Book Notes #43: Reinventing Organizations by Frederic Laloux

Reinventing Organizations describes in practical detail how organizations large and small can operate in this new paradigm.

Title: Reinventing Organizations: A Guide to Creating Organizations Inspired by the Next Stage of Human Consciousness
Author: Frederic Laloux
Year: 2014
Pages: 360

Frederic Laloux’s Reinventing Organizations is considered by many to be the most influential management book of the last decade.

There have been thousands of organizations around the world inspired by it to adopt a whole new set of management principles and practices.

A deeply caring and generous community of readers propels Reinventing Organizations as a word-of-mouth phenomenon.

As a result, I gave this book a rating of 8.0/10.

For me, a book with a note 10 is one I consider reading again every year. Among the books I rank with 10, for example, is Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Overview of Reinventing Organizations

Think about how far we have come in the past 10,000 years. Today, humans live in booming, crowded cities organized into nation-states instead of scattered hunter-gatherer groups.

Organizational transformations were also similar. As a matter of fact, psychologists have identified specific stages, organized by color, that describes how this happens.

Organizational management seems increasingly outdated.

Many employees feel disengaged with their companies, according to survey after survey.

Teachers, doctors, and nurses are leaving their professions in record numbers due to disillusionment with the way schools and hospitals are run.

While government agencies and non-profits serve noble purposes, working for them often feels soulless and lifeless.

These organizations suffer from power struggles at the top and powerlessness at the bottom, from infighting and bureaucracy, from endless meetings, and from a seemingly never-ending series of changes and cost-cutting initiatives.

There is a deep desire within us for soulful workplaces, authenticity, community, passion, and meaning.

In the opinion of many progressive scholars, the solution lies in more enlightened management.

However, reality shows that this is not enough.

Most of the time, the system beats the individual-when managers or leaders undergo an inner transformation, they leave their organizations because they no longer feel able to put up with a place that is inhospitable to their deepest longings. 

In addition to enlightened leaders, we need enlightened organizational structures and practices. 

But is there even such a thing? 

Can we conceive of enlightened organizations? 

Reinventing Organizations has 3 main parts:

Reinventing Organizations – Part 1: It takes a sweeping evolutionary and historical view. It explains how every time humanity has shifted to a new stage of consciousness, it has also invented a radically more productive organizational model. Could we be facing another critical juncture today? Could we be about to make such a leap again?

Reinventing Organizations – Part 2: It serves as a practical handbook. Using stories from real-life case examples (businesses and non-profits, schools and hospitals), this section describes in detail how this new, soulful way to run an organization works. How are these organizations structured, and how do they operate on a day-to-day basis?

Reinventing Organizations – Part 3: It examines the conditions for these new organizations to thrive. What is needed to start an organization on this new model? Is it possible to transform existing organizations? What results can you expect at the end of the day?

Reinventing Organizations shows that as humanity has evolved in consciousness over the centuries, it has invented entirely new ways to structure and run organizations, each time bringing extraordinary breakthroughs in collaboration. 

People at the bottom of traditional pyramid structures tend to feel powerless, resigned, and resentful, while those at the top are plagued by stress, politics, and mistrust. 

In Reinventing Organizations, by replacing the pyramid with self-managing teams, Teal Organizations make everyone more powerful. An organization’s self-managing teams cover all vital roles, similar to mini-organizations. 

My Book Highlights & Quotes

“… The ultimate goal in life is not to be successful or loved, but to become the truest expression of ourselves, to live into authentic selfhood, to honor our birthright gifts and callings, and be of service to humanity and our world. In Teal, life is seen as a journey of personal and collective unfolding toward our true nature…”

“… Because there is no hierarchy of bosses over subordinates, space becomes available for other natural and spontaneous hierarchies to spring up—fluid hierarchies of recognition, influence, and skill (sometimes referred to as “actualization hierarchies” in place of traditional “dominator hierarchies”)…”

“… According to the research, the trigger for vertical growth always comes in the form of a major life challenge that cannot be resolved from the current worldview…”

“… The founders of Teal Organizations use a different metaphor for the workplaces they aspire to create. With surprising frequency, they talk about their organization as a living organism or living system…”

“… The most exciting breakthroughs of the twenty-first century will not occur because of technology, but because of an expanding concept of what it means to be human…”

“… We have reached a stage where we often pursue growth for growth’s sake, a condition that in medical terminology would simply be called cancer…”

“… The most exciting breakthroughs of the twenty-first century will not occur because of technology, but because of an expanding concept of what it means to be human…”

“… An organization cannot evolve beyond its leadership’s stage of development…”

“… You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete…”

“… Extraordinary things begin to happen when we dare to bring all of who we are to work…”

“… Profit is like the air we breathe. We need air to live, but we don’t live to breathe…”

“… As human beings, we are not problems waiting to be solved, but potential waiting to unfold…”

“… Consensus comes with another flaw. It dilutes responsibility…”

Reinventing Organizations describes how organizations large and small can operate in this new paradigm in practical detail. This work offers insights, examples, and inspiring stories for leaders, founders, coaches, and consultants.

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