reinventing organizations

I have read plenty of management books (perhaps too many) and am acquainted with most of the (theoretical) models.  Recently I didn’t read a lot however. Shortlisted was a book I came across  a few years ago “Reinventing Organizations” by Frederic Laloux. I didn’t have the time to read this turf, but now there is an illustrated version which is a good three hour read.


This is a summary.

The four dominant world models of the past are :

RED IMPULSIVE : The headman creates “trust” by ruling with fear. Archetypical for this model are the maffia or streetgangs. Power was organized in a vertical way.

AMBER CONFORMIST : Both the army and the catholic church stand as a model here.  New were : repetitive processes and a stabile organogram.

ORGANGE RESULT DRIVEN : Triggered by the industrial revolution. Organizations are like machines. Innovation, responsibility and meritocracy (you are rewarded according to your results) are core to this system.

GREEN PLURALISTIC : Organizations are like families. Individuals are empowered and work in an environment that is value driven.

Today a new world model is emerging : CYANOGEN or the organization as a living organism. The world is a place for individual and collective expansion.


The three main changes are :

SELFMANAGING : Cyanogen organizations have discovered the key to upgrade the current structures from hierarchically, bureaucratic pyramids to powerful, fluent systems of spread responsibilities and collective intelligence.

WHOLENESS : Organizations have traditionally been places who encourage people to come to work with a limited “professional” self. Cyanogen organizations have developed a coherent system of practices that invite us to drop the mask, embrace our inner self and bring who we really are to the office.

EVOLUTIONARY GOAL : Cyanogen organizations are considered systems with an own life and sense of direction. Instead of trying to predict the future and to control it, members of the organization are invited to listen to and to understand the development the organization is heading naturally.

The three changes enforces one another.

Now how to get there ?

Crucial condition is that senior management (the CEO, “the creator”, …) have to look at the world from cyanogen glasses. The “owners” (shareholders, board, …) also have to embrace this new point of view.

And finally there are two ways of kicking this of : start a totally new organization with multiple roles instead of job descriptions, setting of a values frame, … or transform from the current model (try it out in one unit, start a new separate organization and let it grow, experiment in the entire organization, deploy one new method in the entire organization).

Frederic Laloux considers the new model to be a movement and delivers further advice via this website.

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