Have you ever been bummed and stressed about work, for a day? A week? A month? A year?Did you ever resent being “managed”? Did you ever feel afraid that if people at work really knew who you are, they’d probably fire you? Did you ever feel like your job was meaningless? That, in the larger scheme of things, the whole company’s mission was trivial? Was your self talk something like, well that’s just how it is in business?

That's how I saw it. And you know, I was right. Up until now!  

Turns out, there’s a quiet “Teal Revolution” going on. It’s made up of people like you, me and billionaire Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos. The next evolutionary leap of business beginning. Frederic Laloux’s laid it out in his book, Reinventing Organizations...A Guide to Creating Organizations Inspired by the Next Stage of Human Consciousness. The color teal refers to this level of consciousness, as described by Integral theory and its cousin, spiral dynamics. (NOTE: The Spiral Dynamics Synergy Yellow level is EQUAL to the Integral Teal level. Turquoise follows one level up in both systems.) 

Sometimes when I’m reading about the new workplace practices in Reinventing Organizations, I pinch myself and wonder: Is this really happening? It feels just too good to be true!

Maybe because I have been challenged all of my adult working life when it comes to feeling good about my contributions, the feeling of the teamwork, and how I fit in with the company culture and purpose. Apart from my precious years as a stay at home mom, I never really hit my fulfillment stride in my jobs, which was one reason I started my own company. Not that running Peaceabl is easier than doing my old jobs, as you entrepreneurs probably well know, but it is more fulfilling, affirming and peaceful in many ways. More soulful. And ​it opens the path to way more profit. 

And that is the bright teal future that Laloux is predicting for those of us in the Teal Revolution, as we transform the way we collaborate with each other and with other organizations. His work pulls from a field called “developmental theory” and Integral theory, and maintains that organizations are moving forward along an evolutionary spectrum, toward self-management, wholeness, and a deeper sense of purpose.

Did you catch that? We are moving toward self-management, wholeness and a deeper sense of purpose!

  • Self-management means that everyone is the boss, and no one is the boss of anyone else, in a distributed power scene vs. a power-over hierarchy.
  • Wholeness means you get to show up at work as your real self and it is not only safe to do so, but welcome and expected.  We can retire our “professional” masks.
  • Evolutionary purpose means that teal organizations base their strategies on what they sense the world is asking from them. They are flexible and agile and are focused on making meaningful impact in their communities and care about employee personal purpose fulfillment.

This is to replace what many of us struggle with. As Laloux puts it: 

“Many people sense that the way organizations are run today has been stretched to its limits. In survey after survey, business people make it clear that in their view, companies are places of dread and drudgery, not passion or purpose. Organizational disillusionment afflicts government agencies, nonprofits, schools, and hospitals just as much. Further, it applies not just to the powerless at the bottom of the hierarchy. Behind a facade of success, many top leaders are tired of the power games and infighting; despite their desperately overloaded schedules, they feel a vague sense of emptiness. All of us yearn for better ways to work together — for more soulful workplaces where our talents are nurtured and our deepest aspirations are honored.”

Organizational disillusionment might be a sign that we are outgrowing the current model of organization and getting ready for the next. Laloux has studied 12 companies who have developed this “teal” level of consciousness and compared their practices.

It turns out the 12 companies came to their structure and practices independently and for the most part didn’t know about each other, yet there is so much similarity that it seems that a coherent new organizational model is emerging.

Having a clear, regularly used conflict resolution practice that everyone is trained in is core to being Teal! Not surprisingly, that’s a big part of my excitement about this movement.

I had an opportunity this week to interview Manfred Friedrich, an Organizational Development consultant and Executive Coach for Palaestra. He works closely with top leaders of large international organizations and has been amazed at how many cannot deliver or receive feedback in a clear, honest, safe way. Nor can they really listen to anyone without becoming reactive.

If you sometimes ride in this same stressful boat, please take note! These important, basic communication skills are all learnable in a simple 4 step process that cleans up your relationships as you go! Too good to be true? Not at all - it’s what I love to do!

If you are having a conflict at home or at work, I’d like to invite you to make a teal move and step right up this week for a Free Breakthrough Conversation.

We’ll take a look at what you need and want to happen in your relationship, where you are experiencing obstacles and explore new possibilities for you.

As always, I invite you to share your thoughts and questions about this topic or anything else about conflict, communication and relationships.

Peace and hope for a world blooming Teal,


Check out this summary article by Laloux: The Future of Management Is Teal.

About the Author Catherine

Catherine Cooley is a mediator and a communication coach. She has worked in environments of extreme conflict including prisons, the court system and local communities teaching what she calls "Breakthrough Conversations." She specializes in helping people foster clear, respectful, warm, cooperative relationships at home and in the workplace.

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