The Organizational Evolution: Self-Managing Teams

  • 2 mins read

In my previous post, I mentioned that progressive leaders are reinventing the way they organize work with the Evolutionary-Teal Paradigm, which encourages people to be:

  1. Self-managed
  2. Driven by a culture of shared power, responsibility, wholeness and higher purpose

This is not especially new; a few businesses have successfully used these principles for some time. But self-managed teams are a revolutionary change for most organizations.

Teal organizations have discovered that effective operation requires a system based on peer relationships, without hierarchy or consensus. Why is this so important?

Achievement-Orange organizations traditionally face a big problem: division of power. When people are classified as either powerful or powerless, competitive wars of ego, ambition, politics, mistrust, fear and greed can thrive. And that’s the good news, because at the bottom of the hierarchy, workers feel powerless and opt for resignation and resentment.

This unequal distribution of power accounts for the widespread lack of engagement reported by many employee surveys. In fact, only a third of today’s employees are engaged; the rest are either actively disengaged or feel unsupported.

But can we really let the inmates run the asylum, as cynics would say? Frederic Laloux in Reinventing Organizations: A Guide to Creating Organizations Inspired by the Next Stage of Human Consciousness isn’t suggesting mere consensus or empowerment. In Pluralistic-Green organizations, decisions are pushed down the pyramid so everyone has a say, but the pyramid exists and managers still run the show.

In Evolutionary-Teal organizations, the pyramid is banished altogether. Small self-organizing teams make decisions and take responsibility for results. They answer to themselves. If something doesn’t work, they revise the strategy, budget and targets. They monitor their own performance and make adjustments, as necessary. They hold meetings on an ad hoc basis.

Organizing People Successfully

Is it even possible to run a 7,000-person business using self-management principles?

Apparently soand quite successfully in for-profits and nonprofits, large and small companies, and service and manufacturing businesses.

Here are a few examples of organizations using self-managing principles:

I highly recommend you visit these sites and learn about self-managing teams. Very interesting! What do you think about the idea? Possible? Impossible where you work?

I’d love to hear from you; you can contact me here and on LinkedIn.

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