Reinventing Organizations: A Radically Inspiring Way to Work Together

I am beyond blessed to work at a place that thinks deeply about not only the type of business that we do but also the way that we go about it. We move and adapt and experiment with new ideas all the time. And I think we’re on to something pretty special.

Reinventing Organizations by Frederic Laloux might fundamentally change the way we do things. It tells the story of how companies have evolved along a spectrum of paradigms and ideas to the point where we’re capable of a pretty rad new way of working together.

The spectrum looks a bit like this:

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The final step, the Teal step, is where we’re headed.

I’ve been involved with Amber and Orange organizations, and I’ve admired Green organizations from afar. Reading about Teal organizations has blown away my expectations and ideas about how to work, and I couldn’t be happier.

From the book:

Extraordinary things begin to happen when we dare to bring all of who we are to work.

Reinventing Organizations summarizes the main characteristics of Teal organizations into three parts:

  • Self-management. Everyone follows their interests and passions.
  • Wholeness. Everyone feels comfortable bringing their whole self to work.
  • Evolutionary purpose. The organization grows organically in the direction that it’s meant to.

This means no hierarchy or org chart for the company; we’re all a hybrid version of self-employed, in a certain sense. We’re trusted and valued and free. We share deeply and engage fully with every part of our being—hopes, fears, strengths, weaknesses, gratitude, humility, love, and whatever else you care to share. And when it comes to setting the vision for the future, we let the vision set itself.

It’s radical and beautiful and edifying and perfect. I want to hand a copy of the book to everyone I know and place it on the syllabus for every business class there is. I want everyone to be able to work this way. I’m beyond grateful that I get the chance to do so.

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Reinventing Organizations by Frederic Laloux

The following are excerpts taken from Frederic Laloux’s Reinventing Organizations. Bold and italics are mine.

***

At the individual level, people operating from a Conformist-Amber paradigm strive for order and predictability; change is viewed with suspicion. The same holds true for Amber Organizations, which are exceptionally well-suited for stable contexts, where the future can be planned based on past experience.

In Red Organizations, power structures are in constant flux as personalities jockey for influence. Conformist-Amber Organizations bring stability to power, with formal titles, fixed hierarchies, and organization charts. The overall structure settles into a rigid pyramid.

In a Conformist-Amber organization, the underlying worldview is that workers are mostly lazy, dishonest, and in need of direction. They must be supervised and told what is expected of them. Participatory management seems foolish from a Conformist-Amber perspective; management must rely on command and control to achieve results. Jobs at the frontlines are narrow and routine-based. Innovation, critical thinking, and self-expression are not asked for (and often discouraged). Information is shared on an as-needed basis. People are effectively interchangeable resources; individual talent is neither discerned nor developed.

Amber Organizations have definitive silos, and groups eye each other with suspicion across silos.

We live our lives on the assumption that achieving the next goal (getting the next promotion, finding a life partner, moving to a new house, or buying a new car) will make us happy. In Orange, we effectively live in the future, consumed by mental chatter about the things we need to do so as to reach the goals we have set for ourselves. We hardly ever make it back to the present moment, where we can appreciate the gifts and freedom the shift to Orange has brought us.

Street gangs and mafias are contemporary examples of Red Organizations.

The Catholic Church, the military, and the public school system are archetypes of Amber Organizations.

Modern global corporations are the embodiment of Orange Organizations.

Amber Organizations are entirely process driven; Orange Organizations are process and project driven.

Achievement-Orange thinks of organizations as machines, a heritage from reductionist science and the industrial age. The engineering jargon we use to talk about organizations reveals how deeply (albeit often unconsciously) we hold this metaphor in the world today. We talk about units and layers, inputs and outputs, efficiency and effectiveness, pulling the lever and moving the needle, accelerating and hitting the brakes, scoping problems and scaling solutions, information flows and bottlenecks, re-engineering and downsizing.

In Achievement-Orange, humans are resources that must be carefully aligned on the chart, rather like cogs in a machine. Changes must be planned and mapped out in blueprints, then carefully implemented according to plan. If some of the machinery functions below the expected rhythm, it’s probably time for a “soft” intervention—the occasional team-building—like injecting oil to grease the wheels.

We increasingly come to see that much of this economy based on fabricated needs is unsustainable from a financial and ecological perspective. We have reached a stage where we often pursue growth for growth’s sake, a condition that in medical terminology would simply be called cancer.

Another shadow appears when success is measured solely in terms of money and recognition. When growth and the bottom line are all that count, when the only successful life is the one that reaches the top, we are bound to experience a sense of emptiness in our lives.

With the shift to reason and worldcentric morality, we see the rise of the modern liberation movements: liberation of slaves, of women, of the untouchables. Not what is right for me or my tribe, or my mythology, or my religion, but what is fair and right and just for all humans, regardless of race, sex, caste or creed.

Some of the most celebrated and successful companies of the last decades—companies like Southwest Airlines, Ben & Jerry’s, and The Container Store, to name only few—are run on Green practices and culture.

In some innovative companies, managers are not appointed from above, but from below: subordinates choose their boss, after interviewing prospective candidates.

There is nothing inherently “better” about being at a higher level of development, just as an adolescent is not “better” than a toddler. However, the fact remains that an adolescent is able to do more, because he or she can think in more sophisticated ways than a toddler. Any level of development is okay; the question is whether that level of development is a good fit for the task at hand.

I cringe when I hear people say that someone is Green, or Orange, or Amber. At best, we can say (and I have made every effort to stick to this vocabulary) that in a specific moment a person “operates from” one type of paradigm.

The shift to Evolutionary-Teal happens when we learn to disidentify from our own ego.

By looking at our ego from a distance, we can suddenly see how its fears, ambitions, and desires often run our life.

We can learn to minimize our need to control, to look good, to fit in. We are no longer fused with our ego, and we don’t let its fears reflexively control our lives. In the process, we make room to listen to the wisdom of other, deeper parts of ourselves.

What replaces fear? A capacity to trust the abundance of life. All wisdom traditions posit the profound truth that there are two fundamental ways to live life: from fear and scarcity or from trust and abundance. In Evolutionary-Teal, we cross the chasm and learn to decrease our need to control people and events. We come to believe that even if something unexpected happens or if we make mistakes, things will turn out all right, and when they don’t, life will have given us an opportunity to learn and grow.

In Evolutionary-Teal, we shift from external to internal yardsticks in our decision-making. We are now concerned with the question of inner rightness: does this decision seem right? Am I being true to myself? Is this in line with who I sense I’m called to become? Am I being of service to the world?

With fewer ego-fears, we are able to make decisions that might seem risky, where we haven’t weighed all possible outcomes, but that resonate with deep inner convictions. We develop a sensitivity for situations that don’t quite feel right, situations that demand that we speak up and take action, even in the face of opposition or with seemingly low odds of success, out of a sense of integrity and authenticity.

We do not pursue recognition, success, wealth, and belonging to live a good life. We pursue a life well-lived, and the consequence might just be recognition, success, wealth, and love.

The ultimate goal in life is not to be successful or loved, but to become the truest expression of ourselves, to live into authentic selfhood, to honor our birthright gifts and callings, and be of service to humanity and our world. In Teal, life is seen as a journey of personal and collective unfolding toward our true nature.

If we “go Teal,” then instead of setting goals for our life, dictating what direction it should take, we learn to let go and listen to the life that wants to be lived through us.

Someone operating from Teal is “a person who has ambition, but is not ambitious.”

– Clare Graves

Growing into their true nature and working toward their calling is their driving force, so much so that to others who don’t come from the same perspective, persons operating from Teal can sometimes come across as impatient with people who impede their personal growth, or with situations that don’t feel aligned with the purpose they perceive for their life.

When we see our life as a journey of unfolding toward our true nature, we can look more gently and realistically at our limitations and be at peace with what we see. Life is not asking us to become anything that isn’t already seeded in us. We also tend to focus less on what is wrong or missing in people and situations around us and move our attention instead to what is there, to the beauty and the potential.

Another cognitive breakthrough is the ability to reason in paradox, transcending the simple either-or with more complex both-and thinking.

Breathing in and breathing out provides an easy illustration of the difference. In either-or thinking, we see them as opposites. In both-and thinking, we view them as two elements that need each other: the more we can breathe in, the more we can breathe out. The paradox is easy to grasp for breathing in and out; it is less obvious for some of the great paradoxes of life that we only start to truly understand when we reach Teal: freedom and responsibility, solitude and community, tending to the self and tending to others.

For people transitioning to Teal, these separations in the workplace often become so painful that they choose to leave organizational life for some form of self-employment, a more accommodating context to find wholeness with themselves and with others.

Why are video games more popular than work? … Why do many workers spend years dreaming about and planning for retirement? The reason is simple and dispiriting. We have made the workplace a frustrating and joyless place where people do what they’re told and have few ways to participate in decisions or fully use their talents. As a result, they naturally gravitate to pursuits in which they can exercise a measure of control over their lives.

What if power weren’t a zero-sum game? What if we could create organizational structures and practices that didn’t need empowerment because, by design, everybody was powerful and no one powerless?

With no boss in the room, no one can call the shots or make the final call. Instead, Buurtzorg teams use a very precise and efficient method for joint problem solving and decision-making.

The group first chooses a facilitator for the meeting. The agenda of topics to be discussed is put together on the spot, based on what is present for team members at that moment in time. The facilitator is not to make any statements, suggestions, or decisions; she can only ask questions: “What is your proposal?” or “What is the rationale for your proposal?” All proposals are listed on a flipchart.

In a second round, proposals are reviewed, improved, and refined. In a third round, proposals are put to a group decision. The basis for decision-making is not consensus. For a solution to be adopted, it is enough that nobody has a principled objection. A person cannot veto a decision because she feels another solution (for example, hers!) would have been preferable. The perfect solution that all would embrace wholeheartedly might not exist, and its pursuit could prove exhausting. As long as there is no principled objection, a solution will be adopted, with the understanding that it can be revisited at any time when new information is available.

The teams know they have all the power and latitude to solve their problems. Learning to live with that amount of freedom and responsibility can take some time, and there are often moments of doubt, frustration, or confusion. It’s a journey of personal unfolding, in which true professionals are born.

It’s okay for teams to struggle. From struggle comes learning. And teams that have gone through difficult moments build resilience and a deep sense of community.

Teams hold short meetings (daily, weekly, or monthly) to align and make decisions; beyond that, there tend to be no regularly scheduled meetings at all. Meetings are planned only ad hoc, when a topic demands attention, with the relevant people around the table. It’s an organic way of running an organization, where structure follows emerging needs and not the other way around.

Zobrist gave him an answer in keeping with his usual leadership style: “Go do it. I believe you have what it takes to be successful in that role. But it’s not my decision. You need to show the teams that your role is worthwhile to them.”

Reverse delegation: The expectation is that the frontline teams do everything, except for the things they choose to push upward.

Workers and employees are seen as reasonable people that can be trusted to do the right thing. With that premise, very few rules and control mechanisms are needed.

Google has the famous practice of “20 percent time”—engineers are free to decide how to spend their Fridays. Sun and other self-managing organizations basically extend this to the whole week.

“Things do fall through the cracks occasionally,” the engineer conceded. But that is often to be welcomed as the outcome of a collective prioritization effort; the system simply roots out a project that doesn’t seem promising or important after all. If it had been, someone would have picked it up.

Whenever a team stumbles upon a problem or an opportunity, as happens every day, the issue is logged in a logbook. Anybody can volunteer to tackle an item by writing his or her initials next to the issue in the logbook. Typically, the two or three people that are most affected or interested decide to join forces and analyze the issue. If no one picks up a certain problem or opportunity, it probably means it is not important. Otherwise it will come up again, and someone will end up tackling it.

Valve, a Seattle game-software company whose 400 employees work entirely based on self-management principles, has pushed the physical fluidity a step further. All employees have desks on wheels. Every day, some people will roll their desk to a new place, depending on the projects they join or leave. All it takes is unplugging the cables from the wall in one place and plugging them in somewhere else. The fluid way Valve runs projects (people vote with their feet) is physically reflected in the office space, in the form of ever-morphing clusters of desks huddling together to get work done. Because people move around so often, the company has created an app on its intranet to locate colleagues. It renders a map of the office in real-time, showing the spots where people have plugged their computers into the wall.

The organizations I researched didn’t only drop job titles; almost all of them also decided to drop words like employee, worker, or manager, and replace them with something else—most often simply colleague.

Students are encouraged to find out what matters to them, to aim high, to fail, to try again, and to celebrate their accomplishments.

When there is value in coordination, people simply start to coordinate.

All-hands meetings are another standard practice in many Teal Organizations. They are typically held when there is new and important information to share: quarterly results, the annual values survey, a strategic inflection point, and so forth. The information is not simply shared top-down—it is discussed and debated. There tends to be no script to the meetings. Questions can take the meeting in any direction; frustrations can be vented; accomplishments and people spontaneously celebrated.

They decided that two principles, two basic social values, should inspire every management practice at Morning Star: individuals should never use force against other people and they should honor their commitments.

Several other organizations in this research rely on virtually identical conflict resolution mechanisms: first a one-on-one discussion, then mediation by a trusted peer, and finally mediation by a panel.

For each role, you specify what it does, what authority you believe you should have (act, recommend, decide, or a combination thereof), what indicators will help you understand if you are doing a good job, and what improvements you hope to make on those indicators.

Notice too how within such a system that there are no layers and thus no promotions. What happens is that people, as they grow in experience, take on roles with larger responsibilities and offload simpler ones to new recruits or more junior colleagues.

One of the core elements of Holacracy, which can be found in all Teal Organizations in this research, is to separate role from soul, to break the fusion of identity between people and their job titles.

In holacratic language, people don’t have a job, but fill a number of granular roles.

It’s okay to sometimes forgo a nice role for a while. Nothing is written in stone; new interesting roles will come around.

To make it easy to trade roles across teams as well as within them, HolacracyOne has set up a company-wide Role Market Place (in holacratic language, this is an “app;” it’s not part of the basic operating system). On the company’s intranet is a file where colleagues can “rate” every role they currently fill, using a scale of -3 to +3: If they find the role energizing (+) or draining (-) If they find their talents aligned (+) or not (-) with this role If they find their current skills and knowledge conducive to (+) or limiting in (-) this role Using the same scale of -3 to +3, people can also signal their interest in roles currently filled by other people. The market place helps people wanting to offload and people wanting to pick up roles to find each other more easily.

In self-managing organizations that have no managers to keep up the pressure, what prevents teams from getting complacent? The short answer: intrinsic motivation, calibrated by peer emulation and market demands.

The better question, though, might be: what makes us think that people need to be put under pressure to perform?

If people stop working with enthusiasm and productivity drops, it is generally the symptom of a problem that needs addressing—for example, relational problems in the team or roles that need to be reallocated. Resolve the problem and spirits are restored.

Our egos may be wary of feedback, but we are relational beings that thrive on honest feedback. I’ve seen organizations where no feedback is ever exchanged “go mad” because of it.

What about Evolutionary-Teal? It values intrinsic over extrinsic motivators. Once people make enough money to cover their basic needs, what matters more than incentives and bonuses is that work is meaningful and that they can express their talents and callings at work.

Another perspective is that all colleagues are fundamentally of equal worth and that all work done with love and dedication is to be honored equally, be it strategic thinking or scrubbing the floors.

How we think about compensation is ultimately about much more than cash—it reveals much about our relationship to money, to scarcity and abundance, and to what we value in people and in ourselves.

Form follows need.

Roles are picked up, discarded, and exchanged fluidly. Power is distributed. Decisions are made at the point of origin. Innovations can spring up from all quarters. Meetings are held when they are needed. Temporary task forces are created spontaneously and quickly disbanded again.

From an Evolutionary-Teal perspective, the right question is not: how can everyone have equal power? It is rather: how can everyone be powerful?

It’s the same in Teal Organizations: the point is not to make everyone equal; it is to allow all employees to grow into the strongest, healthiest version of themselves.

Lots of natural, evolving, overlapping hierarchies can emerge—hierarchies of development, skill, talent, expertise, and recognition.

Brian Robertson, the founder of Holacracy, put it well in a blog post: We see attempts for leaders to develop to be more conscious, aware, awake, servant leaders that are empowering.

The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra has operated since its founding in 1972 on entirely self-managing principles. The orchestra, with residence in New York’s Carnegie Hall, has earned rave reviews and is widely regarded as one of the world’s great orchestras. It operates without a conductor. Musicians from the orchestra make all artistic decisions, from choosing the repertoire to deciding how a piece ought to be played. They decide who to recruit, where to play, and with whom to collaborate.

In the online world, management writer Gary Hamel notes:

  • No one can kill a good idea
  • Everyone can pitch in
  • Anyone can lead
  • No one can dictate
  • You get to choose your cause
  • You can easily build on top of what others have done
  • You don’t have to put up with bullies and tyrants
  • Agitators don’t get marginalized
  • Excellence usually wins (and mediocrity doesn’t)
  • Passion-killing policies get reversed
  • Great contributions get recognized and celebrated

Many organizational leaders and human resource managers complain that Millennials are hard to manage. Indeed, this generation has grown up in the disruptive world of the Internet, where people’s influence is based on contribution and reputation, not position. Why would they want to put up with anything other than self-management in the workplace? Why would anyone else, for that matter?

Wisdom traditions from around the world speak to this from a deeper level: at heart, we are all profoundly interconnected and part of a whole, but it’s a truth we have forgotten. We are born into separation and raised to feel divided from our deeper nature, as well as from the people and life around us. Our deepest calling in life, these traditions tell us, is to reclaim wholeness, within ourselves and in our connection with the outside world.

Extraordinary things begin to happen when we dare to bring all of who we are to work.

Make the move from Persecutor, Rescuer, Victim, to Challenger, Coach, Creator.

Something similar has happened at Patagonia, the outdoors apparel maker. At its headquarters in Ventura, California, the company hosts a Child Development Center for employees’ children, from the tender age of a few months up to kindergarten age. Children’s laughter and chatter are among the regular sounds at the office, coming from the playground outside, from children visiting their parents’ desks, or from kids joining parents and colleagues for lunch at the cafeteria. It is not uncommon to see a mother nursing her child during a meeting.

The soul is like a wild animal. Just like a wild animal, the soul is tough, resilient, savvy, resourceful, and self-sufficient: it knows how to survive in hard places. Many of us learn about these qualities in the darkest moments of our lives when the faculties we normally depend upon utterly fail us—the intellect is useless, the emotions dead, the will impotent, and the ego shattered. But sometimes, way back in the thickets of our inner lives, we sense the presence of something that knows how to stay alive and helps us to keep going. That something, I suggest, is the tough and tenacious soul.

The goal is for the nurse to see the problem in a new light and discover her own solutions. It is at once a simple and beautiful process. Being respectfully and compassionately “held” by a group is for many people a new and unforgettable experience.

RHD’s coaching program goes one step further: it offers 10 free counseling sessions for employees and/or their families every year. No one else in the organization needs to be informed about the theme of the coaching and the theme must not be a professional topic. The program is built on the trust that if an employee is seeking support from an external coach, the topic must be important enough to be worth the money the company pays for it.

Four times a year, Heiligenfeld organizes a “mindfulness day”—a day that patients and staff spend in silence. Patients are invited to remain entirely silent (they wear a tag with the word “silence” to remind each other), while the staff speaks only when needed, in whispers (staff wear a tag with the word “mindfulness”). There are no talking therapy sessions that day. Instead, other forms of therapy take place—walks in the woods, painting, or creative activities, for instance. Information sessions help patients prepare for the day, and there are “emergency talking places” for patients who feel overwhelmed by the silence.

Collaborating in silence brings a special quality to relationships between colleagues. It requires a new level of mindfulness, listening not to what colleagues say, but to their presence, emotions, and intentions.

A staff retreat is a natural occasion for storytelling. The recruitment of a new colleague is another one. The CC&R welcomes new personnel in a special meeting. Each existing team member brings an object that symbolizes a wish for the new colleague. In turn, they present the object and share their wish. The practice is a wonderful way to celebrate the newcomer and make him or her feel welcome.

And in many ways, it serves existing team members as much as the newcomer, as they too get to know each other at a deeper level. Each wish is a story that reveals what the storyteller cherishes in the workplace and in their relationships with colleagues.

It’s customary for team members to join together for a meal with the departing colleague. Everybody comes prepared with a personal story about that person’s time with the organization. Of course, the stories are meant to celebrate the person who is leaving. But again, they reveal just as much about the storyteller—what he cherishes in other people, what touches him, what he prizes in relationships at work.

the “praise meeting.”

Every Friday afternoon, the entire school—students, teachers, and staff—comes together for an hour in a large hall. They always start by singing a song together, to settle into community. All the rest of the time together is unscripted. There is an open microphone on stage, with a simple rule: we are here to praise and thank each other. For the next 50 minutes, students and teachers who feel called to do so stand up, walk up on stage, take the microphone, and praise or thank another student or teacher for something they did or said earlier in the week; then they go sit down again and someone else takes the stage. Every person at the microphone shares what is essentially a miniature story that reveals something about two people—the storyteller and the person being praised or thanked—in their struggles and in their glories.

“good or new,” a sort of check-in for the day. Within each team, a doll is passed around, like a talking stick, and whoever has the doll can share either something new (news from something they are working on, noteworthy news they might have read in the paper when commuting, or news from their private lives) or something good, simply some moving story they want their colleagues to know about, work-related or not.

Ozvision’s second practice of storytelling aims to foster a spirit of gratitude in the organization. Each employee can take one extra day off each year, called a “day of thanking.” The employee receives $200 in cash from company funds that she can spend in any way she wants to thank someone special during that day. It can be a colleague, but it can also be a parent, a friend, a neighbor, or a long-lost but not forgotten primary school teacher. The only rule is that once she returns to work, she must share the story of what she gave and to whom and how the gift was received.

At the Center for Courage & Renewal, meetings start with a short reading that one person prepared.

FAVI, for many years, had the practice of starting every meeting with all participants sharing a brief story of someone they had recently thanked or congratulated. The practice had a beautiful effect on the meeting: it created a mood of possibility, gratitude, celebration, and trust in other people’s goodness and talents.

FAVI has kept another interesting practice around meetings. All upcoming meetings are listed on the intranet so that anybody can invite himself or herself into any meeting to share a concern or an idea. Everyone can be in the know of what happens around the company, so no one feels excluded.

But even that might not be enough. Morning Star says that conflict avoidance remains their major organizational issue. Making that first move to confront someone is hard. Some organizations, therefore, go one step further and train all their colleagues in interpersonal skills to enable them to deal gracefully with conflict.

A simple three-step process for difficult conversation:

Step 1: Here is how I feel.

Step 2: Here is what I need.

Step 3: What do you need?

With every unsettling event, we are tempted to seek refuge in separation. Our soul goes into hiding and the ego takes over, doing what it feels it needs to do to make us feel safe. But it’s a safety that comes at a cost: we now relate to others and ourselves with fear and judgment, no longer with love and acceptance. In many wisdom traditions, the highest purpose in life is overcoming separation and reclaiming wholeness.

The center simply framed a few questions that turned the appraisal into a moment of joint exploration:

Lauds:

  • What has gone really well this year that we might celebrate?

Learning:

  • What has been learned in the process?
  • What didn’t go as well or might have been done differently?
  • How do we “take stock” of where things are now compared to where we thought they might be?

Looking forward:

  • What are you most excited about in this next year?
  • What concerns you most?
  • What changes, if any, would you suggest in your functions?
  • What ongoing professional development will help you to grow in your current job and for your future?
  • How can I be of most help to you and your work?

Setting goals:

  • When you think about your work in the year ahead, what specific goals will guide you?

In a similar vein, Bob Koski, the founder of Sun Hydraulics, suggested four simple statements for the yearly appraisal discussions:

  1. State an admirable feature about the employee.
  2. Ask what contributions they have made to Sun.
  3. Ask what contributions they would like to make at Sun.
  4. Ask how Sun can help them.

At first, we can feel vulnerable when we bring more of who we are into our own awareness and into the community of our colleagues. But once we do, it is as if life has switched from black and white to full color: it becomes rich, vibrant, and meaningful. It makes business sense too. Workplaces where we feel we can show up with all of who we are unleash unprecedented energy and creativity.

The objective is purpose, not profit.

Several of the organizational founders used the same metaphor: profit is like the air we breathe. We need air to live, but we don’t live to breathe.

The organization evolves, morphs, expands, or contracts, in response to a process of collective intelligence. Reality is the great referee, not the CEO, the board or a committee. What works gathers momentum and energy within the organization; other ideas fail to catch on and wither.

In comparison, Teal Organizations’ approach to marketing is almost simplistic. The organizations simply listen in to what feels like the right offering. There are no customer surveys and no focus groups. Essentially, marketing boils down to this statement: This is our offer. At this moment, we feel this is the best we can possibly do. We hope you will like it. 

What product would we be really proud of? What product would fill a genuine need in the world? These are the kinds of questions people turn to in Teal Organizations to define new products.

FAVI believes we should think like farmers: look 20 years ahead, and plan only for the next day.

“In the new way of thinking, we aim to make money without knowing how we do it, as opposed to the old way of losing money knowing exactly how we lose it.”

– FAVI

Most business leaders would feel naked without budgets and forecasts. I put this question to Carlson: How do you deal with having no forecasts to compare people’s performance to? For instance, how do you know if the guys in Germany (where Sun has a plant) were doing a good job last year, if you have no target to compare against? His answer came shooting out of the barrel:

Who knows? Who cares? They are all working hard, doing the best they can. We have good people in all the places around the world and if I need that sort of scorecard I probably got the wrong person. That’s just the way we operate.

BerylHealth, a Texas-based company that provides call center and other services to hospitals, has come up with a variation of the school’s practice. Instead of physically coming together, a mass email chain always erupts at some point on Friday afternoon (hence the name the practice has taken: “Good Stuff Friday”). One colleague sends an email to the entire workforce recognizing and thanking a colleague or another department for something that happened that week, or simply to share some good news. The first email invariably triggers a whole avalanche of thanking and recognition. The practice builds community and closes the week in a spirit of appreciation and gratitude.

Teal Organizations look at three types of fit: fit with the role (the traditional skill and behavioral interview), fit with the organization (its values and self-management practices), and fit with its purpose.

You can buy the book here. :)

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