Thanks to Francois Milis, I participated to a training on “Integral Organisational & Structure Constellation Work”. What the hell is that I hear you ask? Like all interesting experiences I have, it inspired some more thoughts to share on how we need to reorganise ourselves to support more collaboration.
Translation is not my thing
I was invited to the training by Francois as it was given in English by a German and some of the participants only spoke French. My role was to translate “Gerenglish” into “Irench” (a mixture of Irish inspired Anglo-Français) which I speak fluently. What I can say with 100% certainty is that translation is not a career for me. Though my role was simply to translate the words, my personality conspired against me. The world of constellations has its own jargon and at times it is both abstract and an emotional language. I ended up translating things I didn’t really understand into sentences which seemed to make no sense. This for me, is mission impossible, as I want to understand and not simply repeat and I also have this compulsion to “add value” in everything I do (or what I perceive as value). In this case, I had to restrain myself. It reminds me of this clip from “Lost in Translation”
So what the hell is spiral dynamics when its at home?
Thankfully, I wasn’t alone in translating and was able to occasionally take a break when one of my colleagues took over. This gave me the opportunity to learn more about constellations and particularly about the work of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Wilber . I have been reliably told that if you understand this picture, then you essentially have understood a theory of everything as it relates to how human beings function:
I’ve made the image good and big in the blog so no excuses for not understanding it because it is illegible. The good news for you is that I am not going to explain it all, despite obviously having understood it myself, but just focus on the colours which relate to the spiral dynamics.
Changes in how we organise ourselves are accelerating
As an archaeologist, I really enjoyed this particular story. In essence, over the last 120,000 years, society has undergone a number of “paradigm” shifts in how we organise ourselves. These shifts have been described in the spiral dynamics theory. There is lots of info, images on this on the internet so if interested, take a look.
Essentially, the paradigm shifts are reflected in the different colours we see in the above picture. Beige, about 100,000 years ago, is the lowest level where we were instinctive and only cared about eating and not being eaten. Then came purple about 50,000 years ago when tribes emerged. This is followed by red, about 10,000 years ago, which is characterised by conflict, violence and the “law of the jungle” where the strongest gets the power. Like the mafia today, actually. Blue is from 5,000 years on where hierarchies are installed and from that period, rules determine governance and it gives birth to religions and democracies etc… The next level is orange, about 300 years ago. Organisations are flatter, more matrix structures and are driven by capitalism, efficiency and competitiveness. Based on some opinions, green, started about 150 years ago where we became more conscience of the impact of what we do and the desire to sustain and help others. This gave rise to NGO’s. The hippy movement of the 60’s would be a good example. The top two levels are yellow and turquoise and to be perfectly frank, I’m not convinced we are there yet or that we fully understand them. As you can see, the first 3 changes spanned 100,000 years and we have had about 4/5 changes in the last 300 years. We are in a period of human history of rapid changes in how humans organise themselves and the goals they serve.
Apart from the history lesson, what I learned is how these phases are reflected in both human beings and businesses. For example, when a baby is born they are instinctive or in the “beige” phase. When they hit the terrible 2’s they are in conflict, assertiveness or “red”. Then they go to school where they learn about the rules, hierarchies like in “blue” etc…. Currently, I believe I am in the green to yellow phase of my evolution. Many companies are either blue or orange and very few are green. They are still more interested in creating money than value or impact.
This is the point of my blog. As a result of the training, I can now create links between the spiral dynamics theory and what I perceive as a move towards a more collaborative economy. The collaborative economy, a little like my own evolution, is more towards yellow than green and certainly is less about hierarchy, rules etc… Value, impact, sustainability and common good will define this period.
I think this is a very positive evolution. However, we need to organise ourselves differently if we want to collaborate. Blue and orange organisational structures cannot really create the value and impact which the green and yellow would like to achieve (like many social entrepreneurs actually). That is why we need to build a bridge between the levels.
Many theories have been written about new ways to organise ourselves in green/yellow such as https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holacracy or http://p2pfoundation.net/Swarm_Leadership. It reinforces the points I’ve made in previous blogs about how the changes we are currently seeing in the economy reflect changes in society in terms of how we build relationships and interact in the common good.
Admittedly, this blog is longer and heavier in content than what I usually write but for those who have the interest and the patience to read it, I hope it helps understand the changes we are currently undergoing.