Reinventing organisations

3 min readAug 30, 2020

I read Frederic Laloux’s excellent “Reinventing Organisations” which outlines the journey that civilisation has been on to organise itself.

Even if decentralised, democratic and self-organised teal organisations may become the most evolved, many people do still want to feel part of a tribe, where people look out for each other, where there’s a strong sense of belonging, identity and community. As we’ve seen with the rise of authoritarian regimes but also with the Mafia, tribal militias in Africa or street gangs in our own neighbourhoods, many people do value a strong leader to provide them with a direction. How can we learn from these to create new forms of belonging, identity and communicate which bridge rather than just bond communities?

What about institutions? People still trust in very hierarchical institutions like the church, the arm or government, albeit less and less. Institutions provide stability, rigour and sustainability, or at least that’s their claim to legitimacy. How can we create new forms of institution without hierarchies?

The complexity of human evolution means that every paradigm transects the previous. There are many dimensions of human development and we don’t necessarily grow at the same pace in all of them. We might espouse a strong belief in a hierarchical religion and have a strong family unit, while working in an empowering decentralised organisation like a coop.

Humans are like strings, capable of playing many different notes. The range of notes they can play depends on the range of tensions they’ve learned to accommodate. When someone’s surrounded by peers who already see the world from a different perspective in a context that is safe enough to explore inner conflicts, the chances are higher that the person will make the leap. Instead of setting goals for our life, we should learn to let go and listen to the life that wants to be lived through us.

What I’ve learnt from Reinventing Organisations that we’re starting to apply are methods that Buurtzog have taken which is if teams get stuck, they can ask for external facilitation from their coach or facilitator or encourage people to build up expertise and become contact points beyond their teams and volunteer tasks or investigate a new topic. In that way, strategy emerges organically from the collective intelligence of self-managing teams where everyone senses the right thing to do.

How about more radical approaches that challenge hierarchical organisations, like the one taken by AES that any person in the organisation can make any decision, but before doing so that person must seek advice from everyone affected and people with expertise in the matter. The decision maker is the person who noticed the issue or the opportunity or the person most affected by it?




Head of Policy Design, Scrutiny & Partnerships @newhamlondon #localgov Co-founder of #systemschange & #servicedesign progs. inspired by @cescaalbanese