Organizational Evolution: Important Questions
Posted June 15, 2017 by Jonathon Jackson
Albert Einstein once said that “we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them”. A new type of thinking, therefore, is required.
People tend to find this a difficult concept to grasp. They think that we can’t change our worldview, because this is what we know, and that’s all there is to it.
But advisor, facilitator and author Frederic Laloux points out in his book Reinventing Organizations, that this is exactly what has happened throughout human history, and every new stage of consciousness and development has been marked by a breakthrough in how we collaborate and organize.
This is how our society evolved from family bands to tribes and to empires and to the nation states that we know today. It’s also how our economy shifted from foraging to horticulture, agriculture and, eventually, industrialization and the knowledge age. It’s how we will continue to evolve with AI and VR, and with other technologies that help to create our new reality.
Every transition has launched a new era in human history, and every new step had previously been unforeseen. So what is out there that we cannot yet see, waiting to be discovered? Or, as George Bernard Shaw put it, “You see things; and you say ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say ‘Why not?’”
Laloux notes that, in recent history, organizations tend to make matters worse instead of better when they try to deal with their issues. They embark on change programs, consolidations, mergers, centralizations, decentralizations and incentive systems. They issue mission statements and seek efficiencies. Generally, these initiatives become part of the problem, not a solution.
From an organizational standpoint, the next stage of consciousness can be deemed as something that would be good for everyone involved: the company, the customer, and work and societal environments. It would be free of all the pathologies that make current organizational structures so challenging and frustrating – no politics, bureaucracy or infighting, no stress or burnout, no resignation, apathy and resentment, no posturing at the top of the hierarchy, no drudgery at the bottom. Talents and callings would blossom, and work would be productive, fulfilling and meaningful.
But there are many questions that arise from such a concept. What would such an organization look and feel like? Can we visualize and describe the organizational model – the structures, practices, processes and cultures? Can we take that description and use it to help establish other organizations like it?
What structure could replace the traditional pyramid hierarchy? How do we put purpose at the centre of what we do without making it sound trite? Can decisions be made in a way that doesn’t lead to chaos? How would salaries and promotions be determined? Is it possible to have meetings that are both productive and uplifting, where workers are encouraged to speak from the heart and not from the ego?
These questions, and others, must be answered. But even if we don’t have answers now, that doesn’t mean the answers don’t exist. We may currently only know one reality, but why should we limit ourselves to it? There are other realities that we can try to envision and create. As Laloux says, that’s how we have evolved throughout history.
Change is necessary, but so too is the faith that we can accomplish what we cannot necessarily see.
We at ODScore Inc. are experts in change management. We have a leading transformation framework, and we specialize in helping people and organizations to accomplish their goals.