Paradoxes of Evolutionary Teal Organizations

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Paradoxes of Evolutionary Teal Organizations

Why “teal paradigm” is so hard to achieve in companies all over the world, which companies will never rise to the higher stage of development and which ones are already close to the “teal future” and with the help of what can they significantly advance in this direction?. CleverControl talked about these issues with HR expert Denise Olson.

– Denise, what is this “teal future” that is promised to companies at their highest stage of development?

– Teal future of the organization becomes possible when the teal evolutionary paradigm is implemented in their practice. The foundation of a teal organization appears to be quite paradoxical at first glance.

So, the cornerstones of this stage of organizational development are self-management, wholeness, and evolutionary purpose.

In modern business, it is quite difficult to imagine organizations that are almost entirely deprived of any hierarchical pyramids and the organizational structure is a system based on the cooperation of equal colleagues who in the moment of need seek the help of… no, not a Manager but a coach.

The coach is someone who has no authority of power, does not have any special responsibility, who usually works on multiple teams simultaneously and has no right to make any decisions for the team, even if he or she is convinced that he or she knows the best course of action. The coach is completely devoid of any signs of so familiar to us hierarchical authority.

In this position, the team is self-managed and self-organized. And here is the first paradox: the organization becomes only stronger.

Of course, we should not delude ourselves that the complete absence of a management team in a company will immediately give similar results. It definitely will not. To start with, for example, each new employee of such organization and every newly formed team must undergo special training – training to work in the conditions of self-management, the foundations of which the most important knowledge about the interaction between people, how to effectively make decisions in a group, and to be able to listen and hear the interlocutor and much more. Moreover, measures of the preparation and maintenance of teal paradigm are not limited to this. The transition to such a paradigm is a serious evolutionary step in consciousness, first and foremost. After all, we must learn to live with this amount of freedom and responsibility, and it’s not easy.

There are no middle or even top managers, no reports and meetings unless they are required to solve some important questions for employees. The organization becomes a living organism, functioning on the basis of the strengths of its members. If there is ever any hierarchy present it can only be spontaneous – as a result of the recognition of experience and skills. 

Another important principle of teal organizations is wholeness. This feature encourages employees to be themselves, access their inner integrity, and not pretend someone they are not. There is no need to wear a mask. No one disparages the value of a human being with his or her strengths and weaknesses, everybody is accepted as a rightful member of the team whose best abilities are always welcome, and the inability to do something is not condemned.

Team members with varying frequency (as a rule, annually) evaluate the results of each other’s activities on the basis of competencies which they have developed. They make yearly plans of initiatives, take part in projects which they initiated while also taking on certain roles in them. All the while, the central company’s unit is always kept to a minimum and only performs a supporting function.

Finally, the third fundamental principle of the teal paradigm is the evolutionary purpose. No wonder Frederic Laloux has named teal the evolutionary paradigm, the essence of which is, first and foremost, the evolution of consciousness. A certain impulse of the development allows you to develop a more nuanced and complicated ways of interacting with the world than usual.

What is so attractive in the “teal future of the organization”? It does not set itself the goal of improving the competitiveness or the achievement of high profitability of enterprises. So then what this future gives to the people – the investors and the employees?

The response is also paradoxically simple. It gives freedom in its pure form: devoid of the taste of material goods and based on the realization of the vocation and talents. And it is not because teal companies do not earn anything. Another paradox is that teal organizations practicing and implementing the principles of the teal paradigm can become completely inaccessible to the competitors, increasing their market value tens or even hundreds of times because they are better able to see the environment in which they operate. Principles become the driving force behind such organizations: to listen to yourself, work on your calling, realize your talents to the full. They are far from corporate wars and political games, red tape, and endless meetings. All of this is meaningless. Each team member listens to his or her own needs, tries to understand what he or she wants, what the company “wants”, and to what goal they go together.

All of these components are connected together to form a complete system in which there is no lack of motivation, and thus for employees “the sky’s the limit”.

– What is your forecast: when can we approach this “teal future”? Which companies have a better chance of achieving?

– The creation or transformation of already existing organizations on the basis of the teal paradigm requires huge system changes and remarkable effort of the entire team. But the possibility of implementing these changes depends on the interests of two categories of people – company owners and top management.

Therefore, the main condition for the creation of teal enterprises is the unity of world perception by owners and managers of these enterprises. Everything else is just a matter of logistics.

Of course, following the logic of the management evolution, those companies which are already on the green stage will find evolving to the teal the easiest. They accustomed to the extension of employee responsibility, corporate culture, mission and values shared by all, and high motivation. However, there is no doubt in the fact that any company is able to get to the teal stage if it wants to.

– Which companies are the farthest from the dream?

– The company that looks for immediate benefits, without thinking about the consequences are hardly even close to what I call the “teal future.” If the company’s work is based on the principle of “profit at any cost”, and relationships with employees are formed according to “use to the max – throw away” principle this company not only will never reach the evolutionary teal stage but is unlikely to achieve high financial performance. The economic effect of such enterprises (if any) is only a temporary occurrence.

– What is your personal opinion on the highest stage of development of any company? Describe the ideal and what specific steps to take to achieve it.

– Companies that have achieved the highest stage of self-development are unlikely to realize it and they certainly won’t stop. After all, the principle of self-management is one of the fundamental for this form of organization. This means that their development will continue.

In addition, they will have their own unique culture, which will be expressed in both the external attributes (when employees decide what will be the design and décor in their office, whether they will have a strict business dress code or will it develop spontaneously based on how all the employees dress) as well as the internal ones (the very essence of the culture built on trust, openness, security, accountability and integrity).

There is no universal plan with specific steps required to achieve the teal stage, in my opinion, it does not exist.

The secret lies in the evolutionary development of consciousness, when everyone – from the owner of the company to an ordinary employee – seeks to live a decent life, professing high moral principles and deeply listening to oneself, preferring to build and respecting the others, not burying one’s talents, and knowing what one lives for.

And no matter how pompous it may sound, it is the only possible way to achieve the teal level of development.

You can start today with two simple questions: “Am I true to myself in my work? Have I betrayed my vocation?”

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