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What are "Teal" organisations?

‘Teal’ is a term, coined by Frederick Laloux in his 2014 book, Reinventing Organizations, used to describe organisations structured for the next stage of human development.

In the book, using theory and a range of case studies, Laloux outlined what he (and others) saw as the various historical stages of human development; each stage bringing with it a step change in how humanity organises itself. Laloux allocated a colour to each stage (see: "What are Laloux's Evolutionary Breakthroughs in Human Collaboration"?). “Teal” is the final colour on Laloux’s trajectory of human development and the associated organisational models. ‘Teal’ describes a stage that has already arrived, but one that only a few organisations have adopted structurally. As a phrase, “Teal” has been adopted primarily by people aware of Laloux’s work, as opposed to it being the accepted, formal terminology for this new stage.

The Teal paradigm is present in organisations that:

  • See themselves as far more than entities that exist merely to achieve management objectives
  • Pursue an extensive degree of self-organisation and self-management
  • Structure themselves in small, decentralised teams with very high (almost total) local autonomy
  • Remove command-and-control and predict-and-control cultures
  • Fit multiple roles around an individual (often self-selected), rather than fit that person into a singular, relatively fixed position
  • Default to a strength-based, not a problem-solving mindset, particularly in the case of personnel - i.e. building around someone’s strengths, not fixing their weaknesses
  • Have decision making driven by a clear and inspiring purpose that is evolutionary (not static) as opposed to the instructions of a more senior manager
  • Rapidly respond to new ideas and changing contexts (social, economic, technological, etc.)
  • Have high levels of democratisation and minimal levels of bureaucratisation
  • Default to open: sharing information is preferred to keeping it private
  • Make innovation the responsibility of everyone, all the time
  • Seek wisdom and inspiration outside the rational, logical, scientific methods
  • Encourage higher consciousness as not just a valid expression of humanity but as an imperative source of wholeness, energy and creativity
  • Liken themselves to a living (eco)system more than a machine
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  1. John Featherby

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