5. The Three Breakthroughs of Teal

Teal bars come with three breakthroughs that essentially challenge the management practices we have known so far. They reinforce each other, but are not necessarily all embraced at once. In fact, it is quite rare to have a company that would systematically operate fully on all three levels, simultaneously. It is more likely for the owner and the team to concentrate on the approach that they feel is the most important for their venue. People are drawn by different approaches depending on their situation. This is good news, since you who want to start the transform won’t be as overwhelmed by the size of the task.

The first breakthrough, Self-Management, requires upgrading almost all of the basic management practices and structures in the organization. That means, for example, breaking down the old hierarchy pyramid, sharing the responsibilities as a team and being accountable to your peers. Large groups need structure and coordinating mechanisms, but the future bars can operate more powerfully without managers and bosses. Leading bars as living organisms recognizes them as complex systems which are operated based on structures of distributed authority and collective intelligence.

The Self-Management section focuses on the following topics:

William Rose, Construction (1956)

The second breakthrough, Wholeness, focuses on creating a bar that supports personal growth and sees people as a whole, with their responsibilities and needs inside and outside the work place. Quite often, people are forced to wear a “masculine mask” at work, in order to gain respect, seem confident or to appear powerful at the work place. This is unhealthy. Practicing wholeness in your bar enables everyone to let their guard down, be themselves and actually focus on the work they want to do. When there are no bosses to please, no promotions to fight for or no need for elbowing one’s way upwards, much of the politics and backstabbing will fly out of the window.

The Wholeness section focuses on the following topics:

The third breakthrough. Evolutionary Purpose, acknowledges and vocalizes that the organization serves a purpose. Money, growth and a bigger market share are meaningless if there is nothing that makes it worthwhile. The question is, why does the venue exist in the first place? And, why does the bar deserve the workers’ energy, time, talent and creativity? On top of spirit, ingredient or technique trainings I believe the modern bar should also serve as a platform that encourages improving other personal competencies such as communication skills (social psychology, human behavior, body language), time management skills (down time, efficiency, stress management) and community building skills (equality, ecology, economy).

The Purpose section adds to the previous topics a few other aspects, such as:

In an ideal world, a Teal bar would operate by utilizing all three breakthroughs simultaneously. In reality, it depends on the team and what resonates most with them and which practices work best in a specific time, location or venue. The Teal framework is not meant to be taken as a simple step by step guide to success and glory. It is tough work, highly dependent on the individuals and will not work 100% on all three levels.

As Pim De Morree mentions in his provocatively named article Bursting The Bubble: Teal Ain’t Real, “If applied in a copy-paste manner, the most inspirational aspects of these organizations will simply become another completely misunderstood management fad.” Furthermore, De Morree & his Corporate Rebels wants to clarify that “We’re not saying the book [Reinventing Organizations] is wrong. What we are saying is reality is more nuanced than the way it’s being interpreted. Laloux himself warns: ‘Let’s be careful not to oversimplify! […] No organization is ever a pure breed.’ But many (people and organizations) ignore this crucial disclaimer.”

I wanted to point this out to remind you to practice questioning what you read and hear. It’s 2020, I’m sure you know that by now. Don’t even take everything I say about this topic as the only truth, suitable to every situation. Take in what you believe works in your workplace and what resonates with your team the most. The rest of it might work with someone else.

If you stick around, you’ll find my views on each of the three breakthroughs from the following posts, starting with the first breakthrough – Self-Management.

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Mika Ammunét Written by:

Bar Manager, Future Bar Owner

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