The teal movement is on the move.
That’s the high-level assessment our Teal Team makes as we survey the landscape of individuals and organizations dedicated to evolving purpose, holism and self-management.
Years of toiling away at teal, as well as the fertile, disruptive conditions of the past year, are yielding visible progress in terms of people and companies focused on a more conscious, soulful way of doing business.
It is a hopeful, silver lining in what has been a largely gloomy 18 months.
What are we seeing that lifts our spirits and leads us to see tealy momentum in today’s tea leaves?
For one thing, Frederic Laloux, in many ways the father of the teal movement, made a rare appearance earlier this year at the Teal Around the World event, with an inspiring message. He spoke about the importance of seeking to live in integrity, a kind of deeper embrace of wholeness. Asking profound questions about the kind of world we are willing to accept can be a source of vitality for us individually and as a movement, he suggested.
“There’s wonderful aliveness waiting for us if we reconnect to the sources of our integrity,” Frederic said.
But true to the teal philosophy, it’s not about one person. As moving as Frederic was, the larger movement has its own flow and life now. Below are other developments that give us hope:
The Maturation of What May Be the World’s Only Teal Investment Firm
As we detail in another blog on our website, Belgium-based Pebble Wave is building on lessons learned over the past several years of investments in 12 teal organizations to launch a new 25 million EUR fund. With this chunk of money, Pebble Wave aims to back an additional 40-60 teal companies over the next three years. Pebble Wave’s founders see this new fund as the start of an ambitious plan to fund thousands of organizations around the world that practice teal management and embrace conscious leadership.
The Success of Teal-Oriented Consulting Firms
Advisory firms helping other organizations adopt teal beliefs and practices have been around for some time. HolacracyOne, for example, has been guiding clients on the principles of the self-management system of Holacracy since 2007. Percolab, with operations in North America and Europe, has been helping organizations work in more conscious, horizontal ways for 15 years, with clients including the European Commission, human resource associations, and business leader clubs. Walking the talk of equitable and inclusive ways, all Percolab offices are employee-owned cooperatives.
In addition to these veteran advisory organizations, there’s been an upswell of consulting companies in the teal arena in recent years. These include The Ready, whose client engagements have included such big names as AirBnB, Hyatt and Johnson & Johnson, and August, with a client roster that includes Pepsico, Airbus and IKEA. Another tealy consultancy is Belgium-based Hifluence. One of the portfolio companies of Pebble Wave, Hifluence has worked not only with sister companies but with other organizations including Land Rover-Jaguar and Belgium financial services firm Bank J Van Breda & Co NV.
Big, Mainstream Companies Dipping Their Toes in Teal
As the client rosters of the consulting firms above suggest, teal is making inroads with some of the world’s biggest companies. Even if they aren’t embracing the entire ethos of more conscious, soulful organizational cultures, mainstream businesses are exploring teal principles such as decentralized decision-making, employees bringing their full selves to work and a greater focus on purpose. Another sign of the teal momentum among global corporations is the speaker line up at the recent Teal Around the World conference. It included leaders from Roche, Bayer and Renault.
Growing Self-Awareness as a Movement
For a movement founded on the principle of holism and interconnectedness, many people drawn to teal ideas have not known about peers with a similar passion in more conscious approach to business. That’s changing. Events, newsletters, podcasts and the like are helping tealies learn about each other. Among the things helping the movement see itself: Enlivening Edge Magazine, the Corporate Rebels newsletter, Responsive.org events and the Teal Network, host of the recent Teal Around the World conference.
New Books Building Teal Wisdom
Many of us got hooked on Frederic Laloux’s Reinventing Organizations. And since the publication of that seminal work in 2014, we’ve seen a flurry of related books that extend the principles, offer practical applications, or dive deep into a particular dimension of teal culture. These books include:
—Brave New Work by Aaron Dignan, founder of The Ready.
—Going Horizontal by Samantha Slade, co-founder of Percolab
—Lead Together by Brent Lowe, Susan Basterfield and Travis Marsh
—Reinventing Masculinity by Edward M. Adams and Ed Frauenheim
Yes, I co-wrote that last one. And it is about matters beyond teal organizations. But it includes a chapter on reinventing masculinity at work, and how men must go from trying to be the “Man of Steel” to becoming “Men of Teal.”
Continued Momentum in Adjacent Biz / Social Trends
The teal organization movement has several cousins that continue to gather strength. These include the agile movement, which is expanding beyond its roots in decentralized software coding to become a broader management approach. Likewise organizations and initiatives such as Conscious Capitalism, Great Place to Work, B Corps and Sustainable Brands continue to whet appetites for still deeper explorations of organizational purpose, structure and soul.
The Tealy Linings of 2020
But perhaps the most promising developments in the teal arena are also the ones that have been the most painful. We’re speaking of the COVID pandemic, the related economic downturn and the racial reckoning of the past year and a half. Together, these interrelated crises created a fertile environment for teal to take off.
Because of them, the world was rocked by new levels of economic volatility. There were unprecedented levels of stress and self-disclosure as masses of employees worked at home. And there were urgent calls for racial and social justice—for a reexamination of power and its distribution in organizations and society.
Thanks to a difficult 2020, it seems the world has become more receptive to an organizational philosophy and practices that are particularly suited for sensing and responding to complexity, that encourage people to bring their full selves to work and that fundamentally challenge hierarchical relationships.
So we are hopeful. For years, many of us have been itching to see the teal agenda advance.
We think this is our time.
It’s teal’s time.
We’re on the move.
Ed Frauenheim is co-founder of the Teal Team and co-author of Reinventing Masculinity: The Liberating Power of Compassion and Connection.