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  • Writer's pictureMegan Storey

What colour organisation are you?

It's the start of 2021, where we look at our resolutions, which are often very personal. This year, we're encouraging you to think about your workplace resolutions. And to figure out what sort of goals you want, it's best to understand where you're at, so: What sort of organisation are you in?

Frederic Laloux in his book, Reinventing Organisations, categorises organisations into colours:

RED: Organisations that have a constant exercise of power by their chief, to keep troops in line. Fear is the glue of the organisation. They are highly reactive, with a short-term focus, and thrive in chaotic environments. Examples of red organisations are the mafia, street gangs and tribal militias.

AMBER: Organisations that have highly formal roles within a hierarchical pyramid. Top-down command and control (what and how). Stability is valued above all through rigorous processes. Future is repetition of the past. Example of amber organisations are the catholic church, military, most government agencies and public school systems.

ORANGE: Organisations that have a goal to beat the competition, achieve profit and growth. Innovation is the key to staying ahead. Management by objectives (command and control on what; freedom on the how). Examples of orange organisations include multinational companies and charter schools.

GREEN: Organisations within the classic pyramid structure that have a focus on culture and empowerment to achieve extraordinary employee motivation. Examples of green organisations a culture-driven organisations like Southwest airlines, Ben and Jerry's, etc.

TEAL: Organisations that place trust over ego, and relinquish power. Often do not have a hierarchical structure, but are self-managing, and strive for wholeness, community and relationships. Organisations that have a clear and noble purpose, and that are driven by purpose, more than profitability or market-share. Examples of teal organisations include Buurtzorg, Morning Star, Patagonia and Sun Hydrolics.

Now where do you think your organisation is, and where do you want it to be? In a nutshell (although nothing is ever quite this simple), we help organisations step through these colours, until they reach a level that best suits their purpose and goals. And we might add, that one colour isn't necessarily better than another - they are simply different (just like an adolescent isn't better than a toddler). But in our experience, certainly the higher the level towards teal, the more benefits we see in the majority of organisations.

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