B Corps have an opportunity to dramatically increase their social and environmental performance by upgrading their internal management practices.
The organizations Laloux chose to research had the most advanced practices from a management point of view—not necessarily from an external social and environmental point of view. It left me wondering: Aren’t the two meant to go together? Laloux told me in an interview that he agrees they are. The 12 organizations he researched had advanced internal management practices, but some of them were no more advanced from a social or environmental perspective than your average company.
Without adopting Teal practices, I believe the B Corp movement will eventually reach a ceiling in the amount of positive impact it can create (regardless of a strong focus on culture and values).
I believe B Corps have an opportunity to create unprecedented impact if they let go of their hierarchical pyramid structure in favor of self-management, and learn to view themselves as a living entity, with their own creative potential and evolutionary purpose.
This is already starting to happen. Several B Corps—such as Mightybytes, CauseLabs, WorldCentric, LIFT Economy, and the Ian Martin Group—have been inspired by Reinventing Organizations to make the leap to Teal. Fitzii, a line of business within the Ian Martin Group, for instance, has made some major changes in the last six months: sharing compensation structures in full transparency, instituting a number of practices supporting “wholeness,” and making plans for instituting peer-based performance evaluations. [See their report on their experience in Enlivening Edge, here.]
These are early days for this new management paradigm. But one thing seems clear: High-impact, Teal B Corps could be an incredible force for good. It’s time to open a conversation within the B Corp community, and within the circles of social entrepreneurship more broadly, about next-stage management practices as a way to accelerate the positive impact we can create in the world.
Ryan Honeyman (@honeymanconsult) is a sustainability consultant and author of The B Corp Handbook: How to Use Business as a Force for Good (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, October 2014).