- Paperback: 378 pages
- Publisher: Nelson Parker; 1st edition (February 10, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 2960133501
- ISBN-13: 978-2960133509
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 234 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,310 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Reinventing Organizations Paperback – February 10, 2014
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"Congratulations on a spectacular treatise! This is truly pioneering work. In terms of integral sophistication, there is simply nothing like it out there."
--Ken Wilber, from the Foreword
"The most exciting book I've read in years on organization design and leadership models."
--Jenny Wade, Ph.D., Author of Changes of Mind
"A book like Reinventing Organizations only comes along once in a decade. Sweeping and brilliant in scope, it is the Good To Great for a more enlightened age.
What it reveals about the organizational model of the future is exhilarating and deeply hopeful."
--Norman Wolfe, Author of The Living Organization
"A comprehensive, highly practical account of the emergent worldview in business. Everything you need to know about building a new paradigm organization!"
--Richard Barrett, Chairman and Founder, Barrett Values Center
"Frederic Laloux has done business people and professionals everywhere a signal service. He has discovered a better future for organizations by describing, in useful detail, the unusual best practices of today."
--Bill Torbert, Author of Action Inquiry
"As the rate of change escalates exponentially, the old ways of organizing and educating, which were designed for efficiency and repetition, are dying. Frederic Laloux is one of the few management leaders exploring what comes next. It's deeply different."
--Bill Drayton, Founder, Ashoka: Innovators for the Public --Advance praise
About the Author
Frederic Laloux works as an adviser, coach, and facilitator for corporate leaders who feel called to explore fundamentally new ways of organizing. A former Associate Partner with McKinsey & Company, he holds an MBA from INSEAD and a degree in coaching from Newfield Network in Boulder, Colorado.
His groundbreaking research in the field of emerging organizational models has been described as groundbreaking, brilliant, spectacular, impressive, and world-changing by some of the most respected scholars in the field of human development. Frederic Laloux lives in Brussels, Belgium, with his wife, Hélène, and their two children.
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Building on this evolutionary paradigm structure, Laloux discusses his research findings on 12 teal organizations in both for-profit and nonprofit arenas. At first, the practices and structures of these organizations seemed radical to me as someone who is new concepts such as Spiral Dynamics, Integral Theory, and self-management. With that said, the stories of how these organizations are structured and how they function are fascinating and have profound implications for how other organizations could operate if the conditions are ripe. When reading the book, I often felt simultaneously inspired by the possibility of surpassing “business as usual” using evolutionary teal practices and frustrated that the transformation to this new paradigm is currently unlikely in most settings given a strict adherence to hierarchy and power structures.
The main disappointment from Reinventing Organizations is that Laloux declares--only towards the end of the book--that building an evolutionary “teal” organization is only possible if the CEO and owners/board of directors fully support the structures and practices of teal organizations. Furthermore, he explains that he has not found an organization that is segmented with part of the organization functioning with teal practices and the remaining segments functioning in more traditional, hierarchical ways. While this conclusion is not surprising, it left me wanting a different outcome from the research. The “consolation prize” Laloux offers is to encourage organizations with CEOs and owners who do not support teal practices to strive to create more healthy practices within their current paradigm. There are many examples throughout the book of practices that could be adapted within the limitations of green, amber, or orange organizations.
The book is easy to read overall, although lengthy at times and dense in the opening chapters, and is directed toward practitioners, not researchers or academics. While Laloux presents a substantial list of research questions in the appendix, he does not describe his methodology or analysis techniques in the book. Anyone who is part of an organization and open to a different way of operating that enables people to bring a sense of wholeness to their work should consider reading and applying ideas from Reinventing Organizations.
Reinventing Organizations by Frederic Laloux is a book about how organizations and management have evolved since the beginning of time and what is in store for the future. Laloux postulates that, since 150,000 B.C., human organizational evolution has created 7 different types of organizations, each one more complex than the last. The seven types of organizations, color coded for easier understanding, are:
1. 150,000 B.C. – 50,000 B.C. Infra-red – Reactive (little or no understanding of the world)
2. 15,000 – 10,000 B.C. Magic – Magenta (sees the mysteries of the world through Magic and Spiritualism)
3. 10,000 B.C. – Impulsive – Red “sees the world through a crude lens of power. Power is exercised constantly by ‘Chiefs’ to keep foot soldiers in line. Fear and unpredictability hold the organization together. Highly reactive with a short-term focus, well-suited to thrive in chaotic environments. Wolf packs are a good metaphor for Red organizations.” ex: street gangs and mafias, ancient tribes.
4. 4,000 B.C. – Conformist Amber (organizations are akin to armies: rule abiding bureaucratic institutions) “The Amber stage of consciousness enabled humankind to develop organizations that could operate on an unprecedented scale. This led to the formation of bureaucratic institutions, and nation states, many of which have survived for centuries. Amber organizations strive for stability and are characterized by clear roles and ranks within a hierarchical structure. Leadership is exercised through command and control and compliance is expected throughout the organization.”. ex: armies, catholic church, public schools, government institutions.
Breakthroughs of Amber
1. Long Term Perspective (stable processes)
2. Size and Stability (formal hierarchies)
5. 1750s A.D. – Achievement Orange (Organizations are akin to machines: large corporate organizations, meritocracy, shareholder focused) “Orange organizations represent the advance of the scientific and industrial revolutions. The world is seen as a complex machine whose inner workings and natural laws can be investigated and understood. This view has brought unprecedented levels of prosperity and life expectancy. Current management thinking, which is focused on competition, innovation and performance. shape how Orange organizations operate.” ex: modern-day corporations, multi-national corporations.
Breakthroughs of Orange
6. 1950s A.D. – Pluralistic Green (Organizations are families, with extreme egalitarianism, striving for harmony, tolerance, and equality) “Green organizations reflect the Green stage of consciousness, which strives for harmony, tolerance and equality. While retaining a pyramidal structure, Green organizations focus on empowerment to lift motivation. They go beyond the shareholder focus of Orange to embrace all stakeholders. Family is the dominant metaphor.” ex: hippy commune
Breakthroughs of Green
2. Values-driven culture and inspirational purpose
3. Multiple stakeholder perspective
7. Now Evolutionary Teal “Refers to the next stage in the evolution of human consciousness. Teal organizations are characterized by self-organization and self-management. The hierarchical "predict and control" pyramid is replaced with a decentralized structure consisting of small teams that take responsibility for their own governance. Assigned positions and job descriptions are replaced with a multiplicity of roles, often self-selected and fluid. People’s actions are guided by ‘listening’ to the organization’s purpose. Structure in Teal is characterized by rapid change and adaptation.”
Breakthroughs of Teal
2. Wholeness - invite us to reclaim our inner wholeness and bring all of who we are to work.
3. Evolutionary Purpose - members of the organization are invited to listen in and understand what the organization wants to become, what purpose it wants to serve.
Although these systems above evolved over time, Laloux states that they RED, AMBER, ORANGE, GREEN, and now TEAL organizations all exist throughout society, represented in different institutions. Furthermore, some organizations exhibit combinations of the different types, although all organizations have a dominant type.
Research for the book was done by extensively examining 12 different existent teal organizations that organically emerged and predate the book. The 12 organizations range from car parts factory in France, a leading pasta sauce plant in California, a Swedish State funded at-home nationwide nursing company, a software developer, and a multinational power generation company with over 40,000 employees. From the various examples, Laloux shows how this new teal organizational paradigm allowed the companies to achieve tremendous and quick success in their respective domains, which he uses to advocate the philosophy.
The tone of the book is one of optimistic philosophizing, in which all the claims made are, according to the forward, “solidly grounded in evolutionary and developmental theory.” I personally found references to scientific studies somewhat lacking, but the book addresses the issue by stating that new paradigm is cutting-edge. Most of the chapters of the book are so optimistic and so often fail to acknowledge counter arguments, that I began to draw many of my own. Of the many questions, two major ones were thankfully addressed. The first was: Is teal expected to ultimately replace most other forms of management, to which the text answered: “No, many forms of management exist and will continue to exist in society at the same time.” My second question was: “would the system of trust and a teal worker’s freedom to spend a company’s money without prior approval of any managers break down either by dishonesty or in times of crisis?” The text’s answer to the first part was: “the Teal system only works if the wages provided meet the basic cost of living needs for all of their employees,” (which I took to infer that teal organization isn’t universal applicable, for example it wouldn’t work at a low paying place like McDonalds). In questioning the efficacy of teal in times of crisis, chapter 2.3 (processes) addresses it, but barely so. The question of how employees, who can hire and fire themselves, may behave when their company is on the verge of bankruptcy is acknowledged as an untested scenario, in the text.
The format of the book itself is broken down into three major sections: Part one is an historical and developmental perspective of organizations; part two defines: the structures, practices, and cultures of Teal Organizations; and part 3 is about the Emergence of teal organizations: necessary conditions, how to start a teal organization, transform a current one, and implications of a teal society.
Overall, the book does provide several insights that I believe truly are revolutionary. First, the system of labeling the different organizational structures in history into memorable color coding, gives us a vocabulary to discuss and a mental way to compartmentalize common existent organizational systems around the world. Secondly, the 12 teal organizations, which are discussed at length, are remarkable in the fact that they can not only function properly, but also thrive with their bottom up management with lack of traditional hierarchies.
In review, the book was chock full of insightful statements about the issues inherent in modern success-oriented corporations of today, provided an eye-opening perspective on a new way to see decentralized, self-managed business models were managers don’t even exist. I would recommend this text for anyone who may be interested in either partially changing their business or overhauling it with the revolutionary teal model, which may improve performance and employee satisfaction. Although the teal isn’t for every business or for everyone’s taste, the depth of insight gained from this book makes it worth the read.
Useful chapters to take a quick look at are: 1.2, 1.3, 2.2, 2.3, 3.2, and 3.3
The book describes the evolution of organizational models and differentiates them using a color coding system. The primary focus is on the most progressive of the models, called teal which emphasizes self-management, purpose and wholeness among other principles. The world would really benefit from adopting this mindset more and I highly recommend this book despite the challenges with getting through it.