A green organization making the change to yellow.

Project Description

A green organization making the change to yellow.

As we walk into the hallway of the office I notice a sign hanging on the door that reads „Quiet – do not disturb“ so I ask the manager „what’s this all about?“ and he replied „We begin our meetings with 10 minutes of silence, so that everyone can integrate, get present, and then go straight to problem solving without a façade, agenda, or other such nonsense. When we walk into his actual office I cannot detect an ounce of chaos, stress or any evidence of disorder. So I ask him „Are you about to go on vacation?“ and he says „No, I’m here to be the coach and advisor for my employees who now make all of their own decisions on their own” “Aha” I replied, “And what does that mean exactly?” and then he said “Up until 2 years ago, myself and the other 3 managers were responsible for every problem that came across our desks. After watching the mountain of unresolved problems grow and grow, we became overwhelmed had to change something. Now, our employees mostly only come to us once in awhile for situations in which they can use another perspective, or help connecting them to ways in which they can still solve the problem for themselves. “Wow” I replied, “That requires a lot of trust. And what happens when things go wrong? Do you just replace the wrong-doers?” “Not at all”, he replied calmly, “We can all learn from mistakes, and the worst thing we could do as managers would be to stick our necks into everything – that would just get in the way of allowing potential to develop and we would just get stuck doing everything ourselves once again.”

This particular organization had been stuck in a rut of being “too green”, or what I like to call the “green-swamp syndrome”. Everyone had free rein to speak his or her mind, everybody was given the opportunity to be listened to, and all input was taken into consideration. Nobody hurt anyone else’s feelings, everybody felt equal, and everyone was made to feel included – and at the end of the day, nothing got done! So the constellation changed, and the focus shifted to integrating self-awareness, getting in touch with feelings, and naming them. Developing closer contact with one another, through empathy and presence, for oneself, for one another, and being open for potential to blossom. Conflict resolution workshops were expanded to include the theme of being present in communication. All of these factors helped to anchor a new awareness into the everyday corporate life.

The process flowed from the top – down, yes, you got that right. First it was the managers who committed themselves to the process, then the department heads, and then the employees. This formation created a great deal of trust in the process, to show that management wouldn’t ask anything of their employees that they wouldn’t first do themselves. Suddenly, among this crowd of engineers, expressing feelings, doubts, and concerns became fundamental to their work. They found that they were able to access their new found awareness to find solutions to problems that had previously seemed unsolvable. Even the number of meetings declined, as issues that had once led to conflict were detected earlier on and more easily discharged. There has been a higher incidence of conflict resolution because the approach is no longer focused on a person, or their role – it is about the underlying needs, and the people as a whole. Potential became revealed that was not even under the radar before. The space had been made available for it. And it was arrived at through a conscious choice made by all, not out of mandatory obligation.

Think about the following: If you had an employee who is content in their position as a software developer, for example, you wouldn’t encourage them to do something else that doesn’t fit, would you? So the same holds true for an employee that, for example, wants to step down from their position, or doesn’t have the time, desire, nor interest in developing their self-awareness. It is neither good nor bad. The conditions to develop potential are provided, handed out, offering awareness, and connection to potential possibilities. Someone is bound to step up to the plate, prepared to explore the depths of their own potential, taking the next step to experience who they really are.

A corporate culture that is invested in the development of potential does not conflict with the flow of resources. The point is always of course to earn money as well. The fundamental difference is that we are not stuck in the mud. The company in this example holds an “innovation circle” four times a year, which is completely devoted to the corporate culture of the company, and attended by managers and staff who have already attended seminars, and put what they learn into practice. Here we witness once again the difference between “Orange” and “Green”. Sitting in a 360° circle, everyone is equal, regardless of position. When management disagrees with a proposal, there is never a “Red” word muttered, that would cancel out the “Green” or “Yellow” input, instead there is an inner circle created, an intimate pow-wow, in which the 4 managers share their concerns, ideas, and questions. Through this they are able to create a catalyst for an even more enriching “Yellow” work culture.

Project Details

NewTec GmbH
April 15th, 2014
Change Process, Collective Leadership, Culture Design, Innovation, Learning Organization, Organizational Development, Unfolding of Potential
2013 till present

Project Skills

  • Advice Process
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Empathic Listening
  • Potential Reading
  • Presencing
  • Present Communication
  • Self-Organizing System
  • Spiral Dynamics
  • Theory-U