In January 2016, a Teal network was born and I was excited to be part of it. It happened in the form of six concurrent workshops at different locations around Germany.
Topic: “(R)evolutionary Organizations of the Future.”
The idea of bringing a handful of interested people together to engage in a dialogue in an inspiring place, successfully ended with a movement of more than 100 professionals who exchanged thoughts, developed ideas, and are now going to bring the first projects into the world.
How it started
Frederic Laloux‘s book Reinventing Organizations was published in 2014 and spread rapidly in circles of organizational management.
Laloux aligned himself to the model of Spiral Dynamics-Integral and added pragmatic considerations and options for action in the field of organizations. He came up with credible examples that proved the possibility of running a Teal organization successfully in a competitive business world. He illustrated a trend which had already become apparent at every turn, and which has shifted and enriched the perspective of many people whose focus is on work in organizations.
Many such ideas and thoughts have been increasingly discussed in the last years, showing that the desire for new concepts is as big as people’s helplessness and disorientation in dealing with those new concepts.
So it’s a good time to take up the issue. That’s what Marita Schermer, who is working as a trainer and coach for team and organizational development, did. She had the idea to gather a small group of like-minded people in a quiet retreat for one or two days to start a dialogue.
How do you find like-minded people?
Mainly, you search your personal and professional environment, and within your social networks.
One of the networks in which Marita is engaged is the isb (institute for systemic consulting) in Wiesloch, near Heidelberg. It is one of the most renowned German institutions for the professionalization and qualification of people and organizations in the areas of consulting, education, coaching, human resources development, organization development and change management.
I would say that those who feel close to the cultural principles of this institution, are also comfortable with the ideas of Reinventing Organizations.
In August 2015, a request was published within the isb network.
The question was “Who is interested in exchanging experiences about ‘Teal organizations,’ about self-management, wholeness, and evolutionary purpose … and the connection to systemic thinking?”
What dreams, desires, ideas, and perspectives do we have?
What is different or better if we think with positive energy for our future?
Where do we find our strength for adaptability in the future?
Which (organizational) realities do we encounter and how can we act and promote (small) steps?
The goal was to connect people, to facilitate a dialogue reflecting on how organizational worlds can be reinvented and redesigned.
Once the request was placed in the network, everything happened very quickly. The planned workshop on the subject of “Organizations of the Future” was fully booked within four hours.
The interest continued unabated. Since many who would have liked to have taken part came from other regions in Germany, the idea was born to set up concurrent workshops in those other regions. It was a virtual cell-division, an evolutionary process, and within a few weeks in addition to the first “Teal cell” in Ramsen, near Kaiserslautern at the beautiful Eiswoog, more cells emerged in Bremen, Berlin, Cologne, Munich, and Bamberg.
The events would take place simultaneously and were to be linked at the end of the second day in a Google Hangout session.
On January 22nd, some 100 enthusiastic people, mostly consultants, coaches, and executives from companies, met concurrently at six locations in Germany and launched into an intense and fascinating exchange of experiences. It was a dynamic and agile coming-together with a lot of space for interaction and immersion in the complexity of this topic.
The organizing team, consisting of the initiator and the hosts of the different locations, had prepared the frame perfectly.
The content emerged from the groups within Open Space, Appreciative Inquiries, Reflecting Teams, discussions, brainstormings, meditations, and other methods. Each cell designed their two days with toolsets and attitudes that can also be found in the living organisms of “Teal” companies and communities. In addition, there was a lot of laughing, talking, dreaming, designing, and hedonistic eating and drinking.
What moved the participants and what was talked about?
If 100 people, who deal with a topic, meet and have a passionate exchange about it, energy is created, and if this energy is transformed into ideas, then there can be a veritable potpourri of questions.
More than 20 issues were discussed, various experiments carried out, concrete projects started, and agreements on structures and practices for future cooperation and communication were made.
Issues that were reflected upon:
What does consulting and change-management mean for organizations on their way towards Teal?
What does it mean in particular for the executives?
How is Teal affecting the people in the organizations?
What is it all about, on an organizational and structural level?
What signs of transformation are we experiencing in the organizations in which we operate?
How can a transition between the various forms of organization towards Teal take place?
Can large organizations ever become Teal?
Does Teal make sense in small organizations?
Teal and Theory U: Are we on the road toward paradise or apocalypse or something in between?
Perspective of consultants:
What does the transformation toward Teal mean for external consultants?
How can we start with our customers into the subject of self-organization?
What does it mean for a consultant to act on the Teal level?
Perspective of leadership and self-management:
What is the meaning of leadership when management roles actually do not exist any longer?
How important is dealing with the customer and how important is it to deal with oneself?
Perspective of the network:
How can we stay in exchange as consultants and professional colleagues? Is a common platform necessary?
How could a network of consultants function?
What tools can be used in practice?
Foundation of a “Teal School“
Report of a large organization on the way toward Teal
Examples of organizations and communities that are already Teal
Is Teal measurable? (Condition of an organization and its ability to transform)
How can we find out what each of us knows about the topic, and then try to fill the gaps so we can convey knowledge about Reinventing Organizations?
Experiment of an organizational constellation:
One group staged a constellation on the subject “Teal.” The individual roles in an organization, the key achievements of the paradigm – such as self-organization, integrity, and purpose – and the role of the external consultant were choreographed.
The result was, that there is a great need for structure and certainty. We remember: structure and certainty are key breakthroughs of traditional organizations. The experience of this tension between traditional and integral-evolutionary paradigms is something that will definitely affect real change processes.
“Pragmateal” combines pragmatism with Teal. Using the platform part-up.com projects will be proposed, competencies found, and teams for implementation can be formed.
Development of a “Teal game.” Analogous to a business simulation game, a playful method should be found, that brings Teal thoughts and practices into existing organizations or helps to implement Teal business ideas into start-ups.
The special moment
There was a very special moment when the groups were connected via video conference and presenting results on Saturday late afternoon. Most participants in the regional cells had not known each other until the day of the workshops, and then worked quickly and very intensely to become familiar with each other.
The meeting of the whole group over video conferencing was an intensifying element. Overcoming distances and creating a team spirit, “as if the groups were right next door,“ a participant noted.
Of course the question arose: What happens next? Can the group continue with its regional cells? It soon became clear: It goes on.
There will be further meetings of the regional groups in order to deepen exchanges and encourage projects. A large group event will be planned and organized by Q1, 2017.
Digital platforms have already been introduced to ensure a simple and efficient communication and coordination.
Working and organizational realites are changing. We talk about it, and we want to implement new ideas and concepts, making them tangible.
Next is to prove that we can take up this approach and widen the network even further, deepen relationships already forged, and to start implementing projects based on our exchange of experiences.
The “Teal Journey” continues.
Helge Koops is an entrepreneur and project designer in IT and Facility Management. He’s passionate about agile and sustainable concepts for developing teams and organizations. Current projects are about designing and providing space for more productivity and serendipitous collisions. E-mail [email protected]