There are lots of ways of looking at organisations. I've been trained and accredited in several organisational tools over the years, but found many of them limited in their dimensions - they never really felt like they got the 'whole' of an org - they just chose some random bits to try and assess in fairly interchangeable ways.

As I've said before, one of my values to my clients is my systems thinking - seeing the whole picture. I think that anything that unnecessarily oversimplifies the complexity the world actually works can be downright ineffective. I see lots of money wasted on consultants providing overly simplistic solutions to inherently complex problems.

Recently I've been becoming familiar with Integral Theory and some downstream work by Frederic Laloux called Reinventing Organisations. It's central premise is that our organisational models have developed over time to suit our needs, and as we move from stage-to-stage of our evolution, our organisational models change to suit these general stages. Laloux notes shifts from dominating hierarchies (think Game of Thrones - the strongest, most ruthless, most feared survive) to much larger hierarchies which can span continents through rigid structure and bureaucracy (think the Cathoic church), through achievement-oriented organisations with devolved leadership.

Colours are used to describe the stages of development - red being the impulsive end, progressing through amber and orange to green and teal. Each of the stages has condions in which it has stengths and thrives, and conditions in which it casts shadows or is unsuited.

The piece that drew me to explore the book was an assessment map that has been developed by Szabolcs Emich and Karoly Molnar via Circle 43 (see below).  Initially I found the scale and complexity of the map almost overwhelming. However, as I went on in my coaching practice, I found myself associating more and more organisational behaviour with the stages of red through green (not sure that anyone is at teal yet). 

Almost more helpfully, I found that the stages were a useful way to reconcile my expectations of my clients with "where they are". As a system/integral thinker, I often find myself approaching organisational challenges from green/teal-tinged perspectives. However, if I'm working in an organisation that is inherently orange, I can't expect many green behaviours. It has allowed me to accept my clients as they are, and also to put the challenge of "progress" into a much more complex box.

Of course, the map can be used as a diagnostic to look at 20 aspects of organisational behaviour, and it is extremely useful in this sense. It will also help to point to some areas for improvement if progression towards a different stage is what the organisation wishes.

I believe the marker of a useful theory is one that automatically stays with you and changes the way you see things. Whether I like it or not, I've added coloured glasses to my organisational work, and this has mostly been for the best. I have thoroughly enjoyed my dive into Reinventing Organisations, and recommend it to those interested in organisational creation, culture and change.

I've also left you with a matrix summarising much of the early theory in the book, so that you can decide what kind of organisation you have. 

As always, we should Skype and discuss it.