Neo bookshelf

Five reasons to read…. Frederic Laloux

This is absolutely a case of not judging a book by its cover. It’s truly terrible and a real barrier, but it’s worth pushing through.

Throughout history we have periodically, radically changed the way we organise ourselves and there is sufficient reason to believe that we may be on the cusp of another such radical shift. This shift is being driven by a desire to organise ourselves in a way that’s more reflective of our recent evolutionary development.

We are looking for ways to more closely align the people we really are with the people we actually present and we could potentially design organisations that actively encourage that.

In Reinventing Organisations, Laloux has found 12 organisations across the world, working in sectors as diverse as tomato processing, community nursing and making gearbox forks and ranging in size from 40,000 employees to 90 employees & 20 dogs. These 12 organisations were, until Laloux began researching, completely unaware of each others’ existence, yet they are all designing their organisations in a radical way to better serve their communities, their clients and themselves.

Reinventing Organisations book cover

– we prefer and desire autocracy, hierarchy no longer serves us and we are more effective when we create and design things together, set up peer structures and hold responsibility equally.The astonishing thing is that when looking at how these pioneering organisations are re-organising themselves, common practices and approaches can be found across these 12 seemingly unrelated businesses. The three commonly held principals informing this new thinking are:

Wholeness – we work better when we can be our true selves and when we can have honest human connections with those around us. Our work becomes more meaningful, we are happier and more productive.

Evolutionary purpose – this is the one that has taken me a bit of time to get my head around. It’s the idea that our individual purpose must clearly connect to the shared purpose of the organisation and that the organisational purpose is continually evolving and needs to be carefully listened to. It is this ever-changing organisational purpose that shapes the direction of the business NOT strategic planning, forecasts or budgets.

Things that really made sense for me include:

1) We need to keep coming back to the shift from scarcity to abundance and truly trusting in that, even in times of crisis and uncertainty.

2) Self-management sounds like removing process and creating a free for all, but quite the opposite, it actually requires robust processes. They are just processes that make sense to everyone as opposed to processes that exist to prop up a hierarchy and serve the few at the top.

3) Planning, forecasting, budgeting make people feel more certain and as human beings, and especially as leaders of businesses, we crave certainty. But we are trying foolishly to anticipate and control the inevitably uncertain. We need to trust in our people and our selves and ensure we are open enough to read the signs and sense where the business needs to go and what it needs to do.

4) Ego is the enemy. The idea that we are only serving ourselves at any time or at any level within an organisation is what’s holding us back. We need to be constantly asking: who am I serving? Am I serving them well? Who is this organisation serving? Are we serving them well? This is the shift: we are in service of each other.

5) Purpose is the key to all of this. When we understand our individual purpose we can be clear about the organisations we choose to work for and consciously bring that purpose to bear as part of the shared, collective purpose. We need to learn the tools to listen to that purpose and really hear it and then, when we know it, we need to bring all our attention and focus to it. It is more useful then any planning and forecasting – if we put purpose first, the profit (or whatever else we require) will follow.

Want to know more?

Try Lee Bryant’s post ‘Frederic Laloux: ‘there is something in the air’ or watch Laloux at the RSA.