Beyond Teal is looking at running a business with a higher level of consciousness. In some respects it follows the work of Ken Wilbur and Clare Graves. Many believe this is the next step after the work that Abraham Maslow did on hierarchy of needs. About a year ago Fed Laloux took all of the color coding ideas from Graves and adopted it to create Beyond Teal.
Many think this is the next generation of advanced thinking in organizational structure. One such company who is considering and is in the process of using many of the principles in Beyond Teal is Zappos.
Bruce is going to help us understand what Beyond Teal is all about and how you can take some of the ideas he’s talking about and implementing them in your business, helping you create a business that is ultimately more sustainable.
I’m sure that when you listen to this podcast you’ll get some great take home value.
Narrator: Welcome to The Sustainable Business Radio Show podcast where you’ll learn not only how to create a sustainable business but you’ll also learn the secrets of creating extraordinary value within your business and your life. In the Sustainable Business, we focus on what it’s going to take for you to take your successful business and make it economically and personally successful.
Your host, Josh Patrick, is going to help us through finding great thought leaders as well as providing insights he’s learned through his 40 years of owning, running, planning and thinking about what it takes to make a successful business sustainable.
Josh: Hi. Today, we have a great guest. His name is Bruce Peters. Bruce and I have been talking on and off for several years now. He is probably one of the most knowledgeable people in the country on what’s called peer-to-peer groups, sometimes they’re known as mastermind groups. I like the peer-to-peer moniker better because it really talks about people talking to equals in a group and sharing their knowledge and helping each other get better. That’s not what we’re going to talk with Bruce about today.
Today, we’re going to talk with Bruce about his new project which is called Beyond Teal. I’m going to bring Bruce in. We can start talking about it and he can explain why Beyond Teal is the logical next step after a peer group. So, let’s bring Bruce in.
Hey, Bruce. How are you today?
Bruce: I’m terrific, Josh. I’m glad to be here with you.
Josh: I am really thrilled to have you. Let’s start with this. What is Beyond Teal?
Bruce: Beyond Teal is, you know, we kind of have to separate it out into kind of two—in fact, I wrote a blogpost on this not too long ago, two game-changing words. So, the concept of teal comes from the field of psychology where a fellow by the name of Clare Graves, back in the late ‘40s, looked at varying levels of consciousness or how people approach life and the universe from the field of psychology. And their kind of world view of things, I guess, would be a better way of saying it. And with a very base level being red and then moving kind of up the hierarchical ladder, a little bit like Maslow’s hierarchy, to this higher level of consciousness which would be a level of a blue or a green.
And I’ve been working around in this space for an awful long time, around concepts called self-led and self-managed teams and organizations. There’s a lot of buzz words floating around in this field about engagement, empowerment and all those kinds of things which I would be happy to chat about. I kind of have a distaste for the language of some of those things.
But, at the end of the day, a fellow by the name of Fred Laloux, about a year ago took all of the color coding ideas from Graves. And you mentioned, Josh, before we got on the air, a lot of people had taken Graves’ work and brought it over into the organizational dynamics space. Spiral dynamics was one version of that. Integrative organizations was another one.
Josh: Yeah, that’s Ken Wilber stuff, right?
Bruce: Exactly, Ken Wilber stuff.
And so, those are all predecessors to—and maybe the building blocks along the way to kind of what the concept of teal is all about. So about a year ago, and I think the book may be two years old now, but Fred Laloux wrote a book called Reinventing Organizations. And what Laloux did, and he was a research guy from one of the big think tanks, and he had this idea that actually there were certain organizations that were operating at what he would describe as a higher evolutionary level but a higher level of consciousness. And who are they? What do they do? And How do they do that? And so, the book Reinventing Organizations was the result of his research around companies that he felt that were operating at this higher level. And he labeled it the color teal as kind of beyond the sustainable and environmental and feel good kind of things of blue or green but operating at this very, very, very, very high level.
Josh: Bruce, I just want to interrupt you for a second. What is blue and green? So, our listeners have a sense of what we’re talking about.
Bruce: So, in Graves’ level of consciousness, so at a red level would be a very, very fundamental or elementary level, very limited world view. People who are operating at a blue or a green level are people having much more universal view of the world, edging toward interdependency and sustainability and those kinds of things, and has a worldview of abundance versus a worldview of scarcity.
Then, taking that a step further, Teal conceptually would be a way to address—and my language would be the question of our times. I believe that it’s about how do we maximize/optimize the potential of each of us individually in the context of the interdependencies and how we need to work together. And so, the idea of teal organizations is about finding a way to create just the right amount of structure and as much freedom around them, in that structure, as to allow individuals to close the potential gap on their own individual potential but do it in the context of increasing the potential of each of us in the context of how we play and work together.
Josh: So, if I wanted to do that, what would I specifically be doing?
Bruce: Well, I’d have to give you some examples of that.
Bruce: So, Laloux highlights ten to twelve companies but there are a lot of different companies all over the world that are doing versions of this. And by the way, have been doing it for a long time – kind of, under the radar screen. The most current and most controversial version happens to be Zappos. So, it’s Tony’s Hsieh’s getting whacked in the press for doing away with managers and all of that stuff. I can talk, you know, in a great detail about that because I’m pretty much in touch with their organization on almost a weekly basis.
Josh: Oh, cool.
Bruce: So, an example would be the fundamental underpinnings, the three, kind of, pillars of organizations that are doing teal at the highest level have these three fundamentals in terms—and this is out of Laloux’s research. It’s evolutionary purpose or high-level purpose. It’s wholeness of each individual – of the individuals inside the organization. And then self-led and self-management. It’s getting people at the right level and the right place in the organization to own responsibility for tying their individual purpose, if you will, to the overarching organizational purpose. And in some respects, the community purpose. So, that all sounds kind of uber-y, touchy feely, right? As in some respects.
Well, what I realized when I got introduced to this is, this is the work I’ve been doing forever. My work has always been around guiding what I’m going to call the third-act CEOs. They started their business not necessarily to just make so much money and have an endgame in mind. Most people start businesses–many people start businesses with an infinite—they don’t have a finite endgame for themselves. They start out and they keep going. And then they start out and then they get to the next level and get to the next level. All of a sudden, they arrive in their 50s or 60s and they say, “Oh my God, I started out. I wanted to go to Chicago and now I’m in San Diego. What do I do now?” And in your work, you run into some of them who actually want to sell their business and they want to move on and go do something else with their life. But a lot of these people don’t want to leave their business.
Josh: I would say the vast majority by the way, Bruce. It’s not just some.
Bruce: Exactly. Most people don’t understand that. But what they do understand intuitively if they’re honest with themselves that what they did when they were age 45, if they continue to run the business like they were when they were 45, they’re going to kill the business off if they continue to do that when they’re 65.
Josh: Yeah. That’s absolutely true.
And so, they know. Inquisitively, they know that their role needs to change. They’ve been granted this 15 or 20 years of potentially productive life – many of them, if they have good health, and they don’t know what the hell to do with it. And so, the big challenge for them is to change their role in such a way that allows that next level team to grow so that the business can be truly sustainable. Well, if the next team doesn’t grow, the CEO doesn’t let go.
Bruce: And so, finding a way and a methodology to grow your team. And so, what I realized is that over the last 15 years, most of my work has been around that.
Well, the concept of teal is to get the team owning and growing as early in the game as possible which allows the CEO to let go more and more and more. Well, the irony of course is the more the CEO let’s go, the more the team grows. And so, the vacuum gets filled in some way and what you want to do is get the vacuum filled appropriately. So that’s the background for me. So I read the book and the book categorizes—I think, there’s ten companies but I’ll describe one or two if that’s okay with you?
Josh: Yeah, please do.
Bruce: So, there’s—Buurtzorg is a home health care nursing organization based in the Netherlands but they service communities all over Europe. Ten years ago, Buurtzorg had 90 nurses working for them. Today, they have 9,000.
Bruce: They, in Buurtzorg are totally organized in teams of 12 nurses, they describe as circles. So, if you live in a community—I happen to live in Pittsford, New York, right? So I live in a bedroom suburb of Rochester. So the 12 nurses that service Pittsford are based in Pittsford. So those 12 nurses—so there’s an HR department in Buurtzorg but the HR department can’t make any decisions for the circle of the 12 nurses.
The 12 nurses make all their hiring decisions. They make their service decisions. They do all of the decisions that need to be made to serve the community that they serve, inside the circle of 12. The role of HR is to be a coach or a guide to make sure that the circle of 12 has the competencies necessary to make the decisions. So, if there’s rules of the game and there’s stuff and there’s HR stuff and there’s compliance, they do all that kind of that stuff. That’s the job of HR – to make sure that they have the competencies, so not the HR makes the decisions for them but that the group or team can make the decision.
Josh: So this sort of fits in with what WL Gore and Company have been doing for a zillion years.
Bruce: Exactly. So, Gore’s a precursor of that. Patagonia’s another example of a company that does this quite well. So, it gets designed slightly differently in every organization because every organization has different constituencies, different ways to serve.
Josh: Yeah. Different stakeholders and—
Bruce: Yeah, exactly. And so, in Buurtzorg’s example which is a great example because of what they manage to do there. I mean, that’s pretty spectacular growth, right? I mean, 90 to 9,000?
Josh: Oh yeah, that’s unbelievable.
Bruce: There’s not a home health care nurse in Europe that doesn’t want to go work for them. And I think Daniel Pink it is talked about how important autonomy is to people.
Bruce: They’re given so much autonomy and they can make such a difference, people want to go work for them. I mean, if they wanted to, they could actually pay less. They don’t but they could.
Bruce: Another example, what they do there. So, they’re providing the home healthcare in the neighborhood. So, here in the States, if you’re a home healthcare nursing organization, you get reimbursed from insurance by how many actual contact hours a nurse has with a patient. A home healthcare nurse will get paid on utilization by the hour. So you get paid by how many patient contacts, so their utilization would be 80% or 90% of their time would be spent with patients. In Buurtzorg’s case, their nurses only spend about 40% to 45% of their time in direct care.
Josh: What do they do the rest of the time?
Bruce: The rest of the time, because they’re in the community, they educate and train the community resources. They find and identify who else can help? How else can help, how can people do things for themselves? They operate in a preventive, sustainable eco-almost community. And so, a nurse in Buurtzorg’s could service 4, 5 or 6 times as many households as a nurse can here in the U.S. So, the result is they’re unbelievably profitable because they can service so many more. So their compensation system is based upon the community results that they get, not based upon contact hour.
Josh: Interesting. So I’m assuming that there’s a CEO and a CFO and—
Josh: What do those guys do now?
Bruce: Those roles are guidance and coaching roles. They are not directive roles. The ideas for service and strategy. And oh they have a strategy circle, people feed into but the ideas for strategy come from the bottom up and not the top-down. The CEOs in those places get out of the way as much as they can. They let go as much as they can. It provides them guidance and counsel but they kind of absolve themselves from making decisions at that level.
In fact, Tony Hsieh signed a contract that says he won’t make any decisions at that level.
Josh: We could do a separate show on holocracy but I have a question here for you—or comment actually which I would like to hear your comment on. In my experience, most private business owners have a very difficult time with really trusting the people that work for them and allowing mistakes to happen as learning experiences in their organization. My bet is, with these teal organizations, that the whole basis is built around trust and having a culture of mistakes where we learn and open communication happens because we let people make mistakes.
Bruce: Yeah. Yeah, so one of the things that happens in teal organizations—and they all have kind of different systems of doing this, but roles and responsibilities are always clear. What are described in different ways and different organizations, domains are clear – so what’s the areas that the nurse has responsibility for making decisions and can make decisions and must make decisions. And so, there’s times when you need to go seek advice and counsel and then there’s times when you may seek advice and counsel. But within your domain, you are obligated to take initiative. These systems are designed and you know this, Josh.
Most of what we learn in the school. Most of what we learn in business—I teach a facilitate-a-leadership class, the vast majority of young people who show up in my class are waiting for somebody to tell them what to do. These systems that we’re talking about is designed to get people to exercise initiative by providing just enough structure to allow them to do that and as much clarity about what their roles and responsibilities are. So the companies that do these really well, have roles and responsibilities are crystal clear, they are accountabilities and what you’re accountable for is also clear. And then your projects and your next steps are also clear. And these companies, all of that, is visible and transparent to everybody. They help create systems and processes where none of that is under the table. None of it is in the backroom. Everybody knows. The sidebar of that is by doing that—and by the way, the Toyota Engineering Systems and some of the other systems are really good. There’s lots of systems around to make things visible, right?
Bruce: All of that is visible and transparent and updated in real time in teal organizations. And almost more importantly, they all have a system and process for where do you go for help when you have a problem or an issue. They create a process and methodology that everybody knows about.
In holocracy, it would be called tension. In the other organizations, it’d be called issues or problems or where do you need help, Bruce? That stuff, they build in a bias for action for getting those things on the table as opposed to having them underneath the table.
Josh: Yeah. And Gino Wickman calls it open and honest and the ideas, problems and—
Bruce: Yeah. I mean—and if you think about it a little bit, this is how Navy SEALS work. This is how those high-performing military teams work. There’s a captain. There’s a sergeant. There’s 12 privates. The privates all know the mission of the organization. They all know the purpose of why we’re here. They all know the strengths and weaknesses of their fellow teammates really well. And around a particular issue or problem, they’re going to organize and re-organize. Well, Bruce is really better at this than Joe is with that. They don’t wait as to who has the title for that. They just go organically just solve the problem. And so, the teal structure is designed to actually take advantage of what’s going on in most organizations already. An awful lot of the really important things to get done in organization outside the hierarchies, not inside the hierarchies, despite the titles.
Josh: Yeah. That makes a lot of sense.
Bruce, unfortunately we are out of time, believe it or not. This is a really interesting conversation and I just want the listeners to know where they can find you if they have questions. I’m assuming that you’d be more than willing to talk to people.
Bruce: Oh, I’d love to talk to them. Well, as you can tell, it’s not like I don’t like to talk about this stuff. So, it’s firstname.lastname@example.org and you go to that site. You can click through and you can find a way to contact me there if you want to follow up. You might even want to have a conversation.
Josh: Well, that would be great.
Here’s something I want everyone to think about, our purpose here is to help you figure out how to get a successful business and make it sustainable. I can tell you from my personal experience and looking at great companies that do this really well, it’s all about self-management. You can’t tell people everything they need to do. They have to figure it out at some point in their life and have systems that support them. And all of these – holocracy, conscious capitalism, I mean, there’s maybe five or six or seven different competing groups, B corporations today. All are getting at this from different directions. Now, like Bruce’s methodology—because it’s kind of easy for me to understand, so do yourself a favor and if you want more information, contact Bruce. That’s email@example.com.
I’m Josh Patrick and you’ve been listening to The Sustainable Business podcast. Thank you so much for your time and I hope to see you back here soon.
Narrator: You’ve been listening to The Sustainable Business Podcast where we ask the question, “What would it take for your business to still be around 100 years from now?” If you like what you’ve heard and want more information, please contact Josh Patrick at 802‑846‑1264 ext 2, or visit us on our website at www.askjoshpatrick.com, or you can send Josh an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for listening. We hope to see you at The Sustainable Business in the near future.