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This blog is inspired by a conversation while hiking with my colleague Praveen Mantena, where we were reflecting on group interactions and what it takes for a new type of self-managed, yet shared leadership to emerge.  We are both passionate about how the deep development of humans can shift our systems and organizations.

Spiral Dynamics & Organizational Evolution

Spiral Dynamics is a framework that categorizes human development into color-coded systems. Each color represents a different level of complexity and worldview. This framework inspired the book and movement, “Reinventing Organizations” by Frederic Laloux that coined the evolution of organizations in terms of these colors.

In our talk, Praveen and I explored how this model helps leaders identify their current organizational stage and  envision paths for growth. This reflection and understanding can be pivotal and is often eye opening for leaders seeking to understand the broader context of their influence and catalyze meaningful change.

The Reinventing Organizations Map Assessment

Why Orange and Green Matter

During our conversation, we highlighted the critical stages of Orange and Green as defined in Spiral Dynamics and further explored in “Reinventing Organizations.” The Orange stage, known for its mechanistic, achievement-oriented approach, revolutionized business but now struggles with the complexities of modern human needs and global sustainability.

Conversely, the Green stage introduces a more human-centric focus, emphasizing values, ethics, and community. It addresses some of Orange’s shortcomings by promoting inclusivity and environmental awareness but can be hindered by its consensus-driven nature, which sometimes leads to inefficiencies and decision paralysis.

We noted that most organizations still operate from an Orange paradigm with specks of Green throughout.

The Leap to Teal

Our discussion becomes particularly energetic as we contemplate the shift towards Teal—the integration of the best qualities of both Orange and Green yet operating under an expanded level of awareness and consciousness. Teal organizations champion practices such as self-management, wholeness, and an evolutionary purpose. See more about these three practices in my blog, Humanizing the Workplace: The Teal Organizational Shift. These types of organizations move beyond traditional power structures, enhancing team empowerment and interconnectedness.

Discussing the leap towards Teal, Praveen observed, If you watch creatures in a natural habitat, they operate with a lot of autonomy but also a lot of interdependency and awareness of the whole system at large.”

This insight reflects the natural balance that Teal organizations embody—where autonomy is enhanced yet closely integrated with the collective.

One practice we discussed was the introduction of an ’empty chair’ in meetings, symbolizing the broader organizational ecosystem. In the conversation, I emphasized the symbolism, “This empty chair is a great reminder that our organizations are not machines. Our organizations are ecosystems.”

This approach invites leaders to consider the wider impact of their decisions, fostering a holistic view that is central to Teal philosophy. Praveen further suggested, “We could put one for our community, we could put one for the biosphere of the planet.”

Teal and the Inner Shift

A vital element of moving to Teal is the inner transformation required of leaders and team members. We discussed the significance of deep, personal development needed for systemic organizational changes to emerge.  This internal development is essential, as it influences each individual’s ability to contribute and the organization’s overall capacity to innovate, adapt, and thrive.

The transformation within each person mirrors the broader evolution we aim to see in our organizations, making the journey deeply interconnected and impactful.

“The more of us that are doing that deep work as humans and as leaders, then the more we can start to shift these systems.”

The Inner Work of an Executive Team

Why Are We So Passionate About This?

Our passion for this transformational journey stems from an understanding that the challenges we face in our world today are deeply rooted in how we, as individuals and leaders, perceive and interact with our environment. As discussed in our dialogue, observing creatures in their natural habitats inspires us; they operate with a blend of autonomy and interdependence, achieving a harmony and balance that modern organizations can aspire to. This natural coherence and balance are what we seek to replicate in our workplaces.

We are passionate about the evolution to Teal because we believe we must be finding new ways forward if we are to address the pressing issues of our times—sustainability, equity, and wellbeing.

It’s about reshaping the way humanity approaches work, leadership, and community. As I discussed with Praveen, the empty chair in our meetings serves as a reminder that our organizations are part of a larger ecosystem, and this perspective is crucial as we make decisions that impact more than just our bottom line.

We are passionate because we know that by doing our inner work as leaders and catalyzing change within our organizations, we are contributing to a much-needed global transformation.

We invite you to join us in this exploration, to challenge conventional paradigms, and to engage with us as we uncover the pathways to more evolved and responsive organizations.

For a deeper dive and to hear our discussion, watch and share our 30-minute video.

Free Purpose Discovery Workbook

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Author Renelle Darr

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