Intro to TEAL

Intro to TEAL Concepts

What is Teal?

Laloux’s Teal concept, outlined in his book “Reinventing Organizations“, presents a groundbreaking & radical organizational paradigm. This paradigm emphasizes self-management, wholeness, and evolutionary purpose. (See Three Pillars below)

Teal organizations operate on principles vastly different from traditional hierarchical models. They promote a culture where employees are empowered to make decisions autonomously, replacing rigid top-down structures with self-organizing teams. Embracing individual purpose and personal growth, Teal encourages authentic and holistic expressions of self at work, fostering a sense of belonging and fulfillment. Moreover, these organizations focus on an evolutionary purpose that goes beyond profit, aiming to serve the greater good and adapt continuously to changing circumstances, enabling them to be agile and resilient in an ever-evolving world. Laloux’s Teal offers a transformative approach to organizational dynamics, fostering innovation, collaboration, and adaptability.

The Three Pillars of Teal Organizations

Self-Management

Holism

Evolutionary Purpose

  • In Teal organizations, authority, and decision-making are distributed among employees rather than being concentrated at the top.
  • Rather than rigid job descriptions, individuals in
  •  Teal organizations are encouraged to take on roles based on their skills, interests, and the needs of the organization at any given time
  • Open and transparent communication is crucial
  • Teal organizations value individuals holistically, including their personal experiences, passions, and aspirations along with their professional skills and contributions.
  • Teal organizations prioritize teams as cohesive units over just a group of individuals with separate roles and responsibilities.
  • Teal organizations are seen as living systems with interconnectivity and emergence.
  • The evolutionary purpose of a Teal organization is rooted in a sense of meaning and significance that transcends individual interests or financial goals
  • Evolutionary purpose recognizes the need for organizations to adapt to changing circumstances and opportunities in their external environment.
  • Evolutionary purpose prioritizes sustainable growth and long-term impact over short-term profit goals.

Different Management Approaches

Teal organizations represent evolutionary companies with an efficient organizational model that focuses away from traditional management elements like hierarchies, thoroughly planned strategies, and quarterly goals and instead recognizes individual & team contributions are dynamic and the world is evolving quickly, so rigid plans are often outdated before they begin and can create poor incentives.

Laloux defines a “teal” organization as one where the management is based on worker autonomy and peer relationships, a living organism, where power is shared and decentralized into autonomous teams. He contrasts this to:

  • Red organizations – are analogized to a wolf pack, where power is highly concentrated in one or a few persons.

  • Amber organizations – which are similar to armies. They are featured by a strict hierarchy with highly formal roles and straight reporting lines.

  • Orange Organizations – would be metaphorized to machines. They aim to beat the competition and achieve profit and growth through innovation. This is how most organizations operate currently.

  • Green organizations – resemble families. Although still operating in a hierarchy, they focus on empowerment and motivate people through a shared purpose and value-driven culture that are beyond profit.

 

For a deeper explanation on each of the levels, check out this video


Examples of Teal Organizations

Buurtzorg

FAVI

Morning Star

Patagonia

Buurtzorg is a Netherlands-based healthcare organization, which got rid of traditional management strategies. It comprises self-managed teams of 10-15 nurses serving 50 people in a neighborhood. These nurses are in charge of administration, vacation, patient intake, and other important functions. There is no single boss. The nurses on the team set priorities, make decisions, and evaluate progress. To reach a solution means no one has an objection. Decision-making is a collective process.

There is no middle management either – however, there are middle coaches, who have been selected for their coaching ability. Staff functions are performed by a very small number of people. 30 people in the headquarters support 7000 nurses. Buurtzorg’s purpose is more than just to give shots and change bandages. It’s about helping elderly people to live a full life.

FAVI is a brass foundry in France. This company exists on three assumptions:

  • People are considered to be good.
  • There is no performance without happiness.
  • Value is created on the shop floor.

In FAVI, there is a wonderful community-building practice: everybody is trained in frontline skills. This means that administrative workers and engineers have been trained to operate at least one machine. So when time is limited, white-collar workers come down to the first floor to operate a machine for a couple of hours.

Morning Star is a US tomato-processing company. 

The company is entirely self-managing. There are no managers or fixed power hierarchies. What matters is reputational capital, based on the value you add, you can earn your status. Colleagues write contracts with each other – a so-called “Colleague Letter of Understanding,” a short document that specifies commitments an employee has made with other employees affected by their work.

There are 23 self-managed teams, no management positions, no HR department, and no purchasing department. Employees can make all business decisions, including buying expensive equipment with company funds, provided they have sought advice from colleagues who will be affected or have expertise.

Patagonia is a designer of outdoor clothing and gear for silent sports (like skiing, climbing, and snowboarding.) The company is very environmentally friendly and has a values-driven culture, trying to make a positive impact on the natural environment.

In the summer of 1994, the company started to replace all conventionally grown cotton with organic one. It was a risk because the raw material cost three times more. Yet, their program turned out financially beneficial and inspired others to do the same.

Besides its evolutionary purpose, Patagonia incorporates other Teal practices. For example, hiring is performed by peers and social and environmental initiatives can be started anywhere in the organization.

 


Teal Related Work HFW is Involved in

  • Check out Our Mission to see how we help you in the journey towards TEAL
  • Travis’ Book, Lead Together is a collection of 60+ companies and 100+ practices on how organizations of 20-200 can become more teal. 
  • https://www.tealaroundtheworld.com/ is a conference we support. Travis was a core organizer for the 2022 & 2023 TATW Events
  • The Teal Team – This is a collection of ~8 people, mostly coaches and consultants, mostly ex-Great Place to Work people, who promote Teal. Travis is a member.

Additional Resources