The Hot Management Trend of Self-organising Workplaces without Managers: Will Left or Right Be First to Embrace It?

Matthew Kálmán Mezey looks at how the world of politics is (slowly) beginning to wake up to the potential illustrated by today’s self-managed ‘Next Stage’ organisations  from the soft Left thought-leader Matthew Taylor, Labour think-tanks Demos and IPPR, and Labour Party pressure group Compass to Policy Exchange on the moderate Right. Could the liberating potential – and outright effectiveness – of these organisations one day transform our politics?

The case for self-managed workplaces seems to grow stronger by the day – as the number of such workplaces grows too. But so far the world of politics and policy-makers has rather tiptoed around this potentially revolutionary development.

Corbynism, as yet, is too crude a project and needs to open itself up to voices including Frederic Laloux’s Reinventing Organizations
– Neal Lawson, Compass

But why should politicians pay attention?

Steve Hilton pic
Steve Hilton’s ‘More Human’ and ‘Next Stage’ organisations – just different labels?

A lot of the recent buzz around organisations without managers has followed the extraordinary decision of the prominent $1bn US online apparel retailer Zappos to remove all its managers and instead use a Holacracy structure of overlapping Circles (where everyone has multiple Roles, which continually evolve as all staff sense gaps and unfulfilled potentials).

Zappos’ founder Tony Hsieh explains that freeing up employee creativity was a key part of what drew him to try Holacracy: “Research shows that every time the size of a city doubles, innovation or productivity per resident increases by 15 percent. But when companies get bigger, innovation or productivity per employee generally goes down. So we’re trying to figure out how to structure Zappos more like a city, and less like a bureaucratic corporation. In a city, people and businesses are self-organizing. We’re trying to do the same thing by switching from a normal hierarchical structure to a system called Holacracy, which enables employees to act more like entrepreneurs and self-direct their work instead of reporting to a manager who tells them what to do.”

Mark Thompson, writing in the Guardian, commented when he first heard about Buurtzorg that it “made me fall off my seat”

Hundreds of other companies now use it too. Perhaps this is unsurprising, as any organisation can use Holacracy, for free. Examples of organisations using it include Medium, the blog-publishing platform launched by Twitter co-founder Evan Williams, and the David Allen Company (with its GTD/Getting Things Done method, so beloved of personal productivity geeks).

But the astonishing effectiveness of ‘Next Stage’ self-managed structures – of which Holacracy is just one example, albeit currently the most formalised and replicable one – is perhaps clearer with an established Dutch community nursing non-profit called Buurtzorg (see EE articles about it). It was founded in 2006 with a small team and has since grown astoundingly fast, to now employ approaching 10,000 nurses – and regularly wins employer of the year awards as well as boasting the highest patient satisfaction rates in the country.

Yet it does all this without any layers of management, and with a back-office administrative bureaucracy of only around 60 staff, leading to overheads of only 8% compared to the 25% norm in the sector. Audit firm Ernst & Young found that Buurtzorg’s lower costs would lead to €2 billion savings if used across the country (scaled to the US, this would be a $49 billion saving across the sector).

Little wonder that Cambridge University business academic Mark Thompson, writing in the Guardian, commented when he first heard about Buurtzorg that it “made me fall off my seat”. He made a back-of-the-envelope calculation that this self-managed approach could save £35.5bn across Britain’s public sector, freeing up thousands of staff to return to valuable frontline work.

Examples like Buurtzorg demonstrate that dramatic cost reductions can be achieved while improving services and boosting public sector staff morale at the same time
– Eddie Copeland, Policy Exchange

Of course, such ideas didn’t emerge only with the 2014 publication of Frederic Laloux’s increasingly influential book of case studies of ‘Next Stage’ organisations, Reinventing Organizations [download PDF: pay what feels right, in a month], which inspired the launch of Enlivening Edge. Gary Hamel – a world-leading business thinker – wrote in a 2011 Harvard Business Review article ‘First, Let’s Fire All the Managers’ about a self-managed organisation called Morning Star (a tomato processor). He believes this self-managed model – without a hierarchy of managers – could work in companies of any size.

He recently told a must-hear BBC Radio 4 programme on ‘Companies without Managers’ that it is hard to know why these organisations remain so scarce, given their “enormous performance advantages”. His conclusion was that a “residual set of beliefs… invisibly sabotages” these developments. Given our own workplace experiences, most of us still believe that any change must be imposed, that employees are simply instruments to be managed and all the rest of that related mindset. The BBC programme profiled Buurtzorg, Morning Star and a Dorset-based aerospace company called Matt Black Systems.

When will politicians notice these examples of cutting-edge organisations which seem to be able to creatively transform and avoid bureaucratisation? (It’s notable that these organisations never need to mention ‘empowerment’, as power is no longer bestowed from above; instead everyone is a manager!)

Who in the political world has already spotted the trend?

The three primary characteristics Laloux found to be common in ‘Next Stages’ organisations – of bringing your whole self to work, of a self-managed/non-hierarchical organisational structure, and of a focus on following the organisation’s evolutionary purpose, beyond just bottom line – would seem, intuitively, to be appealing to left-leaning progressives.

In striving to be more Teal than Red – I am grateful to Frederic for his work and humbled by the book’s insights and power
– Neal Lawson, Compass

RSA lecture Frederic Laloux with Matthew Taylor
RSA lecture: Frederic Laloux with Matthew Taylor

Sure enough, Matthew Taylor – the one-time head of Tony Blair’s Number 10 Policy Unit and now Chief Executive of civic innovation charity the RSA – publicly called for the creation of a ‘Next stage’ RSA at an RSA lecture by Frederic Laloux (view lecture). (Though he also joked – to much audience amusement – that his own, ahem…, charismatic persona, might prove to be one of the hurdles to creating a self-managed RSA – see 29:25 in).

He also named Reinventing Organizations as one of his top 3 books of 2014: “Reinventing Organizations is the book that has most influenced me as a CEO this year. As you read it, one voice in your head says ‘This is crazy’, while another says ‘Isn’t this how we should all aim to be?’”

We never got to find out what the actual hurdles really would be as the top tier of RSA management didn’t share his enthusiasm for making this major change, after reading the copies of Reinventing Organizations each was given. The RSA also awarded Buurtzorg’s Jos de Blok (view lecture) with their 2014 Albert medal for his pioneering work (I can claim some credit for initiating the conversations inside the RSA that led to this interest in Laloux and de Blok).

Further leftward, the Labour Party pressure group Compass is also keen. Its chair Neal Lawson recently wrote in a New Statesman article, for example, that “Corbynism, as yet, is too crude a project” and needs to open itself up to voices including Frederic Laloux’s Reinventing Organizations vision. Elsewhere he added that “In striving to be more Teal* than Red – I am grateful to Frederic for his work and humbled by the book’s insights and power.” [*aka ‘Next Stage’]

Labour-supporting think-tank IPPR’s July 2015 report Powerful People – Reinforcing the Power of Citizens and Communities in Health and Care also points to the findings of Frederic Laloux and the approach of Buurtzorg.

This self-managed model – without a hierarchy of managers – could work in companies of any size
Gary Hamel, leading business thinker

I also spotted that a senior social policy researcher at progressive economics think-tank the New Economics Foundation had picked Reinventing Organizations as her summer 2015 reading.

So, there is certainly the beginnings of interest – plenty of dry tinder, but no sign yet of any true firestorm and most certainly no sign yet that progressive organisations are opting to recreate themselves along non-hierarchical lines (note though that Enlivening Edge is itself learning to use the Holacracy structure).

Though, of course, a Corbynista might presume there’s nothing new in this. Isn’t it all just some variant on the kind of cooperative structures long used by organisations like Mondragon in Spain or – on a smaller scale – Suma Wholefoods, Britain’s largest cooperative? Actually ‘Next Stage’ structures reach rather beyond the often-ineffective consensus-based approaches which even many on the Left have long since found to be flawed (writing biting critiques such as The Tyranny of Structurelessness and What a Way to Run a Railroad – an analysis of radical failure).

The possibility of drastic reduction in bureaucracy – for example – is something that might be of particular interest moving towards the other side of the political spectrum too. Perhaps unsurprisingly, UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s favourite think-tank, Policy Exchange, has noticed Buurtzorg (and Reinventing Organizations) and their Head of Technology Policy Eddie Copeland praised the organisation, in an article on the future of tech policy post the UK’s 2015 general election.

Examples like Buurtzorg “demonstrate that dramatic cost reductions can be achieved while improving services and boosting public sector staff morale at the same time”, he writes. For similar reasons, Buurtzorg was also briefly mentioned in a report on Health in Austerity by left-leaning think-tank Demos.

There’s no particular reason why self-management should be owned by the left or the right. I couldn’t help noticing that Brian Robertson’s new book Holacracy – The Revolutionary Management System that Abolishes Hierarchy names an intriguingly broad range of influences – even including the economists Murray Rothbard and Ludwig von Mises, both somewhere off in a libertarian/anarcho-capitalist direction.

Steve Hilton’s More Human and ‘Next Stage’ organisations – just different labels?

His calls for a ‘revolution’ and for a shift to ‘a post-bureaucratic age’ made me think that David Cameron’s former advisor – the sandal-wearing ‘blue sky’ thinker Steve Hilton – might well have noticed Morning Star, Buurtzorg and other non-hierarchical, non-bureaucratic companies in his recent much-discussed book More Human – Designing a World Where People Come First.

Surprisingly, the admirably post-tribal Hilton – who is rumoured to have voted Green and Labour in the past – never mentions the distributed authority of self-managed ‘post-bureaucratic’ workplaces. Though he rails against inhumane conditions at Amazon’s workplaces, he doesn’t explicitly highlight those pioneering workplaces which encourage staff to bring their whole selves to work (one of the three ‘breakthroughs’ Laloux discovered was typical of ‘Next Stage’ organisations). However, Hilton does clearly admire those organisations which take the “more human road” of using business as a force for good.

The Office of the Chief Information Officer, Washington State, USA, has partnered with Harvard Business School to test the hypothesis that ‘Holacracy produces better employee outcomes than hierarchy’

Interestingly, Hilton believes that new Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is asking many of the right questions – which mainstream politicians avoid – even if he’s unlikely to devise answers that build the ‘more human’ world Hilton desires.

Perhaps the liberating wave of non-hierarchical organisations could be a missing piece of the puzzle for them both? It could even rescue Corbyn from the charge that he’s a 70’s political throw-back – if Hilton and co. don’t get there first.

What will it take to break the inertia?

It will clearly take a lot to overcome the residual beliefs most of us have that invisibly sabotage the idea of self-management, as Gary Hamel concludes.

But if the prominent experiment with Holacracy at Zappos proves to be a clear success, this could change the picture rapidly. The CEO of Amazon – which now owns Zappos – is said to be keeping a close eye on it!

Perhaps it will take the successful spread of self-management within the public sector for politicians to really take notice – perhaps the Holacracy implementation at the Office of the Chief Information Officer in Washington State, USA, for example (Lesson: do not use the word ‘Holacracy’, at first; Challenge: “Holacracy has ruined me: I no longer want to work in an organisation that practices hierarchy”; Only barrier: lack of courage to try it. They have partnered with Harvard Business School to test the hypothesis that ‘Holacracy produces better employee outcomes than hierarchy’). Even the UK’s surveillance agency GCHQ has been taking an interest.

Clearly the developments with Buurtzorg – as they ripple out of the Netherlands to the USA, Japan, Sweden and the UK – have the possibility of attracting growing attention. Backing from the UK’s respected Royal College of Nursing is just the kind of public support that is needed. In August 2015 its updated policy briefing on Buurtzorg concluded: “The RCN welcomes the remarkable success of the Buurtzorg model. Its demonstration of nursing capability and self-management in delivering even better patient care is a great boost to the profession’s morale, both in the UK and internationally.”

It would no doubt help to win over the doubters if advocates of reinvented workplaces in the world of politics reinvented their own workplaces. It always helps to know what you’re talking about from direct experience.

On second thoughts…?

On the other hand, perhaps my desire that the world of the policy wonks and politicians makes more of these inspiring developments is looking in the wrong place for transformative change with integrity? Isn’t politics so often a laughable pantomime of simplistic black-and-white thinking, grabbing credit for others’ successes, zealously following your leader perched atop a command-and-control hierarchy? Well, yes…

Yet I suspect Steve Hilton is right when he says “if we really want to change the world – if we want to make it more human – then we must start with the people who call the shots. That means government.” Hilton previously even wrote a book – Good Business – about how business could be used to change the world for the better. But now – in the light of his government and business experience – he believes he was wrong in this faith in this role for business: “Business does not run the world. In the end government sets the rules by which business – and everyone else – operates.…”

In the end, it seems to me that either Left or Right can – and should – embrace the enlivening transformation offered by ‘Next Stage’ organisations – and whoever does so will be aligning themselves with a liberating current that is now validated by numerous cutting-edge organisations. And the ‘Next Stage’ mindset – and its accompanying novel capabilities – would likely help them make far greater headway against today’s ‘wicked’ problems, into the bargain.

Follow me on Twitter: @MatthewMezey

Spotted any news about self-managed organisations? Get in touch.

Featured Image by Håkan Stigson from Pixabay

  1. Thanks Matthew for such a useful primer and guide through the field. As you’ll know, I find the RSA reference particularly interesting because many Fellows were highly enthused by the early vision of Matthew Taylor for a networked organisation, back in 2008. It didn’t work out then, for lots of reasons, and as you remark it didn’t appeal to the next generation of managers either. I really hope the EE initiative and newsletter will help start a new wave of enthusiasm for decentralised, networked approaches, and admire the almost evangelical enthusiasm you are generating. At the same time, I think credibility would be enhanced by some stories of what didn’t work … and why. Would Matthew contribute?

    1. Hi David, it’s good to see you again, even if only virtually! I still remember that it was you from whom I heard first the term “social reporter” and always enjoyed seeing you acting as one. Would you consider to write for Enlivening Edge? If yes, please talk with Matthew, who is our Website Section Editor for “News” and “Organizations”. You can also find our Writer’s Guidelines here: https://www.enliveningedge.org/get-involved/enlivening-edge-writers-guidelines/

    2. Hi David,

      It must say something that you, me, and RSA Chief Exec Matthew Taylor all see something very relevant for the RSA and its 27,000 Fellows in the distributed authority ‘Next stage’ approach.

      You may have noticed that an RSA Fellow called Judy Rees has set up the London Reinventing Work network – and has a meeting on 7 October. http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/rsa-reinventing-work-network-self-management-in-organisations-tickets-18362383383

      There are a fair number of such groups in London right now!

      Re what didn’t work – I certainly hope we can share more of this. We’re already sharing very relevant content such as this: https://www.enliveningedge.org/organizations/what-we-got-wrong-about-self-management/

      Not sure Matthew Taylor would want to dwell on things that didn’t work out. But I’ll ask him next time I run into him…

  2. At times it is easier to start from scratch than to change the status quo. In the case industry and organisations. This tends to be true where you have performance engines that evolved over decades if not longer. It is very difficult to get them to change direction quickly because the momentum alone hey have built up takes time to wind down.

    The case Buurtzorg fits in the latter case as opposed to the former in that they were set up as a self organising company.

    Think of a large company as a huge oil tanker which needs to turn and change direction. It first need to be slowed down and then gradually change direction. I think this is the case with many companies/ organisations. They may be conceptually open to the change. However, they need time and commitment go through a process from delivering value to their clients/ members from one state to another.

    I also think the cost argument tends not touch on this need very well.

    1. Very inspiring survey, and interesting question, Matthew. And Zufi, very apt image. Evokes in me a wondering how an established older living organism/system goes about making massive changes in a relatively short time-frame. That could be a deep contemplation!! I also think there are some hints here, under Misconception 2, where Georges Romme talks about what I would characterize as letting the cells transform the organism after the organism’s “brain” chooses the change. He says:

      “Many such experiences demonstrate that the implementation process must itself be holacratic, drawing on employees’ ideas and ensuring that everyone understands and embraces the changes. The transition can’t come about as a directive from the top. In fact, the best approach is for top executives to get out of the way while a dedicated project team (possibly including external experts) orchestrates adoption and implementation.

      “The pace of change must also be deliberate and well-orchestrated. The brand-strategy consulting firm Fabrique, for example, first defined shared objectives and had a project team pilot-test whether sociocracy served to realize those objectives. Then, on the basis of the evidence collected, it had the project team, together with the executive team, make a shared “go/no-go” decision (the result was a “go”). An approach like this signals top managers’ deep understanding of distributed management and leadership and establishes them as role models.” (Commenting function here has stripped out his hyperlinks.)
      https://hbr.org/2015/09/the-big-misconceptions-holding-holacracy-back?utm_content=bufferb8a0b&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

    2. Hi Zufi,

      I think you’re spot on about how conceptual understandings – and espousals – will (inevitably?) come first. Only later will the oil tanker of a large organisation turn around.

      But the combination of the slow turning, plus the new organisations that are sort of ‘Next Stage’ native, does give me some kind of hope of change… 😉

  3. Hi Matthew, thought provoking piece. Sorry it’s taken me while to get to it. Whilst I agree that we need government to support/promote the next stage organisation concept, it will get little or no traction in a public service that feels it has been stripped to the bone and has little resource or energy to embark on a new way of being. There will need to be a strong, evidenced narrative and I don’t think such a narrative exists yet. Maybe we have to create it.

  4. Hi Nick,

    Yes, the idea that public services that are cut to the bone will suddenly become risk-taking innovators never seems to work out. I’d feel vulnerable and regress into some kind of survival mode in such circumstances!

    Let’s see how pilots with the (almost) bureaucracy-free Buurtzorg model work out around the UK (and beyond). This might help to create the evidenced narrative. Enlivening Edge is certainly trying to gather such evidence! I know there’s health-related work currently being done in one leading think-tank where Buurtzorg may be a focus, or else more conventional solutions may continue to prevail (if the narrative is not strong enough yet). There’s certainly support internally to include Buurtzorg – but the intellectual inertia of the past may still prevail.

    And how exactly does Buurtzorg deal with some of the issues raised by the Royal College of Nursing?: https://www.enliveningedge.org/news/uks-royal-college-of-nursing-reiterates-its-support-for-bureaucracy-free-buurtzorg-model/

    There are more subtle challenges too: when Guy’s and St Thomas’s advertises for a Buurtzorg-inspired Head of Nursing role at up to £74k+ pro rata, does it enable – or could it even inhibit – the grassroots emergent innovation that has seen Buurtzorg grow to around 10,000 staff?

    It may seem somewhat tangential but – when the dust finally settles – the reworking of the Labour Party could support the ‘Next Stage’ agenda, if they do it right. A lot of what led to Corbyn’s rise wasn’t simply a regressive Old Labour-ish lurch to the left. There is a groundswell of people with what might be called Pioneer/Cultural Creative/universalist orientations who have been seeking a way beyond the pragmatism/individualism/power focus that New Labour seemed to devolve into. They are also the people who most strongly support ‘Next Stage’ organisations.

    I hope when the dust settles that Labour – with Corbyn or not – will have worked out an improved grounding that is founded on this modern, future-focused ‘True Labour’ focus, that is most likely to embrace ‘Next Stage’ organisations. You can read more about what a ‘True Labour’ future might look like here: http://www.cultdyn.co.uk/articles.html

    Or maybe all that will end in so many inward-looking political battles on the Left that moderate-Right organisations or politicians will end up being first to really take action to realise the promise of ‘Next Stage’ organisations…?

    It’s clear that even a small role by you or I in creating the new narrative could actually have a disproportionate impact, in this time of flux.

  5. Matthew,
    a great summary and an interesting question to pose. One area that you have not addressed is the position and role of the unions, who could act as blockers or promoters. They have a historic connection to the co-operative movement, which could also be re-imagined along the lines of self-management.
    I agree that the left would seem to have a natural affinity with the distributed power of self-management but the performance bonus that it delivers is likely to be the focus of the right. Perhaps it is just pointless to frame this in the language and concepts of the past and we should just accept that everything is up for grabs and we won’t know what the future looks like until we get there.

  6. Colin, I love your insight: “it is just pointless to frame this in the language and concepts of the past and we should just accept that everything is up for grabs…”

    Indeed, the decisive tension from an evolutionary perspective, will not be between Left and Right, but between organisations reinvented for supporting the blossoming of the talents and highest aspirations of all of their members, for letting people experience joy, dignity, meaning and community, at work, on one hand, and organisations stuck in the 20th Century model of coordination which restricts all that, on the other hand.

    1. What would characterise the wise action that those change makers can take, who keep that broader perspective in view, and are responding to a future that depends on those wise actions?

      I know, this is not a simple question, but what else is worth asking? 🙂
      Imagine if a collaborative enquiry could lead to some shared clarity!

      I certainly don’t have the answers, but strongly believe that together we can discover them. Doing so, we may arrive to a truly “enlivening edge.” 🙂

    2. Hi Colin,

      I suspect that you’re correct that both Left and Right can easily find benefits in self-organised ‘Next Stage’ organisations, that resonate with their values. And my article showed how they are already beginning to…

      For me, this is a great bonus – I suspect that most partisan endeavours will be likely to be narrow and unsustainable. It seems to me that a sort of trans-partisanism is necessary, if you seek ‘the health of the whole spiral of values’, as Spiral Dynamics would advocate – from its Teal vantage-point.

      From what I remember, Laloux doesn’t say anything about the worker-owned co-operatives that have long played some role on the Left. The largest in the UK is Suma; and best-known is the Mondragon group of co-operatives in the Spain. (Indeed sizeable areas of Spain were even once run by non-hierarchical anarchist co-operatives, as far as I know – not something that is on Laloux’s radar, though is only of historical interest nowadays).

      Funnily enough, when David Graeber – the academic who is now a well-known Occupy/anarchist spokesperson in the media – spoke at the RSA I asked him – via a Tweet – about the cross-over with self-managing, non-hierarchical organisations. I can’t remember the detail of his answer, partly as I don’t think he was either aware of the developments Laloux has written about, or particularly interested in them. It would be a shame if the political activists took no interest in these developments.

      I know some people find this lack of discussion about ownership (of organisations), a limiting factor in ‘Reinventing Organisations’.

      It would certainly be good to hear more about profit-sharing, employee share-ownership and an expansion in the co-operative or mutual sector.

      Laloux’s work has certainly piqued my interest in all this. And those sectors would certainly benefit from non-hierarchical and self-managed approaches that Laloux describes – as their practices are not common in the co-operative sector (though, presumably, it would be relatively receptive).

      But I’m only beginning to dig into all this more fully now…

      You may find IPPR’s 2014 report ‘Faire Shares – shifting the balance of power in the workplace to boost productivity and pay’ interesting.
      http://www.ippr.org/publications/fair-shares-shifting-the-balance-of-power-in-the-workplace-to-boost-productivity-and-pay

      But once one starts looking for complementary currents to Laloux’s ‘Next Stage’ organisations, it’s hard to know where to stop… 😉

      George’s most recent Editorial includes one mapping of the whole ecosystem – though even that leaves off the ‘experiments in new forms of participatory politics and governance around the world’ gathered by Participedia: http://www.participedia.net/en/about

      I hope Enlivening Edge can keep a big enough picture to bring all these together.

  7. Thanks Matthew for this thought provoking and informative article.

    In terms of self organisation in government there are interesting developments taking place in Scotland. The Scottish government have embraced the U.Lab course and methodology as a way of bringing citizens in to deliberate and “to co-create cross-sector innovation platforms that address the key issues of concern to people in Scotland today.” You can read more about it in Otto Scharmer’s piece here http://www.huffingtonpost.com/otto-scharmer/a-second-enlightenment-in_b_7747820.html

    Also I was interested to read about your tweet to political activist David Graeber. I have been involved in some movements towards creating a more Participatory Democracy including Occupy and more recently Assemblies for Democracy http://assembliesfordemocracy.org/

    I think such political movements could greatly benefit from taking a look at how Teal organisations work. I personally know that some activists are looking beyond the horizontal consensus driven approach towards embracing natural hierarchies. I intend to keep a foot in both worlds and see what possible bridges can be built.

    Andy

  8. Hi Andy,

    And the Scottish Govt was previously embracing Heifetz’s ‘Adaptive Leadership’, apparently. (We could do with somebody like the NHS’s wonderful Helen Bevan, to enthusiastically keep us all abreast of such innovations in Government! Is there someone doing this?)

    Great to see the impact of U.Lab.

    Other MOOCs too can be just what particular groups need: the Human Centred Design one that +Acumen does, for example. I wrote about it here: http://www.rsablogs.org.uk/2014/fellowship/join-mooc-education-revolution-free-learncreate-rsa-fellows/

    David Graeber responded to my tweeted in question during his RSA lecture (an ongoing process I set up, while I was at the RSA!). But he doesn’t seem to know anything about Frederic Laloux, and was just rather dismissive from what I remember. I suppose I shouldn’t really get my hopes up – anarchists can tend to be dreadfully sectarian.

    We’re certainly going to need a lot more ‘foot in both worlds’ people – go for it! 🙂

    I struggle these days with what feels to me like the partisan blinkers of most purely ‘progressive’ endeavours – and might argue that more deliberately post-partisan approaches are more authentically ‘Next Stage’/Teal/Integral.

    I’m talking about things like Jonathan Haidt’s Heterodox Academy or David Goodhart’s Post-Liberalism.

    But, hey, the frontier is long…! 😉

    Funnily enough, I was just in touch with a rather wonderful anarchist academic (and activist) I met a couple of decades ago, John P Clark. I rather like what he’s been saying lately about the crucial role of ‘dialectical thinking’. To many this might sound either a bit woolly, or exotic – though I suspect that Teal cognition is in fact very dialectically-infused!

    One final point: I reckon most everyday organisations could become a lot more engaging and creative if they began to use http://www.liberatingstructures.com/ – rather than just soldier on with the standard tedious meetings. And it would be great to begin to compare and contrast how engaging the meetings are in different organisations: http://www.liberatingstructures.com/ieq-survey

    Just getting that issue onto the agenda could begin to really change the conversation…

    And we can all start using one or two of the short and simple Liberating Structures in our workplaces! They’re designed so you don’t need to bring in a special facilitator whiz to use them. I’ve used some of them. (Though not used the IEQ survey tool yet – had been hoping to compare RSA to another org, but it wasn’t to be).

    Matthew

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