Teal thoughts

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

I used to have this da Vinci quote on my wall at work – it fell-off some time ago (the result of tired Blu-tac and overactive hospital heating systems). I love this idea as it relates to a core concept to which I aspire – specifically, hacking away the unessential, removing the ego, refining the solution – focusing on what is important and moving forward in the most efficient and effective way.

Last night, in conversation at a family celebration, I was explaining Teal and the work relating to our Wellbeing* Teams in Lytham-St Anne’s and soon in Doncaster.

I realised that explaining what we are doing is relatively straightforward – developing self-managing teams of wellbeing* workers who will support the autonomy and independence of likely (to start with at least), older people.

Connecting and working with others, forming bonds and connections within the team, the family and community, linking individuals to facilitate independence and growth, rather than the current model of dependency, stop-start transaction, zero-hours contracts, and, minimum-wage employment.

Explaining why we were doing this was also easy – from a purely human perspective – the concept that people working with others, outside of the classical mess that is our current health and social care structure, seeing people, and particularly those who are older as individuals with abilities, insights and interests, and, engaging collaboratively with others who share a similar love of life and insight into the benefits of togetherness is straightforward.

The tricky part was the how – the direct answer that you might find in the textbook would be, ‘Utilising Teal Principles based on Laloux’s Research’ – translating this into plain English, is more complicated and it is this aspect of the work that needs to be unravelled, for without the modus being apparent, it is difficult to achieve buy-in, even from those who share our values and aspirations.

We are so indoctrinated into the mind-set of hierarchy, traditional organisational structure – orders, command, supply and demand, target and competition – Orange in Laloux’s model, that to think differently is not straightforward, it challenges our perceptions. To see the possibilities within a different way of work, a different way of achieving better than we could have dreamed with less pain and energy expenditure, this is beyond refinement – it is transformation in how we see and interact with the world, if not revolution, evolution.

Within Teal, the principles that drive the philosophy – self-managing teams, evolutionary purpose and whole person can become unwieldy at first, when the bridge across our present to the future has yet to be tested.

‘How can people manage themselves?’ – ‘How do you know if they are working hard enough,’ ‘What if they don’t match up to your expectations or the hopes of others,’ ‘Will not one disengaged person in the team risk toppling the entire structure,’ and so on – there are countless permutations of challenge, iterations of risk and fear that stem from our Orange World experience.

Providing examples of situations in which self-managing teams have survived, thrived and grown, in which our inherent competence and trustworthiness have delivered results or outcomes which exceed those of the Old-World is often not enough. Cracking the model reinforced day after day, in tired hospitals, schools, shops and companies; the codes, uniforms, rules and regulations that constrain rather than facilitate – straight-jacket policies which drive the organisations like a Victorian engine, consuming aspiration.

I think the key to growing and expanding Teal is iteration and time – presenting the ideas to people in different ways, through differing media, reviewing, revising, describing the possibilities and the reality, demonstrating to the disbelieving that the path they have followed is optional – we, people, are endlessly creative, hard-working and resourceful, we are reliable, dependable and enthusiastic, but, only if we are provided the correct environment, one that allows us to be ourselves.

The concepts of evolutionary purpose and whole self are a further unravelling of the Teal model that explain the how, these also need careful working and, delivery that simplifies, not complicates, that navigates the prevailing attitudes of all that we have been told since our earliest days at school.

As Ken Robinson describes in his TED talk – 21st Century schools are still run on a system predicated on the Victorian workhouse; neat rows with the teacher – aka supervisor overseeing learning and structure, the bell ringing to signal the start and finish of whatever compartmentalised aspect of education is next in line.

So too our work, and likely, our relationships and ways in which we engage with one another, much of which is not necessarily consistent with an individual’s preference, ability or aspiration; we are ruled by the clock and the work-schedule – our connection with sunrise and sunset is fractured; somnambulists, the work week drains instead of replenishes us.

Let us therefore not underestimate the enormity of our task, how far we have to travel, and likely for those of us who think we ‘get it’ who think we have found the path. This is a journey that connects with life and growth – it doesn’t end.


* I don’t think there is yet a standard to describe our teams – are they Wellbeing, Well being, Well-being, well being, wellbeing or well-being; I appreciate this is semantics – I also know that the inconsistency infuriates some people (particularly my brother Nigel) – sorry; I am sure we will agree on something soon.

Published by rodkersh1948

Trying to understand the world, one emotion at a time.

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