Teal organizations – How to research cultural transformation?

When researching on digital transformation a common question is “is there an ideal organizational format for the digital world?”.

I think there is not, as long as people do understand how the digital age works and take appropriate action. However, we can observe that the question of how an organization can achieve a higher degree of flexibility in order to adapt faster to new requirements and be more elastic in the digital future.

More important is probably organizational culture and leadership, which is what many organizations struggle most with. Also, culture is connected to organizational format to a great deal. That is where the teal organization paradigm, an idea by Frederic Laloux, comes into play. The concept of teal organizations  is based on the idea that employees act independently, with an abundance mindset, and out of self-motivation. This has implications for both leadership and organizational structure.

For managers this means to apply the concepts of transformational leadership, which to me is rather facilitating than managing, standing behind the employees and enabling them to make their own decisions. See the article “The Future of Management is Teal” for more reference.

In terms of structure teal organization are without a central control, self-organized and self-managed, a concept, which is related to the theory of complex adaptive systems. An example for an organization that embodies this, is Spotify. They have also published a great documentation of their engineering culture here and here.

This post is for myself a reminder to find a lever on how to research transformations of organizational culture, which is an important challenge, in particular for larger corporations that consist of many different independent units. I am looking into different tools at the moment, that help with cultural transformations in particular but haven’t found the right idea yet. Any helpful thoughts from your side would be highly welcome.

Article image by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

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