Teal the leap from proto-empires to the age of

Teal paradigm is
the next level in the evolution of human consciousness. In order to understand
the teal paradigm and why this evolution in way of management is happening. An
overview of all the previous organizational paradigms is needed. The foraging
bands and authority by the Elders will be left out, since they are not
considered as a form of “organization”.

Image 1:
Historical overview of the organizational paradigms1

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Red paradigm: impulsive worldview

Around ten
thousand years ago, we made the transition from foraging bands and authority by
the Elders to the powerful chiefdoms era. Societies started to appear counting
more than 1000 persons. This new level of complexity introduced the role of
chief to enforce social order. Research showed enforcement often involved
brutal force leading to a conclusion that these leaders were rather ego-centric
and impulsive. With this worldview, everything is seen through the lens of

A metaphor to
describe this paradigm is the “wolf pack” mentality. The words “fear” and
“loyalty” are the most important, since fear is the main work tool for the
chief to keep loyalty levels high. If the leader shows weakness or greediness
that results in the neglect of his underlings, a new challenger will try to
topple the current leader.

Where can you find
red organisations in the current world environment? Mafia or drug dealing
street gangs. Small enterprises where founder-bosses have the “whatever it
takes” mentality, in order to succeed and get involved in everything. These
organisations are unstable, however they are highly entrepreneurial and thrive
in highly disordered environments. Red organizations provided two
breakthroughs: division of labor and top-down authority.

Amber paradigm: conformist worldview

Around 6000 years
ago, a new worldview arose in Mesopotamia (Tigris-Euphrates river system). It
represented the leap from proto-empires to the age of agriculture, states and
empires, bureaucracies and organized religions. The introduction of social
classes and castes, mythology plays a role with its God-given established rules
of what is right and what is wrong. The impulsivity of the red paradigm is
under control due to internalized rules and self-discipline in service of
common belief.

The most important
words are “guilt” and “shame”. Any person can be replaced, the organization
will continue to operate. The current examples: many armies, religious
institutions, government agencies, public school systems and universities.
Another defining characteristic is hard acceptance of changes and adaptation.

organizations rely on replicable and stable processes. This results in a spread
of vital knowledge, an embedment in the organization. Amber organizations have
invented job descriptions, job titles and reporting lines. The stable
organization chart shows people at all levels with their identified roles, also
a division: thinking at the top and execution at the bottom.

Orange paradigm: achievement worldview

The scientific and
industrial revolutions worldview, it dominates current management thinking. The
applicable metaphor for this paradigm is the “complex clockwork/machine” whose
inner workings can be researched and understood. This illustrates the energy
and motion within the organization, although it leaves a lifeless or soulless
feeling. Smarter, faster or just out achieving will eventually lead to more
success. The ground breaking part of orange is that you can be anyone you want
to be.

Most MBA programs
are based on orange assumptions; even most corporations rely on orange
thinking. Global brands: Nike, Coca-Cola, etc. Wall Street banks or brokers, highly
innovative and efficient machines in the pursuit of maxim profit. Humans are “resources”
for the organization.

This worldview has
immensely changed humanity in the last two centuries (19-20st century),
providing unprecedented levels of prosperity and a higher life expectancy. The
possibility of “What if?” has reduced the oppression of caste systems and
religions, it also replaced the outdated feudal system with democracy and
transparent laws.

Three main
breakthroughs are to be noted: innovation, accountability and meritocracy. Innovation
by creating new departments like R&D, product management, human resources
and marketing that leads to project management. Accountability in the form of
management by objectives, management is supported by objectives such as key
performance indicators (KPI’s), performance appraisals, strategic planning,
etc. Meritocracy means that leadership and positions are based on the talents,
skills and intellectual performance of people. Talent management and leadership
training are orange inventions and job mobility is normal, life employment is
not the norm anymore.



Green paradigm: pluralistic worldview

Green has been
created due to “shadow of Orange”. This mainly contains loss of community,
social inequality, environmental impact and materialistic obsession. The focus
is directed towards the people, insisting that everyone is equally worth and
that we should foster our relationships more closely. The metaphor used for
this colour is “family” or “community”, since green business leaders want their
employees to be happy and everyone should have his place in the organization.
The previous mentioned factors contribute to the company’s success.

The 60’s and 70’s
created a boom for this worldview, e.g. civil rights movement, women’s rights
movement, etc. Although politics and most businesses use the orange paradigm,
green is mostly present in non-profits, community activists and postmodern
academic thinking.

There are 3 key
breakthroughs from the green paradigm: empowerment, values-driven culture and
stakeholder value. Empowerment
focuses on the employees, so hierarchy is not of big importance. The decisions
are pushed down to the lowest level creating the inverted pyramid picture. As a
“green” company, having a values-driven
culture is often the main focus of the CEO. This culture provides guidance
to empowered employees to make the correct decisions without a book full of
corporate rules and policies. The introduction of the stakeholder model,
instead of the well-known shareholder model. The organization’s principal focus
should not be making profit for its investors, but also provide value for other
internal and external stakeholders. Internal stakeholders are employees,
managers and the owners. External stakeholders are the suppliers, society,
shareholders government, creditors and clients.  

Some examples of
green organizations: Southwest airlines, Ben & Jerry’s, IBM, etc. Southwest
airlines scored highest and second highest on multiple customer satisfaction
reports in the United States with their “live the South West way”. South West
core values are employee happiness and that they take pride in their job that
drives their customer satisfaction and loyalty. Ben & Jerry’s is well-known
for their special ice cream flavours and ice cream shops. Although being bought
in 2000 by Unilever, they kept their board of directors and CEO. Ben &
Jerry’s have 3 mission statements: product, economic and social. According to
the company, it is “that all three parts must thrive equally in a manner that
commands deep respect for individuals in and outside the company and support
the communities of which they are part.”

Teal paradigm: evolutionary worldview

The latest form of
organizational paradigms. Laloux still calls it evolutionary in his book, since
it is still in an emerging stage and how it will shape the future of management
is still somewhat unclear. Some scholars like Robert Kegan and Abraham Maslow
have studied the conduct of people making the leap towards teal. They reported
that this worldview can open some profound new possibilities.

Teal focuses more
on the true self of a person, so that we can each individually unfold our
unique potential and talents. We should learn to let go of predetermined thoughts
of what we should be and listen to our inner self to go where life calls us. Being
able to take distance from your ego is an important step in teal management.
The human ego often creates anxiety, fears, ambitions and desires. We are often
influenced by external factors: what will others think, what will we achieve,
etc. Teal focuses on the “inner rightness” as the decision maker, some frequent
questions: Am I being true to myself? Does this decision seem right to me?

Examples of teal
management practises in the current business world:

FAVI: A French brass foundry/automotive
supplier with 500 employees

Morningstar: A Californian tomato
harvesting company with 400-2400 employees

Buurtzorg: A Dutch home care non-profit
with 9000 employees 

The teal paradigm
provides 3 crucial breakthroughs: self-management (power and control throughout
the organization, not tied to specific positions), wholeness (freedom of fully
expressing yourself) and evolutionary purpose (serve the world, instead of only
the bottom line). The previous mentioned breakthroughs will be further
elaborated upon in the next chapter.

1 Hydrant. Holacracy and self-organising teams. Overview of the main
(organizational) paradigms. Retrieved from



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