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Searching for Teal: A gathering at Buurtzorg
April 16, 2017
Initiated by J Kim Wright (author of Lawyers as Peacemakers and Lawyers as Changemakers), I took part in a gathering of lawyers seeking an alternative organisational model for working together, to see whether Frederic Laloux's book "Reinventing Organisations" could offer a way forward.
Laloux's book is making big waves in the change-maker scene, due to his gripping idea that the evolutionary capacities of people can be measured by the different ways they have organised themselves through time. Giving colours to each level of human organising, he starts with red - the predatory command authority of e.g. tribal militias. Amber is the paternalistic-authoritative leadership model of e.g. the military or Catholic Church, orange the goal and task orientated "predict and control" style of most corporations, green the stakeholder-driven models which are emerging in such companies as Ben & Jerry's. According to Laloux, "Teal" then is the next evolutionary model for human organising, exhibiting self-management and distributed leadership as its model for organising. Most law firms work in the Amber and Orange levels, leading to dissatisfaction in lawyers who have value systems more aligned with Green and Teal - hence the gathering.
We gathered in Almelo in the Netherlands, coming from different directions – Spain, Brazil, the UK and the USA as well as a South African lawyer currently living in the UK – thereby reflecting it seems a quest for something that crosses legal jurisdictions. Almelo is where Buurtzorg is headquartered, the
community nursing organisation founded by Jos de Blok in 2006 and one of the principle "teal organisations" that is used as an example in Reinventing Organisations. With the help of Jos's experience, we asked ourselves, what could a "Teal International Law Platform" look like, what would be its values, what were the needs that could be met by such a platform (needs of both the client and of the lawyers)? After much thinking, meditating, feasting and drinking, we arrived at a sense of something wanting to emerge from our collective inquiry, and that it would need careful nurturing to consciously call it forth. Another gathering is planned for October to keep carrying the momentum forward.