The Teal Organization

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Our time is marked by three major fractures: 

  • Ecological: the large-scale destruction of the environment and nature. Every year we consume on average one and a half times the regenerative capacity of the earth. 
  • Social: abhorrent levels of inequality and fragmentation leading to the destruction of social unity. On the planet, 8 billionaires own as much as the poorest half of humanity, i.e. 3.8 billion people. 
  • Spiritual: the steady growth in the number of burnouts and depressions leads to a generalized loss of meaning and the destruction of the Self. 800,000 people commit suicide every year in the world. The number of deaths directly or indirectly related to drugs is estimated at 494,000 in 2019 alone, an increase of 17.5% in ten years. 

To respond effectively to these major global problems, we need effective organizations, both at the national and international levels. An effective organization is one that is able to identify problems and come up with consensual and useful responses that are approved and supported by the majority of people. The problem is that the majority of human organizations, whether they are companies, political organizations or religious organizations, use structures and operating methods that have not progressed for hundreds, even thousands of years. 

This is what Frédéric Laloux analyzes in his book "Reinventing Organizations" (Nelson Parke, 2014). Examples? 

  • The Catholic Church still operates on an organizational model that originated in Mesopotamia, 4000 years before our era, a stratified society of rigid castes based on a mythology and revealed rules governing good and evil, with an autocratic and bureaucratic pyramid structure. 
  • This pyramidal structure is still prevalent, even in democracies. We know something about it in France, where the system of the Fifth Republic makes almost all decisions go up to the level of the President of the Republic; hence the persistence of recurring problems that seem insoluble. 
  • The scientific and industrial revolution gave birth to the capitalist enterprise. It is thought of as a machine and uses an engineer's language: units and levels, inputs and parts, output and efficiency, levers to activate and censors to move... In the company, human beings are considered as resources carefully positioned like cogs in a machine. The management mantra of the company is based on competition and innovation. Once basic needs have been met, the focus is on creating new ones. Growth for growth's sake is sought, overexploiting natural resources and destroying vital ecosystems. "The mechanical metaphor," writes Frédéric Laloux, "reveals the energy and dynamism of this type of organization, but also shows how dead and soulless it is. » 

The proponents of the capitalist enterprise, the "experts" of management, claim to correct old bureaucratic structures such as schools and hospitals by introducing corporate methods that have already proven their limits. This is the main reason for the crisis in the school and health care system that we are facing today. 

Based on the results of years of research, Frederic Laloux announces the birth of a new type of organization - the « Teal » organization - based on three major advances: 

  • Self-governance: pyramidal and bureaucratic hierarchies are transformed into fluid and efficient systems of distributed authority and collective intelligence. 
  • Wholeness: new processes allow members to drop their professional masks, claim their integrity and come to work as they are. "We release a tremendous amount of energy when we drop the mask and be fully ourselves." Writes Frederic Laloux. 
  • Evolutionary purpose: instead of trying to predict and control the future, members are invited to understand what the organization will become and where it will naturally go. 

Frédéric Laloux's book opens up a new way of thinking about the future in the face of the seemingly intractable problems of the modern world. 

Dominique Bénard

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