Reinventing Organizations

Reinventing Organizations

Reinventing Organizations a book from Frederic Laloux, is structured in 3 main parts:

  • The first one describes the evolution of organizations
  • The second one presents the practices of evolutionary organizations
  • The third one the emergence of those organizations

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History

The author uses color coding and starts the story with the first groups of human (Infra-Red) who where evolving in groups of around 12 people. The group cannot scale above this size. Then came a period when explanations of what is happening are provided through magic (Magenta) the group is lead by elders wisdom and chamans (in a dangerous world, being alive is a proof of wisdom).

The next stage (Red) enables the organization to grow, the organization depends from a chief with all powers, and those chiefs will demonstrate theirs powers at every opportunity. Examples of those kinds of organizations are regularly finger-pointed: gangs, mafia…

The next stage is the “Command & Control” conformist organization (Amber), human groups can settle and start agriculture and first forms of civilization, they can start to plan for long-term and the group can continue to grow. Those organizations are often described from their tendencies to polarize: good versus evil, us versus them… One of the examples given by the author to illustrate those kinds of organizations is the Catholic Church.

Another stage further is the “Predict & Control” achievement organization (Orange). Those organizations use Management by objectives, process, projects. They have a lot of staff functions that define how the others in the organization must work (HR, Marketing, Finances…). Organization is seen as a machine. The organization is rational, hierarchical, ego is absolute there, social inequality rules.

The Pluralistic organization (Green) is described as a family. Respect, fairness, community, stakeholders interest are important things. Those are value driven culture organizations that work for an inspirational purpose.

Every evolution leads to look at the previous stage as retarded ones… And it will happen probably for the next stage.

The last current stage (Teal) is describe as living systems. Ego is not absolute but a variable, they are looking for wholeness. Those organization are built on principles like self-actualization, building on strengths, wisdom, peers relationships. They have no hierarchy, and few staff as advisory.

Practices

The part 2 presents practices of teal organization discovered during research conducted by the author in several organizations. Those organizations don’t know each others, are from several sectors and sizes, and share a lot of practices.

Those practices are grouped by 3 principles:

  • self-management
  • wholeness
  • evolutionary purpose

The comparison between Orange and Teal organizations is really interesting. You will find below comparative charts that you will find in the book.

Emergence

Frederic Laloux describe in the last part the emergence of teal organizations and the impact on the whole society.

The author gives ideas to start a new company and transform an existing one, with teal organization’s principles.

This book was discussed during the session of Saturday September 19th of the Bordeaux Book discussion club. Passionate discussions that lead me to tell you to read this book.

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To taste what you can find in the book, you can have a look to a conference given by the author:

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