Teal Ripples in China

By Yuan GU for Enlivening Edge Magazine

“We sent out a ball into the world with EE Magazine’s Special Edition about Education in July 2017 and it is beautiful to see how you all picked up this ball.” Dr Jean-Paul Munsch, Guest Editor for the Special Edition about Education wrote this to me in his Foreward to our e-book Teal Organization in Education.

This e-book is a compilation of the translations of all the articles included in the Special Edition for Education as well as some other articles related to education innovation. To the best of my knowledge, it is the first book introducing Teal to the education community in China.

It is by no accident that we decided to do the translating and issue the book. I founded Aha School of Social Innovation in 2011, among the few pioneers in China promoting the idea and practice of social innovation and social enterprise. From 2014, we’ve concentrated our focus on innovation and startups in education. Our purpose is to enable “edupreneurs” to make changes happen in education.

As a Think Tank, we are one of the thought leaders of education for the future. So far, we’ve issued 6 books about our thoughts, research, and case studies. Meanwhile, as a Do Tank,[1] we initiated Islands Education Accelerator, having now supported over 50 educational startups[2] across China. We strongly believe in Teal and have been practicing it for more than one year within our own organization and with the educational startups we’re working with.

I still remember being thrilled and joyful to read the articles in the Special Edition and find there have been so many practices of Teal in education around the world, comparing to only one case study of Teal organization of education out of overall twelve case studies in Laloux’s book Reinventing Organizations.

My colleagues and I found these articles so enlightening and inspiring that we decided to translate them into Chinese so more people would have an opportunity to read and learn from them.

The translating was set up as a group learning experience for the edupreneurs in our Islands Education Accelerator. The idea was getting these people familiar with Teal by intensively reading these articles and translating them into Chinese. During the translation, all members of the team could enrich this learning experience in many ways, like making comments to another’s translation, providing supplementary learning materials, raising thought-provoking questions, etc. To do a better job and with more fun, they created various roles, like Chief Learning Officer, Chief Proofreading Officer, Top Translator, and Lighthouse Watcher (the servant leader in this project).

After the translation of each article, there was an online discussion session during which we shared what we learned and exchanged ideas on some common issues raised from the article.

It was a fascinating learning experience, and it’s pretty Teal!

In his Foreward, Dr. Jean-Paul Munsch wrote “With your work you also made clear that the cognitive shift from ‘machine thinking’ to ‘living organism thinking’ must be linked to learning experiences and deep exchange in order to enable the shift from fragmented and isolated practice to connected and wholesome acting in education.” Can’t agree more.

After all these articles were finished, I realized how much work we had done and how valuable (and fat) all the articles compiled could be. As a matter of fact, the whole book (which includes some other articles the team learned and translated) has over 100,000 Chinese characters. With this quality and quantity, it makes a decent book, and we are proud to introduce it to larger audience.

In the preface I wrote to the e-book, I introduce briefly the idea of Evolutionary Organization and Teal, then I sketch the main idea of each article, making suggestions for various kinds of readers what to read first. In addition, I point out why I believe the Teal Organization is most suitable for the area of Education. At the end, I emphasize that the way of our translating these “Teal-wise” articles is Teal itself. (You might be interested to use the Google translator to read the full text of my preface.)

Now the ripples are emerging.

After the book was finished, I wrote to Enlivening Edge via its website contact form to check if there were any requirements from them for issuing the book. Shortly, I received reply from Ms. Lia Aurami, one of the EE Partners, who congratulated us on our work result and appreciated our effort to introduce the idea of Teal into China.

In my mail, I mentioned I would attend the IEC in Hungary and asked if any of the EE Partners would also be there. Yes, five of them will. I believe we are going to have a delightful talk and who knows what will happen with our joint efforts.

And via EE, I gladly heard from the Guest Editor Dr. Jean-Paul Munsch, who kindly offered to write a Foreward to the e-book, which is a wonderful surprise and inspiration to all the translation team.

Another ripple happened when two eduprenueurs from the translation team paid visits to two of the Teal schools in the articles. One of the schools is Millennium School in San Francisco, and the other is Colearning Wien in Vienna. Both edupreneurs wrote articles about their visits and shared their experience in various forums back in China. After IEC, I, myself am going to visit the Colearning Wien.

Perhaps the most significant ripple starts with the readers of the e-book. After announcing the birth of the book, we have received hundreds of requests for the book and more requests keep coming every day.

What’s even more inspiring is that some people have set up reading groups around the book and some other people are trying to adopt Teal in their own organization.

This is just the change we expect to see with the book.

Last but not least, I’m going to pay a visit to all the Teal schools in these articles. My plan is to write a series of articles about these schools, which will probably be compiled into a book, in the hope of sharing their learnings along the Teal journey and inspiring more edupreneurs in China to give this Teal idea a try.

Will this be a start of another ripple? I believe so.

Click here to download the pdf of the e-book which is only in Chinese

《青色学校:进化型组织在教育领域的应用》.pdf (77.90M, 2018年05月31日 17:46 到期)



Mr. Yuan GU is among the pioneers in social innovation and education innovation in China, a thinker and opinion leader, an experienced entrepreneurial mentor, and foremost, a lifelong learner. He believes that innovation makes citizens and education leads to freedom. His passions are learning, travelling, designing, helping people and organization grow and transform, and craft beer. He can be contacted at [email protected]