Collaborative Action Research into the Practice of Building Teal Organisations (IEC 2016 Preview)

By Bjørn Uldall for Enlivening Edge

Check here for other Integral European Conference previews from Enlivening Edge and visit the official IEC website here.

As individuals and as communities who are pursuing various efforts to build Teal organisations, we find ourselves in largely unknown territory. Very few of us, if any, can really claim to be experienced ‘Master Practitioners’ or ‘Master Consultants’ in this field.

Successful pioneer organisations and their founders and leaders can certainly provide inspiration, but so far we have little knowledge of how—and how well—their particular solutions and approaches translate to other contexts.

Many organisational consultants, coaches, facilitators, etc., are eager to get involved and help organisations on the journey to Teal—but admittedly, we are as much on a learning journey as the organisations we want to help.

This is where Collaborative Action Research methodologies and Communities of Practice inquiry might come in handy. Without seasoned and local guides, we might all just be explorers and inventors in how to build our Teal organisations. Yet we can increase the odds of a successful exploration or invention by the way we equip and support ourselves with useful exploration and invention practices, and the way we build our individual and collective capacities for such characteristics as courage, connection, inquiry and reflection, creative action, mutual meaning-making, conflict resolution, and resilience in the face of unintended or unfortunate events. Collaborative Action Research can help with all this.

Action Research invites us to produce ‘instructive accounts’ of our unique learning journeys, thereby contributing to the collective pool of knowing which others may drink from to nourish their own explorations (or use to synthesize and build orienting maps for future explorers.) Generating ‘instructive accounts’ involves a discipline of real-time tracking, reflecting upon, and subsequent accounting for, our journey of inquiry.

Going beyond sanitized victory stories, the aim is to provide a real living sense of the journey, including moments of challenges, surprises, insights, emotional roller-coasters, failures

—yet also mapping how over time we are developing personal and organisational (Teal) understandings and practices which are robust and valuable.

In addition to the value which accrues to others, generating these ‘instructive accounts’ is a personal and organisational learning practice that anchors and qualifies the knowing-how for both for the individual and the particular organisation involved. Also, being part of a Collaborative Action Research community or specific co-inquiry group–that works together on generating a product in the form of ‘openly shared know-how’ (that can take a variety of forms)– provides a unique and additional ‘organisational context’ in which you can experiment and inquire into personal and collective Teal practices of organisation. In turn, that may prove highly valuable for the development efforts you are engaged with in your primary organisation.


My invitation is this:  let’s approach the non-knowing of how to build Teal organizations using the robust knowing embodied in Collaborative Action Research approaches.

My workshop at the Integral European Conference in May, will take us further into our Inquiry:

Frederic Laloux’s compelling narrative has enticed many of us to go reinvent our organizations. Yet in this we confront many personal and organisational questions, dilemmas, and uncertainties.

This experiential workshop will explore how we may complement the support from the RO discourse community and RO wiki platforms with initiatives that use Collaborative Action Research disciplines. These include approaches that support individual ‘1st person’ learning through mutual ‘2nd person’ co-inquiry disciplines, and creative ways of capturing, documenting, and leveraging on-going experiences and learnings along the way. From this we can then produce ‘3rd person’ (i.e. written, beyond face to face) practical knowledge, that can, for example, enter into wiki articles dealing with the ‘transition journey’.

The workshop will introduce and use some of these approaches to explore questions and dilemmas that are alive for participants, and explore opportunities for further collaboration beyond the conference. See you there!

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Bjorn UldallBjørn Uldall says: In 2000, I left my conventional Business career (M.Sc. Int. Business Adm., Manager at Carlsberg, McKinsey consultant), went on a 10 day Vipassana retreat, and started my quest for finding more meaningful ways of building and leading business organisations. This took me through a PhD of collaborative action research with business leaders; 5 years of psychotherapy training; and many years of coaching business leaders and teams as a partner in Scanlead. We are now building a new Teal organization.