Reinventing Your Organization

A just, equitable, and fulfilling world requires transformation not only on the individual level but on the level of structures, institutions, and community.

Many businesses and organizations start out with a desire to be more equitable and just, but old habits are hard to break…

Modern Organizations are Fucked Up

As long as human beings have gathered, we’ve designed our groups according to the consciousness and needs of our time and place.

In the 21st century, it’s become clear to many people that the group structures in which we presently live, learn, work, and heal are not fulfilling our needs and are, instead, seriously fucked up. For many others, this is no surprise.

For centuries, the only people who acknowledged principles of wholeness, interconnectedness, and diversity were spiritual mystics and those people the Europeans regarded as witches and savages. But in our current age, even inheritors of the white colonialist tradition know our current systems are broken and seek new, more life-affirming ways to do everything: from raising families, to acknowledging difference, to doing business.

This evolution in how we do things requires wisdom which has been known to indigenous people for millenia but which has been dismissed for centuries by systems designed to perpetuate misogyny and White Supremacy. So how do we call on that wisdom at work, in our businesses and in our schools? And how do we do things in a new way when all we’ve ever known are our existing structures?

Can the fish imagine living in anything but water?

An alternative

In 2019, I began work with a nonprofit that had the lofty goal of actually living its core values rather than just paying them lip service. But as anyone who has ever gone to school, worked for a corporation, or played a part in a nonprofit knows — applying heart-centered values like compassion, transparency, and equity is easier said than done.

Why? Because, even when we commit ourselves to the highest principles, whether we like it or not, every aspect of our organizational lives — from hiring to compensation, decision making to deadlines, workaholism to the constant urgency so many of us feel all the time — reaffirms the values of Patriarchal White Supremacy.

Reinventing Organizations

Fortunately, the nonprofit with which I was working had found a valuable resource for fulfilling its vision, Frederic Laloux’s book, Reinventing Organizations, which lays out both the history of organizational design and its potential future. In Reinventing Organizations, Laloux presents a model for creating and running organizations which emphasize the values of wholeness, self-management, and evolutionary purpose. He calls this model Teal.

Since I first began exploring the Teal philosophy and practices, I’ve come to believe that a better way of doing things is possible for communities and organizations that are willing to take the risks, make the mistakes, and do the work that is necessary.

Teal is not for everyone; it requires courage, trust, and the ability to ditch your ego in favor of a greater good. It also requires the capacity to give up speed in favor of distance, and looking good in favor of genuine strength. When it works, it’s glorious, and when it doesn’t, you tend to your wounds, rally your people, and try again.

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Jane Doe

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