As I’m very much involved in transformation work that is promoting Teal self-organization in a large organizational setting, today it occurred to me that my on-going volunteer experience perhaps could trigger some wisdom from the naturally evolving Teal-like experience.
Here’s the background and evolution of this volunteering experience
I’m one of the founding members of a volunteer organization that supports on-line learning of meditation practice, all Chinese audience. One year on, we have about 20 +10 core members in the org team and we support 500+ people’s virtual learning. The starting of this effort has grown out of a natural need during COVID 19 when physical gatherings were not possible any more. Thanks to the virtual tools, we were able to broaden the experience both to people outside China and within China.
The core organizing members gradually evolved to its current organizational shape and continue to evolve. We are all part time volunteers. People come from all walks of life, having very different educational background, I’ve only met 2 other volunteers who are based in Switzerland. I’d say 80% of people have not read the book from Laloux and don’t know about Teal, yet as I perceive it, the way we organize is very Teal-like.
Thinking back, I could synthesize several learning points
1. Shared and evolutionary purpose is absolutely key
The number one thing that glues us together is the wish to support people during COVID time with the teachings and meditation practice. Because we all benefited from meditation greatly, the shared purpose permeates all that we do. This also turn out to be a natural bond that keeps us together.
2. Intentional de-ego helped the progress greatly
Because this is a group of people who have long-standing personal practices, I perceive a collective de-ego in the group. People are generally very self reflective, which paved the way for a very friendly generative environment without much trace of ego conversations. This experience turns out to be an energy source for me, despite that I have very busy schedules during the week and I volunteer for 3 hours during the weekend (very early morning hours for Swiss timezone).
Of course there were also conflicts and different views. In fact, in such an emergent process we had a lot of discussions from the beginning. The key benefit of a collective de-ego was a “clear” field. The discussions were based on an outcome to provide good learning experience for the audience. People’s mindset is on a broad scale to benefit the whole rather than any personal agenda. This has helped the progress immensely and made our conversation and listening much deeper.
Here I touch base again on the foundation of all the work, is based on good personal practice of self-awareness.
3. Leadership has emerged on passion and strengths and not based on power
The observation of leadership gave me a lot of insights.
It was a friend in Switzerland who started this initiative, I’m one of the 3 people who kicked it off. The 3 of us were the natural leaders for the first couple of months. We used the advice process in the beginning. Decisions are made when we discuss among ourselves and consult the teachers and those who will be impacted by the decisions.
Because all of the 3 founding members are full time employees. It is not sustainable to have us make all the decisions. So we invited more leaders who brought new ideas and showed capacity for managing a dynamic situations. Now we have established several themed circles. This also emerged from different types of work and a leader was recognized in each space. There is no title since there is a strong sense of community without hiercharchy. However, without hiercharchy doesn’t mean lack of leadership. On the contrary, I sensed there is very strong leadership shown in our daily actions. Various people stepping up and take accountability in leading one initiative.
I remain at the center of a stream providing the learning curriculum and ppt materials, because of my experience and strengths in this space. And I feel so happy many other leaders stepped in with their strengths. This all seems such a flow, I’m even a bit surprised that it all just emerged during the past year. We must do a empirical research on what made this Teal-like organization so natural. And again my intuition tells me the foundation of self-awareness, de-ego play a big role here.
4. Self organization principles from sociocracy 3.0 patterns provided many ideas
About the way we work. Because of a strong purpose, even without much of an idea how the organization could work out, we learnt a lot from various patterns of sociocracy 3.0 and simply rolled with it. We needed to adjust a lot along the way. I can’t really remember how many small changes we made. The shape of the program now is so much more elaborate compared to when we started. And we have a few hundred people who continued in the program.
5. Embodying the concept of impermanence, non-attachment made this experience much fun
If I would name the core things I benefited from the most, they are the understanding and embodiment of impermanence and non-attachment.
Impermanence is defined as all phenomena are constantly changing and not permanent. This is a concept easy to understand but hard to embody into everything we do. Really living and breathing with the concept of impermanence makes it easy for us to accept changes, to start experimenting and stop certain things. Understanding impermanence makes the whole experience much more enjoyable from a moment-to-moment aspect.
Another very important element that made my experience enjoyable is non-attachment.
Non-attachment is linked to de-ego, with the understanding that there is an illusory nature of things. That we create our reality based on our past experience. So not having a strong attachment to a certain result made our experience like a series of fun experiments. If for whatever reason we have to stop this activity, I will feel sad, but I feel the absence of strong attachment gave me permission to enjoy the moment. And with this light touch of enjoying the moment, we probably bring much more creativity than otherwise in a more tense environment.
After a year, we can say for sure that we created great impact to support the learning journey of several hundred people, and during the process, thanks to the embodiment of impermanence and the idea of non-attachment there is a lot of fun experimenting various approaches.
All in all, I feel I will naturally bring more of the above mentioned points to my daily work. It may seem counterintuitive for a commercial organization to think about de-ego, emerging leadership, impermanence and non-attachment, yet, maybe these points can provide some wisdom to balance today’s business approach when transforming in the direction of Teal. Perhaps the antient eastern wisdom from Buddhism and Daoism could trigger some curiosity to seek and apply such wisdom.