TEAL:How to Shift to a New Organizational Paradigm


In the last few years it’s becoming more common to leave the old-fashioned way of running companies and organizing a working process. Companies are shifting to a new perception of organizational model instead.

The world is constantly changing and it’s not surprising that the way people perceive organizations is becoming different. People are talking about combination of freedom and happiness as a key to success in all aspects of life. And while it is easier to apply those principles to personal life, there might be some struggles to feel genuinely free and happy at work.

That’s why the change is needed and this change already has a name — Teal. Teal organizations refer to the next stage of organizing the way companies work. Its main aspects are self-management, evolutionary purpose and integrity.

History of organizational models

There are five types of organizational structures in general. All of them are divided by color and were changing one by one throughout time: red — amber orange — green — teal. The color theory was created by a philosopher Ken Wilber and he found it to be a convenient way to show different stages of organizational structures.

Red organizations were the origin of command authority, they were gathering in violent groups with the one strong leader who made all the important decisions. Leaders at red organizations would often use their strength to evoke fear in those they were trying to control, there were no respect, comfort or support in such groups.  

Later as the society was evolving organizations had been changing too. People invented a structure with a strict hierarchy and formal roles. This structure is labeled Amber and the most vivid representation of it is the Catholic Church.

However these types of organizations were not effective and steadily the need for a new organizational model was growing, so that’s when Orange organizations appeared. They are determined by three core points: innovation, accountability and meritocracy. New departments were created, people were given more freedom and responsibility and at the same time they were more  motivated rather than punished.

Each individual could get a promotion for their skills and high performance at work, shift to a new role and be rewarded for reached goals. Orange organizations were not like a wolf pack, but more like a machine, where each small detail functions well and works for a good general result.

Moreover it soon became obvious that it is possible to change organizations in a different way, so that coworkers are not only effective and productive but also happy and content. The green stage meant that people were no more perceived like details to a huge mechanism, but more like members of a huge family, where everyone respects each other and cares for others.

Green organizations focus on cooperation over competition, they strive for equality, respect and tolerance. Leaders of green organizations invest in culture and values, coaching and learning of their employees.

It is not true that new types of organizations have replaced the old ones – they all coexist today. But the proportion is changing and so is changing the consciousness of new leaders. These individuals are not letting their ego control their decisions. They are not trying to create a stressful working environment, they are trying to create a work space where mutual trust and mutual decisions are main principles that people are driven by. This new concept of organizational model and leadership is represented by Teal organizations.

Teal’s main principles

Teal’s main principles are self-management, integrity and evolutionary purpose. How are they implemented to work?

In Teal organizations people base their working process on peer relationships and communication. Everyone in a team is responsible for general result, so everyone can suggest how to optimize some processes, what can be changed for the better and everyone can be a team leader when it is needed. There are no strict rules or regulations, no top leaders or top-managers who want to control each stage of a project. People are trusted and given the responsibility to make important decisions and coordinate the team through respectful communication.

Teal organizations concentrate on how they can help others and create effective solutions for them, focusing less on long meetings, strategic meetings and budgets. By doing so and creating value they gain more in perspective than typical and strict types of organizational models.

In Teal organizations each person is perceived as a an individual with goals and aspirations not just a working machine with a set of professional skills and willing to earn more and more money. Everyone is encouraged to rest well, develop their hobbies and bring that free and creative energy to work and be more effective and happy as a human being in a whole.

If in all the previous stages of organizational structures it was more about control and company’s accomplishments – in Teal organizations it is more about empowering employees and encouraging them to go after their inner ambitions.

Okay, Teal organizations seem interesting and appealing, but how can I implement it to my company?

It is believed that there are just two main conditions for that:

  • CEO that believes in Teal’s main principles and a team that shares the same values
  • implementing Teal principles by emphasizing its importance while taking important decisions together and supporting new members of a team, showing them how it works in real life and is applied to a working process in a your company

TEAL in AVA.codes

Our team at AVA.codes is on the stage of building its policy according to main Teal principles. There are still many weak points to work on, but by implementing this paradigm steadily we are growing a team with values that we believe in.

Our organization is also flexible and adaptive like a self-regulating system, that effectively solve tasks of any level of difficulty through interaction with colleagues. In our team the hierarchical “predict and control” is replaced with a decentralized structure consisting of small teams that take responsibility for their own governance and for how they interact with other parts of the organization.

It incredibly saves our time, because we do not waste it on management decisions through long hierarchical pyramids. Live. Work. Combine — these are the words that we live by and believe that they represent our values in the most accurate way.