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Teal Is Today's Model. What Color Is Your Organization?

by Judy Ryan

For years (more than 30), I have been building my human system, knowing I was out ahead of a time when it would be needed, and now I know that time has arrived. It was validated when a colleague indicated my work is consistent with an evolutionary Teal organizational model. This article is designed to shed light on this topic.

Former organizational models.

Red appeared 10,000 years ago in the form of chiefdoms. Instances today include the mafia, street gangs and tribal militias. Example: On a whim, a boss increases or reduces pay.

Amber accompanied the settlement of people. Authority became linked to formal roles with strict chains of command in organizations such as the Catholic Church, the military and most government agencies. Example: Salaries are fixed and determined by a person’s level in the hierarchy (or their education).

Orange came next, characterized by a centralized, hierarchical structure with assigned positions and job descriptions, as is often seen in multinational companies. Example: a system that stresses individual incentives.

Green came about with higher levels of education and emphasizes empowerment, bottom-up processes and building consensus. These organizations are still hierarchical because leaders have sole discretion to delegate selectively, such as in Southwest Airlines and Ben & Jerry’s.
Example: team bonuses.

Characteristics of a Teal organizational model

1. Shared power and fully distributed leadership development.
The concept of “leadership” is different in Teal. While earlier stages relied on a hierarchical power structure, Teal rejects this. Self-organizing and self-managing systems are introduced by a strong leader who, sensing potential, initiates the sharing of power: Stories of Morning Star and Buurtzorg are good examples; their leaders imagined a different kind of organization in which anyone can and should lead — subject to an advice process — based on opportunity, circumstance and/or imagination.

2. Reflects an evolution of consciousness. There is a need for complex and refined ways of dealing with the world, including a reduced need to control and encouragement of a shift from an external to an internal locus of authority within each person. An example of this is agile software development, which requires people to dis-identify with previous models in order to move from linear, algorithmic functioning to heuristic and highly collaborative teamwork.

3. More accurately informed by data and intuition both. Because of today’s global and technological communications, we can better understand what’s needed in any situation, often concluding that data combined with intuition works best when we are facing complex, ambiguous, paradoxical, non-linear and new realities. Intuition allows us to recognize patterns, increasing speed of resolution without the need to overanalyze.

4. Purpose-driven. Each person seeks and finds their life’s calling and then commits to it in service and with authenticity. Individual pleasure and ego validation are replaced by the joy that comes from a mission to serve the greater good and make the world a better place. Compassion, patience, and focus on strengths replace shame, guilt and fear.

5. Freedom and responsibility. Power is celebrated and guided through mentoring and training, combined with high freedom and responsibility. Control models are dismantled while increased expectations and initiative are sought.

6. Wholeness. Gone are the days when we keep our lives compartmentalized. In Teal, we bring our mind; body; spirit; and intellectual, emotional and social uniqueness to the table, at work and in the community. This is often uncomfortable and disorientating because it is so far outside of the past status quo. In this model, people matter more than profit and beliefs. In Teal, we transcend judgment and expand into our greatest human potential.

If you’re ready to evolve, I have a proven system I created for you.

Judy Ryan (, human systems specialist, is owner of LifeWork Systems. Join her in her mission to create a world in which all people love their lives. She can also be reached at 314-239-4727.

Submitted 5 years 267 days ago
Categories: categoryThe Extraordinary Workplace
Views: 3393