The concept of work in an organisation where there are no leaders, no scopes of responsibilities and no control seems to be somewhat abstract. Does it even work? The answer is “yes”. There are still very few organisations based on this concept, but the very idea is becoming increasingly popular.
The concept of the teal organisation comes from a ground-breaking book by Frenchman Frederic Laloux Reinventing Organizations, published in 2014, which has become a bestseller worldwide. The author specialises in the analysis and building of innovative organisations managed in a modern fashion. In his book, he defines different levels of human consciousness, which also translate into types of organisation created over the millennia.
Laloux differentiates five management models. He gave a symbolic colour to each of them and he put them in order from the most authoritative to the most democratic. The “evolutionary teal” was placed at the very end as the highest awareness level of organisation management.
- Red organisation
This organisation management model is based on power exercised by a chief. The employer arouses fear and treats their subordinates as objects. Goals usually have a short-term perspective. This is how gangs and the mafia operate.
- Amber organisation
The organisation structure is hierarchic as well and there is top down control and management, but the perspective is long term. The organisation operates according to specified rules. Most governmental organisations, army, police and public schools work this way.
- Orange organisation
The organisational structure is still rigid but the management pattern changes and becomes goal-oriented. The planning perspective extends. Employees play a more significant role, attention is paid to their competences. Innovativeness, responsibility and effectiveness are valued. The organisation is oriented towards goals and profit. Examples of orange organisations are corporations, banks and public universities.
- Green organisation
This management model is based on the individual, on values and interest of the employees. The structure resembles a pyramid. The chief motivates and supports their subordinates and they provide creativity and engagement in return.
- Teal organisation
The structure of such an organisation is, in fact, none. In shirt, a teal organisation is an organisation which manages itself. Employee stop being subordinates because there is no chief. There is no hierarchy and all employees are equal. People set tasks between one another themselves based on their skills and the current needs of the organisation. Decisions are made by people who have predispositions to do so. There are no bonuses, commissions, orders, competition, control and positions; in exchange, there are trust, cooperation, partnership and freedom. Employees decide themselves how much they earn, they usually receive a share in profit. They share knowledge and help one another in perfecting their skills. The organisation is transparent, the team has access to all information, including how much the other employees earn.
The three teal breakthroughs are:
Self-management – ability of the team members to self-manage, take responsibility for their actions and adjust to current challenges in a flexible manner. The effectiveness depends on interpersonal relations and erasing any resistance and habits connected with traditional hierarchy. Every team member feels responsible for the organisation.
Wholeness – the feeling that you can be yourself in work, without faking or separating the private and professional life. What is noticed and respected is not only the rationality, but also the emotionality, spirituality and intuition of co-workers. The team is aware that everyone is deeply connected to one another as a part of a larger whole. No one is blamed for any problems, solutions are sought together.
Evolutionary purpose – activity proceeds as in a living and changing entity, which has its purpose of life, and the team members help to implement it. What can be a kind of driving force is the need to create products and services needed by clients, local communities and the world.
Teal management is a concept much deeper than it seems on the surface. It is not simpler than the traditional hierarchical model, but it helps to solve such problems as no sense of impact, no engagement and no co-responsibility among employees. It also makes the company more adjusted to the market and more “agile”. It is not a good idea to begin with this management model, though. An organisation should already operate on the market for some time and in order to implement this management model, the team needs to be coherent, committed and tested and the team members must trust one another. Furthermore, a departure from the usual hierarchical model is generally neither simple nor pleasant and it can even bring loss in the short term. Despite those difficulties, the concept is not short of supporters. Teal organisations exist worldwide and in various cultures. These are both trade, service and production enterprises. Experts and enthusiasts of this concept claim that this is not a temporary trend but the direction in which management will go.
You can read about teal organisations not only in the mentioned book Reinventing Organizations, but also such book as The Doctrine of Quality by prof. Blikle. A good source of knowledge are also blogs or Facebook groups, which unites people interested in this idea. The Future of Management Is Teal article describes this topic well too. In many cities an initiative is created, consisting of regularly organizing meetings for people who want to learn more about teal organisations.