. Helping people by hearing and sharing their stories.


Preparing like an athlete

Last night I watched the Cristiano Ronaldo documentary. I have been thinking a lot about sports people recently, particularly how they are focused on their goal of getting the best out of their bodies, and on winning. I used to be quite focused on sport as a kid, and I have been revisiting that stage in my life.

The documentary was pretty good - well put together, polished. However I found that it didn't really get behind the scenes of why he is the way he is. Why he is so concerned about external recognition. Why he has to be the best, to win. I did love how focused he is, how dedicated he is to being his best, how he has been willing to sacrifice to achieve what he has.

For me the pondering of athletes has been about reflecting on what I am trying to achieve, and to what lengths am I willing to go to give myself the best chance of achieving this. I think in many ways I am a late starter in understanding and following my quest, which means I need to be vigilant in preparing for it and following it.

My quest is to be present in each moment I live, to be completely aware of all aspects of myself, and to bring into being that which only the most authentic me can bring into being. The practical out workings of this are currently telling the stories of those who are also on this quest, of creating a delightful product that will support emerging artists, and of creating work places that are good for people's wellbeing.

My training involves a daily routine of meditation, exercise, nutritious food, learning, expressing, loving, and putting myself in uncertain and uncomfortable situations.

What comes out of this process, what the exact results are, are to an extent irrelevant. They will take care of themselves.

Laundry List Item 11: You have the responsibility to do your best nonetheless.

Thinking about doing my best today on a day when I don't have anything planned or have any particular desires, feels perplexing. I have no plans for the rest of this Saturday. It feels open and a bit scary. I also feel like the day could pass by quickly without me doing anything purposeful at all, let alone my best purposeful.

So I will come up a with a plan as I write this blog post. Step 1 is to meditate and write in my journal. Step 2 is to exercise. Step 3 is to eat something nutritious. Step 4 is to then feel what seems to be the best thing I could do with the rest of my afternoon and evening. 

Let's see how I go.

Disjointed commitment

I have made a commitment to myself to write a blog post every day until further notice. Today that means I am struggling for a topic I consider worthy of writing about. That is not to say I have not had anything interesting happening in the past 24 hours. There has been plenty.

For example, I have felt like my exercise in trying to develop a new food product is destined to be too hard and expensive. I have felt like my new life as a single, part-time dad who is trying to live with meaning and purpose is unrealistic and naive. And then for all those feelings to reverse again, and me thinking that just maybe those things I yearn for and feel in my guts are possible.

As I meditated last night I wept. Grief is catching up with me today.

I will continue in my commitment to write a blog post every day, even if it is disjointed and lacking in profound truth.