I recently encountered TEAL and the philosophy of reinventing the organizations. For you guys that haven’t heard about it yet here is a good intro video explaining it shortly.I haven’t read the book Reinventing organizations by Frederic Laloux so my knowledge so far is built on the wiki site and one work shop. My first impression and feeling of the work shop were that okay this sounds familiar with words like self-management, wholeness and deeper purpose. I totally agree that we need these kinds of qualities in our working environment inside organizations. I work as service manager at HiQ Finland and have almost 20 years of experience in IT business. I have seen old fashion conservative insurance and finance organizations to lean IT consultant companies. When I first came to HiQ 5 years ago I came to a new built team whose focus was to create Sharepoint solutions. The number of members in that team where 7 and it worked freely inside HiQ and all decisions were made within and together in the team. We were a close group that sat in the same room and many of the members was younger than I with fresh open-minded attitude. That was the closest I got to TEAL in practice so far.
Our society and money driven business
As told in the book and wiki site that the evolution on human consciousness has come to a point that the future of business organizations lies in working as an organism without hierarchal structure and management overheads. The question is that can a company that has been listed on the stock market for decades become a more purpose driven organism with deeper evolutionary meaning. Or is it so that these TEAL companies must be built up from the ground to have a successful journey and future. I’m curious to what kind of company structure will be the suitable option because I have hard time to imagine a TEAL minded company can live in the quartal profit lane side by side with other companies on Helsinki Stock Exchange will be best in interest with shareholders demanding good numbers. I heard that some organizations have created TEAL teams inside company’s classic structure to get started with something and this might be a good option to get experience for further development of TEAL ideology. As I see it most of organizations that have the willing to move towards more soulful and self-managed organization must go through hybrid phase. Our business world is and has never been black and white when it comes to organizations so lots of organizations like government most likely won’t even think about going TEAL and many of other ones will be in an orange/green or green/teal state to best suits their needs. One interesting challenge is our money driven attitude in todays society and how can we change that mindset in self- managed teams where money making is not the main objective, but more like an indirect outcome of an organism that is working with a deeper meaning and more long-term goals. One option can be to strive away from stock market and to find investors with the same mindset and ideology of building more sustainable working environment, services and products for customers, employees and most of all our planet. So how is this affecting us people? I would gladly see our whole society taking the move towards TEAL so that we in the future will raise up more soulful, self-managed and trustful children and youngsters that don’t have to aim for the education that will bring them most money. This might sound optimistic, but in a scenario where self- managed business culture without manager layers there is a good chance that people stays in their current positions and not trying to be managers because of better bonuses and salaries.
A common team structure in lots of IT companies is divided based on technology, customers business area or solution platforms. Typical example of team structure might look like this:
· Java developers
· .Net developers
· SQL and other backend experts
· Selling and management
So how can we move from tech teams to self-managed ones? Buurtzorg (pensioner health care in Holland) is a groundbreaking company in the world of TEAL and uses parallel self-managed teams to service pensioners in their specific area. In IT seems more suitable to create self-managed teams out of nested circles (http://reinventingorganizationswiki.com/Organizational_Structure). With that in mind a typical team could look like this:
Team 1 (Project and/or maintenance)
· Front developer/s (both java, .net and UI tech)
· Backend developer/s (databases and Service interfaces)
· Admin and end user support responsible/s
· Customer responsible
Team 2 (Project and/or maintenance)
· Same structure as team1
Team 3 (HR and other supporting functions)
· Team coaches
· Marketing and HR responsible/s
· Finance responsible/s
The idea is to look beyond the technical side of dividing us in groups. If you divide as a engineer look at it the group will not be self-managed and whole in the complete working process. The idea of having different business areas in the same team to raise the understanding level of what is making a successful service working for all in the team. In tech team’s members only see issues from the tech side and in a selling team from the business side.
Deeper purpose and trust
I believe that trust is the most important feature in self-managed teams. It is very important trying to achieve a high level of trust within the company. If you have seen the YouTube video with Simon Sinek talking about millennials then it is not hard to see that trust is nothing we can’t take for granted. Trust must be earned, sometimes the hard way and lot of patience is needed. I do agree with Simon that organizations in the future have big responsibility to take care of newcomers to become reliable members of the company and to be the one to count on when needed. It will not be easy task to educate people to trust others in our device addicting world when lots of youngsters have better relationship to a device than a human being. I really do believe that we need to trust each other more in the future and decentralized organizations is a very good way of moving to right direction. I also truly think that self-managed teams will be the best place for our millennials to grow up in with story telling meetings, device free meeting rooms, responsible tasks and a coach guiding you through the business jungle.
What’s in it for us?
I must admit that I am just I the beginning of my TEAL journey and these thoughts probably is quite common. I am excited about this concept and philosophy and I think I will get even more when I get deeper insight and experience. Being realistic though I do realize there is lot of work to be done before we will get a broader break through of TEAL in our society. We have to start somewhere, and small companies is the best place to get started and when we see enough organizations succeed then rest will follow. As I mentioned this is not for all organizations, but I hope it will have a huge place in our business world and people’s life.