The three breakthroughs that Frederic Laloux discovered during his research on the Reinventing Organizations: A Guide to Creating Organizations Inspired by Next Stage of Human Consciousness—evolutionary purpose, self-management, and wholeness—have profound implications way beyond the organizational context. They can serve as a guide to our personal and planetary development as well, if we explore their meaning in the zoom-in scale of the individual and the zoom-out scale of social and global systems. In this column, I suggest ways for using them to support our individual journey to Teal. In the next one, in the November 2015 issue, I will dive into their planetary dimension.
“Teal” is a fast-spreading meme, introduced by integral philosopher Ken Wilber and popularized by Laloux’s book. It is a shorthand for the “next stage in human consciousness” referred to in the book’s subtitle. People in Teal-inspired companies are frequently asking, what is the essential quality of an individual at the Teal stage of development? To answer in 10 words or less, I’d say: sensing, thinking, speaking, acting beyond “small self”, with increasing consistency. The next question I hear from them is what it takes to get there? What do we need to strengthen in ourselves to develop that quality of being?
If you’re aspiring for that, the following simple framework that outlines some of the core competences to cultivate, might help. It was inspired by Frederic Laloux’s book Reinventing Organizations and based on my action-inquiry into what “evolutionary purpose”, “wholeness” and “self-management” mean as individual practices.
This framework is in continuous development, fed by the experience of my work with leaders in various “next-stage” organizations, aspiring to more fully embody Teal ways of being and working. Of course, I’m also looking for learning from your comments and self-observations of how the suggested three disciplines work for you. Please leave a reply at the bottom of this page.
- Evolutionary purpose
“What is this life, this living system’s creative potential? That’s what we mean by evolutionary purpose: The deepest creative potential to bring something new to life, to contribute something energetically, valuable to the world.”
When Brian Robertson wrote that, he had organizations in mind and so did Laloux when he quoted Robertson in his book. However organizational reinvention efforts tend to fail if their champions don’t seek to realize the Teal breakthroughs, including their own life being pulled forward by an evolutionary purpose.
To find that kind of purpose, you have to reach for a space where your heart’s true desire, your deepest talents, and highest aspirations meet a need in your community, organization and the world, which you feel called to address.
Take your time to re-read and sit with the paragraph above. Turn your attention to your breath, as you re-read it. Listen to the creative impulse that wants to manifest through you, by asking: In what kind work can I find most joy? What is the tension in my environment that is crying out the loudest for my help? Where the answers to those questions meet, there you will find your evolutionary purpose. For now.
Then, you need to keep those questions fresh, vibrantly alive, and use them as the North Star on your journey to the land of Teal freedom from slavery imposed by your “small self”.
People in self-managed companies need to operate from a deeper knowledge of both self and their work environment. A low level of knowledge of the organization’s operating conditions, of the Roles and Accountabilities that dovetail with one’s own, can undermine one’s effectiveness in a self-managed organization. A low level of awareness of one’s own needs, values, moods and of tools for managing them, can cause the same.
Self-management in an individual context calls for a moment-to-moment awareness of what arises from within, as well as of tensions and opportunities for individual action arising from the workplace. Only then can individuals and groups develop practices that prepare them to work together harmoniously under any condition, even challenging situations.
The requisite competences in self-management include self-reflection, quiet-mind skills, perspective-taking, listening to and “reading” our felt sense, and paying attention to what we pay attention to.
Here’s an example of simple practices to grow your “quiet mind” muscles that you can exercise right now. As you read the rest of this column, try to remember to keep some of your attention on your breath at the same time as you’re getting the meaning of each sentence. This one is not an easy practice because the mind tends to jump either to the sentence or to the breath, instead remaining alert to both. But as with any practice, over time, you can become better at it.
You may find that helpful when, next time, you talk with someone and try to pay attention to your breath or heartbeat, while fully absorbing what you hear from the other person. Notice how this changes the quality of your presence to yourself and to her or him.
People “going Teal” enjoy bringing the whole of who they are to work, instead the mask of a narrow, “professional self.” They feel free to share the inner experience of their work and show up in authentic way without hiding their vulnerability.. Tealers are in touch with their emotions and capable to express even the so-called “negative” ones, without harming others. They don’t play “games” and enjoy genuine relationships with no need to play “nice”.
Another aspect of your wholeness manifests in the conscious relating to the variety of roles you are energizing in work and life, as expressing and energizing the multi-dimensional creativity of all who you are. Why not create now (and update periodically) a profile of the roles that you’re filling, and make an inventory of various talents of yours that come out to play in each. Explore how they contribute to strengthen each other.
The requisite competences of growing in wholeness include: conflict resolution, intuition, imagination, generative listening, celebrating accomplishments, and managing the distribution of one’s attention and energy across a portfolio of one’s roles, and most importantly, caring for the wellbeing of all aspects of a diversity, and align them functionally into a working system.
(Read also the blog on What does Wholeness mean in the context of Teal Organising?, by my colleague, Celine McKeown.)
If you feel like accelerating your journey
Some people are happy to learn from life haphazardly, others are more intentional and prefer to accelerate their evolutionary journey. Chances are that you belong to the second group and want to know what you can do to move along the path a bit more briskly. If that’s the case, here are a few tips.
- For starters, read the Reinventing Organizations book, watch the video, and browse the wiki.
- Then join a meet-up group or a community of practice or an online network, focused on next-stage, or self-managing, or Teal organizations, under any other name, and explore with them what “next stage” means in an individual context for other people.
- Support and get involved with Enlivening Edge.
- Find and engage the service of a personal mentor trained in vertical development. If you do, make sure that the chosen person honors this timeless wisdom: “Only what you are, what you have realized and embodied, can you support in others.” (Thomas Hübl)
One last thought. Never forget that Teal is not a thing to acquire but an experience to enjoy. Yes, it is also a stage on our journey, but not the end stage, because our evolution is never ending. And because we can’t evolve as separate selves, only co-evolve with others, sharing the journey with caring others is the best way to reach your next stage of potential whatever it is.
George Pór is an evolutionary thinker, strategic learning partner to Teal-inspired changemakers, and social movement builder, living in London. He is a Fellow of Future Considerations, originator and Lead Link of Enlivening Edge.