I’ve been reviewing the history of organizations, looking at ways humans have evolved how they work together, including tribal and agrarian organizations, and more modern models currently in use in institutions and businesses.
I am curious about how we might organize business so we can work more successfully in the 21st century. In my work as a coach, I am faced with the obstacles we encounter in our current organizational models:
- Traditional organizational hierarchies
- Incentives that fail to motivate
- Disengaged employees (two-thirds of the workforce)
- A system that overcompensates management while undervaluing frontline workers
Might there be better ways?
Author Frederic Laloux certainly thinks so. In Reinventing Organizations: A Guide to Creating Organizations Inspired by the Next Stage of Human Consciousness, he studied a dozen companies who are using new principles to work together.
The next stage of human consciousness corresponds to Maslow’s self-actualizing level and has been variously labeled “authentic,” “integral” or “Evolutionary-Teal.” People transitioning to Teal deal with the world in more complex and refined ways. For example:
- The shift to Conformist-Amber happens when Impulsive-Red internalizes rules that allow them to disidentify from impulsively satisfying their needs.
- The shift to Achievement-Orange happens when Amber disidentifies from group norms.
- The shift to Evolutionary-Teal happens when we learn to disidentify from our own ego.
When we minimize the need to control, to look good, to be right and to fit in, we are no longer fused with ego. We refuse to let fears reflexively control our lives. We listen for wisdom in others and to the deeper parts of ourselves.
The fears of the ego are replaced by a capacity to trust the abundance of life. With this belief, if something unexpected happens or if we make mistakes, we are confident things will turn out all right. (And when they don’t, we believe life will give us an opportunity to learn and grow.)
- In Impulsive-Red, a good decision is the one that gets me what I want.
- In Conformist-Amber, decisions conform to rules and social norms.
- In Achievement-Orange, decision yardsticks are effectiveness and success.
- In Pluralistic-Green, decisions are judged by the criteria of belonging and harmony.
In Evolutionary-Teal, we are concerned with inner rightness: Does this decision seem right? Am I of service to the world? Does my decision resonate with my deep inner convictions?
In Teal, we do not pursue recognition, success, wealth and belonging to live a good life; we pursue a life well lived. Our ultimate goals are reimagined:
- To become the truest expression of ourselves
- To live into authentic selfhood
- To honor our gifts and calling
- To be of service to humanity