Reinventing Organizations

Reinventing Organizations is a book which does a good job of describing aspects of the new ways people are finding to work together. The book organises worldviews into groups and lables them with colors. This is somewhat useful for understanding people's different approaches to organisations. Here's some exerpts which hopefully present the main ideas in the book. The book is worth reading in its entirety. You can buy it at the site, or also download it for free and give the author a donation.

Some questions from the book
Can we create organizations free of the pathologies that show up all too often in the workplace? Free of politics, bureaucracy, and infighting; free of stress and burnout; free of resignation, resentment, and apathy; free of the posturing at the top and the drudgery at the bottom?
Is it possible to devise a new model for organizations that makes work productive, fulfilling, and meaningful?
Can we create soulful workplaces―schools, hospitals, businesses, and nonprofits―where our talents can blossom and our callings can be honored?

We evolve in leaps and jumps, not smooth curves
It turns out that, throughout history, the types of organizations we have invented were tied to the prevailing worldview and consciousness. Every time that we, as a species, have changed the way we think about the world, we have come up with more powerful types of organizations.

In their exploration, they found consistently that humanity evolves in stages. We are not like trees that grow continuously. We evolve by sudden transformations, like a caterpillar that becomes a butterfly, or a tadpole a frog. Our knowledge about the stages of human development is now extremely robust. Two thinkers in particular―Ken Wilber and Jenny Wade―have done remarkable work comparing and contrasting all the major stage models and have discovered strong convergence. Every model might look at one side of the mountain (one looks at needs, another at cognition, for instance), but it’s the same mountain. They may give somewhat different names to the stages or sometimes subdivide or regroup them differently.

Stages of Human Organization

Every paradigm includes and transcends the previous. So if we have learned to operate from, say, Achievement-Orange, we still have the ability, when appropriate, to also react from Conformist- Amber or Impulsive-Red. Even the opposite is true to some extent: were we to be surrounded by people operating from a later stage, for example, Pluralistic-Green, we could temporarily display Green behaviors, even though we wouldn’t yet have integrated this stage.

There are many dimensions of human development―cognitive, moral, psychological, social, spiritual, and so on―and we don’t necessarily grow at the same pace in all of them. For example, we might have internalized Orange cognition and be running an innovative business, but on the spiritual side, we espouse an Amber Christian fundamentalist belief.
For these reasons, I cringe when I hear people say that someone is Green, or Orange, or Amber. At best, we can say (and I have made every effort to stick to this vocabulary) that in a specific moment a person “operates from” one type of paradigm.

Some Examples:
• If the boss can freely, on a whim, decide to increase or reduce pay, that would be consistent with the Impulsive-Red paradigm.
• If salaries are fixed and determined by the person’s level in the hierarchy (or the person’s diploma), that sounds like Conformist- Amber.
• A system that stresses individual incentives if people reach predetermined targets probably stems from an Achievement- Orange worldview.
• A focus on team bonuses would be in line with a Pluralistic-Green perspective.

Taming the fears of the ego

What replaces fear? A capacity to trust the abundance of life. All wisdom traditions posit the profound truth that there are two fundamental ways to live life: from fear and scarcity or from trust and abundance. In Evolutionary-Teal, we cross the chasm and learn to decrease our need to control people and events. We come to believe that even if something unexpected happens or if we make mistakes, things will turn out all right, and when they don’t, life will have given us an opportunity to learn and grow.

Inner rightness as compass
When we are fused with our ego, we are driven to make decisions informed by external factors―what others will think or what outcomes can be achieved. In the Impulsive-Red perspective, a good decision is the one that gets me what I want. In Conformist-Amber, we hold decisions up to the light of conformity to social norms. Decisions beyond what one’s family, religion, or social class considers legitimate cause guilt and shame. In Achievement-Orange, effectiveness and success are the yard- sticks by which decisions are made. In Pluralistic-Green, matters are judged by the criteria of belonging and harmony.

In Evolutionary-Teal, we shift from external to internal yardsticks in our decision-making. We are now concerned with the question of inner rightness: does this decision seem right? Am I being true to myself? Is this in line with who I sense I’m called to become? Am I being of service to the world? With fewer ego-fears, we are able to make decisions that might seem risky, where we haven’t weighed all possible outcomes, but that resonate with deep inner convictions. We develop a sensitivity for situa- tions that don’t quite feel right, situations that demand that we speak up and take action, even in the face of opposition or with seemingly low odds of success, out of a sense of integrity and authenticity.

Life as a journey of unfolding
If we “go Teal,” then instead of setting goals for our life, dictating what direction it should take, we learn to let go and listen to the life that wants to be lived through us.

Behind the understanding of vocation is a truth that the ego does not want to hear because it threatens the ego’s turf: everyone has a life that is different from the “I” of daily consciousness, a life that is trying to live through the “I” who is its vessel. …
It takes time and hard experience to sense the difference between the two―to sense that running beneath the surface of the experience I call my life, there is a deeper and truer life waiting to be acknowledged. —Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak
Individuals who live from this perspective and connect to a deeper sense of purpose can become quite fearless in pursuit of their calling. With their ego under control, they don’t fear failure as much as not trying. …Someone operating from Teal was “a person who has ambition, but is not ambitious.”
Growing into their true nature and working toward their calling is their driving force, so much so that to others who don’t come from the same perspective, persons operating from Teal can sometimes come across as impatient with people who impede their personal growth, or with situations that don’t feel aligned with the purpose they perceive for their life.

Building on strengths
When we set goals for our life that are disconnected from our deeper selfhood, when we wear other people’s faces, we don’t stand in the strength of our selfhood. Inevitably we will find ourselves lacking and invest much energy in trying to overcome our weaknesses, or in blaming ourselves or others for not being who we think we ought to be.

When we see our life as a journey of unfolding toward our true nature, we can look more gently and realistically at our limitations and be at peace with what we see. Life is not asking us to become anything that isn’t already seeded in us. We also tend to focus less on what is wrong or missing in people and situations around us and move our attention instead to what is there, to the beauty and the potential. We trade in judgment for compassion and appreciation. Psychologists talk about a shift from a deficit to a strength-based paradigm. Slowly, this shift is making profound inroads in different fields, from management to education, from psychology to health care―starting with the premise that, as human beings, we are not problems waiting to be solved, but potential waiting to unfold.

Dealing gracefully with adversity
When life is seen as a journey of discovery, then we learn to deal more gracefully with the setbacks, the mistakes, and the roadblocks in our life. We can start to grasp the spiritual insight that there are no mistakes, simply experiences that point us to a deeper truth about ourselves and the world.

Obstacles are seen as life’s way to teach us about ourselves and about the world. We are ready to let go of anger, shame, and blame, which are useful shields for the ego but poor teachers for the soul. We embrace the possibility that we played a part in creating the problem, and inquire what we can learn so as to grow from it. In earlier paradigms, we often convince ourselves that everything is all right until a problem has snowballed and hits us like an avalanche, forcing change into our life. Now, we tend to make frequent small adjustments, as we learn and grow from problems we encounter along the way. In previous stages, change on a personal level feels threatening; as of Evolutionary- Teal, there is often an enjoyable tension in the journey of personal growth.

Wisdom beyond rationality
Beyond facts and figures, cognition at this stage taps a broader range of sources to support decision-making. The Orange modern-scien- tific perspective is wary of emotions that could cloud our ability to reason rationally, whereas Green sometimes goes to the other extreme, rejecting analytical “left brain” approaches
for “right brain” feeling as a basis for decision-making. Teal is happy to tap into all the domains of knowing. There are insights to be gained from analytical approaches. There is also wisdom to be found in emotions if we learn to inquire into their significance: Why am I angry, fearful, ambitious, or excited? What does this reveal about me or about the situation that is unfolding?

Wisdom can be found in intuition, too. Intuition honors the complex, ambiguous, paradoxical, non-linear nature of reality; we un- consciously connect patterns in a way that our rational mind cannot. Intuition is a muscle that can be trained, just like logical thinking: when we learn to pay attention to our intuitions, to honor them, to question them for the truth and guidance they might contain, more intuitive answers will surface.
Another cognitive breakthrough is the ability to reason in paradox, transcending the simple either-or with more complex both-and thinking. Breathing in and breathing out provides an easy illustration of the differ- ence. In either-or thinking, we see them as opposites. In both-and thinking, we view them as two elements that need each other: the more we can breathe in, the more we can breathe out. The paradox is easy to grasp for breathing in and out; it is less obvious for some of the great paradoxes of life that we only start to truly understand when we reach Teal: freedom and responsibility, solitude and community, tending to the self and tending to others.

Put this all together―a fearless rationality and the wisdom that can be found in emotions, intuition, events, and paradoxes―and Evolu- tionary-Teal turns the page from the rational-reductionist world-view of Orange and the post-modern worldview of Green to a holistic approach to knowing.

Striving for wholeness
In Evolutionary-Teal, we can transcend the opposites of judgment and tolerance. In earlier stages, when we disagree with other people, we often meet them in judgment, believing that we must be right and they must be wrong. Our task then is to convince, teach, fix, or dismiss them. Or we can, in the name of tolerance, the Green ideal, gloss over our differences and affirm that all truths are equally valid. In Teal, we can transcend this polarity and integrate with the higher truth of non- judgment―we can examine our belief and find it to be superior in truth and yet embrace the other as a human being of fundamentally equal value.
In the absence of judgment, relationships take on a new quality. Our listening is no longer limited to gathering information so as to better convince, fix, or dismiss. We can create a shared space safe from judgment, where our deep listening helps others to find their voice and their truth, just as they help us find ours. In Orange, we broke free from the oppressive, normative communities of Amber. Now we have a chance to recreate community on new grounding, where we listen each other into selfhood and wholeness.

Effective groups solutions to complex problems
I took a group of people who thought the same way, and I put them in situations ... where they were required to solve problems with multiple answers. ... and lo and behold, when the results started to come in I found this most peculiar phenomenon: the [Teals] find unbelievably more solutions than all the others put together. They found more solutions than the [Red] plus the [Amber] plus the [Orange] plus the [Green]. I found that the quality of their solutions to problems were amazingly better. ... I found that the average time it took the [Teal] group to arrive at a solution was amazingly shorter than it took any of the other groups.6
It appears that the law of evolution holds true for Evolutionary- Teal as much as it did for previous paradigms: the more complex our worldview and cognition, the more effectively we can deal with problems we face.