Reinventing Organizations & Challenging Assumptions

Aristotle didn't count teeth

I read a passage in a book recommended to me by a leadership consultant, a friend of my husband who does a lot of leadership and sales coaching. The book, Reinventing Organizations, is a blend of observations of human dynamics in organizations along with observations of advances in human consciousness. And it’s well worth a read.

You Can Take Her Out of Corporate America, Sort Of

After spending many years in corporate America in the 1990s, I jumped off of that wheel and started working in a more personally congruent way helping people with their online presence. I suppose you could have called that an agency model, but it was more like friend-of-a-friend consulting and dev work. I didn’t want to build out an agency organization at the time, and I focused more on practical ways of being of service to those who were trying to figure out this internet thing.

Though not engaged in business, I still enjoyed reading about psychology and organizational dynamics during those isolated years in the mountains. I still do. I have been a huge proponent of the belief that humanity is undergoing a dramatic and fundamental shift in consciousness towards more congruent and purposeful work, and we’re seeing a more dramatic shift towards that now.

I don’t believe people need to have a vocation and avocation just to have a good quality of life. I honestly believe that we can, and should, work towards organizations that provide work that matters, sometimes very much, to their people.

One of the things I’ve loved about WordPress is that it provides a platform for passions to become sustainable businesses. Whether you’re teaching your expertise or selling the products you love to make, WordPress can help you do that. I’ve remained committed to the open source platform that provides this wide reaching capability because of the power I see in what it provides.

What Are Your Assumptions?

It’s been a while since I read Reinventing Organizations; my Facebook memories reminded me this morning that I read it in 2015. On page 1, there is something to think about.

“Aristotle, the great Greek philosopher and scientist, proclaimed in a treatise written in 350 BC that women have fewer teeth than men. Today we know this is nonsense. But for almost 2,000 years, it was accepted wisdom in the Western World. Then one day, someone had the most revolutionary of ideas: let’s count!

“The scientific method — formulating a hypothesis and then testing it — is so deeply ingrained in our thinking that we find it hard to conceive that intelligent people would blindly trust authority and not to put assumptions to the test. We could be forgiven for thinking that, perhaps, people simply weren’t that smart back then! But before we judge them too harshly, let’s ask ourselves: could future generations be similarly amused about us? Could we, too, be prisoners of a simplistic way of understanding the world?”


Reinventing Organizations, Frederic Laloux, page 1

Random fact: I was born without wisdom teeth, and I’m here to complicate Aristotle’s life.

Beyond organizations, this observation has wide reaching impact. What things that are simply not true do we take for granted as truth just because that’s what has been passed down year after year?

Where are you trusting the way things have always been in your business, your relationship, your life, or your organization? Much of the foundation of business today is based on outdated thinking, things that used to work, standards that are based on old models of human behavior. These organizations have to change or risk becoming obsolete.

The internet itself is changing how humans work, how we communicate, and how we see our world. So much has changed and continues to change. Trust in authority has been broken repeatedly. We’re discovering that the things we’ve been told about the way things have been are no longer valid or aligned with who we are becoming. Structures are changing, and the organizations that are not able to morph along with those changes will cease to be.

The beloved college education is no longer an aspiration for many people. They’re turning to the internet to learn what they want to know now, what will work for them today. The corporate ladders and titles no longer matter to that generation. And we have new demographics contributing in more widespread ways than ever before.

Is your business ready for that? Are you?

How could you be?

Listen to the Kids

Much of my former assumptions of reality changed when I had kids, and they continue to push me towards a better understanding of what’s happening. My greatest counselors on this dramatic awakening in human potential are 20 and 13 years old, but if you talk to either of them, they’ll fool you into thinking they’re wise old sages. They understand their generation, but they understand my own generation, too. They have good hearts, but they don’t suffer fools. They see through you, and I don’t get to bypass the counting of teeth, so to speak. I am challenged to be present, to be honest, and to be authentic.

It’s about saying you’re sorry when you haven’t lived up to your word. It’s about transparency when things are tough and you’re not quite sure how things will work out. It’s about being vulnerable, a good friend, a counselor, and being supportive when they’re not quite sure how things will work out. It is a give and take, and it’s about recognizing their potential and making sure there are opportunities to explore that.

That undercurrent of trust, transparency, authenticity gives me a better view into their world and what drives them. I cannot force them into places that society says they should be. Instead, I see the inner light that directs them into the places where they are purposeful and congruent with who they are.

I trust that. I trust them. I trust what I cannot understand in them, and I have to trust that process.

Yes, even when my eldest bought a van and was all about #vanlife. I disagreed and was honest about that, but he made it work for a while and I trusted that process. I had to. It was his life, his decisions, and his van. Well, until it didn’t work anymore. RIP Stranger Things van, I hope you’re serving your current owner better than it did Max!

Matters of Trust

With kids, as with anyone, it all comes down to a matter of trust. Being “impeccable with your word” (the first of the Four Agreements) and following through to the best of your ability on what you said you would do. It’s about personal integrity and personal growth, comfort with imperfection, a natural curiosity, and a knowledge that once a mission has been established, the organization will get there.

It’s not even about trusting people though that’s important. But can you trust the process of both human and organizational growth and evolution? It’s happening whether you like it or not. It’s about trusting yourself, that by being present and engaged with your own personal purpose, that you’re going to get to where you need to be.

The “teal organizations” explored in Reinventing Organizations have trust as a core value and foundation, and allowing members of those organizations freedom of decision making and exploration. It breaks down the top-down hierarchy of management into a paradigm where creativity flows towards an end goal of service.

If you can handle the color coded organizations that sometimes feel like a Homeland Security warning system, Reinventing Organizations is a great read for those who are looking to align their organizations, or themselves, with a new way of being of service.

This is day #11 of #ClickPublish in which I turn to Facebook memories for inspiration and it was surprisingly there! Thanks, 2015-self. Feature image by Rafael Rocha on Unsplash.

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