Podcast Ep. 99: What Does Shifting to a Teal Model Mean? With Simon Holzapfel

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Episode Description:

Dan is excited today to be joined by his guest, Simon Holzapfel. Simon is the founder and Executive Director of Copper Beech & Company, where they provide financial literacy for high net worth families. He is also an educator, agilist, and learning innovator. He has dedicated his entire adult life to equipping young adults with the knowledge and skills they require to work, think, and live well.

In this episode, they will be exploring the topic of the Teal Movement, agile organizations, and education during the pandemic. Simon thoroughly explains what the Teal Movement is, why it is important, and what it looks like when applied to a variety of organizations. He also shares about a unique project he is a part of and what they’re doing to bring authentic agile to the world.

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Key Takeaways

  • What is the Teal Movement?
    • A reference narrative for how the world of work is, how it has evolved, and where it is going
    • It is a navigation tool to understand how you can achieve the next level
    • Laloux (the founder of the movement) proposes that there is a concentric circle to how organizations have developed over time
      • Red: Command authority, division of labor, power, fear, and chaos (examples: Street gangs, mafia, tribal militias)
      • Yellow: Hierarchy, stability, control, formal roles, long-term perspective (examples: Traditional churches, governments, public schools)
      • Orange: Competition, accountability, meritocracy, objectives, profit (examples: Public universities, large corporations)
      • Green: Delight customers, shared values, engagement, stakeholder balance, culture over strategy, empower (examples: Ben & Jerry’s, Southwest Airlines) — This is where agility tends to live right now
      • Teal: The net iteration of agility into antifragile organizations, built around higher purpose, self-management, distributed decision-making, wholeness, and evolutionary purpose
    • Laloux is not saying other colors other than teal is bad; he is saying that all of the other colors are instrumental in getting to where we are now — but they’re cruft; Laloux recommends, as a society, we shed these other colors as best as we can
    • Recommended further reading: Reinventing Organizations, by Frédéric Laloux
  • Where this movement connects to different organizations:
    • Teal education: Students are encouraged to “pull” information into their lives rather than be pushed into learning (Examples: eduScrum, Montessori education)
    • Teal manufacturing: Self-organizing, teams pulling in work (as opposed to work being pushed on to them), and brining your whole self to work (examples: Morning Star, Buurtzorg)
  • What Teal organizations look like/involve:
    • A healthy bottom line
    • They are incredibly efficient at generating value
    • Employees are far more productive because they are listened to, encouraged, and engaged
    • They foster more active engagement which, in turn, creates better results and outcomes
    • It’s not about no rules or no structures; it is simply a different set of principles (by and large, the agile mindset)
    • Involves intent-based leadership
    • Trust is incredibly important — without it, everything will fall apart
    • Everything is visible and transparent (visibility is the trust builder)
    • The leaders or teachers create a feedback-rich environment so that the employees/students can learn quickly
  • About the Boston University Agile Innovation Lab:
    • The goal: Bring authentic agile to the world (including agile students by meeting them where they are with the interests that they have)
    • They want to complement schools and not compete with them
    • They are striving to create a more open “meta” that creates more equity
    • Authentic agility + trying to introduce more Teal structures

Mentioned in this Episode:

Transcription [This transcription is auto-generated and may not be completely accurate in its depiction of the English language or rules of grammar.]

Intro: [00:03] Welcome to Agile Coaches’ Corner by AgileThought. The podcast for practitioners and leaders seeking advice to refine the way they work and pave the path to better outcomes. Now here’s your host coach and agile expert, Dan Neumann.

Dan Neumann: [00:16] Welcome to this episode of the Agile Coaches’ Corner. I’m your host, Dan Neumann and excited today to be joined by Simon Holzapfel, he’s the founder and executive director of Copper Beech and Company, and Copper Beech does financial literacy for high net worth families? I think. Did I do that kind of capture that, We talked about what you do and I tried to paraphrase it.

Simon Holzapfel: [00:38] Yeah, that’s exactly right. I know. And thank you for having me on. I’m really excited. I love the show. I’m, I’m thrilled to be here and yeah, that’s, that’s, that’s a lot of what I do. I’m working with these families that have a very complicated lives and it’s, it’s great to be able to help them out.

Dan Neumann: [00:52] That’s cool. And we’re not going to be talking about the financial side of, of, of the consulting. Um, but you reached out, I know we often have an invite saying, Hey, if there’s something you want to hear about, reach out to us and you reached out and said, Hey, here’s this kind of interesting thing that I’m doing or you thought it was interesting. I thought it was interesting. So we decided we should, uh, we should do an episode about it. And that thing, that thing we’re going to be talking about the TEAL model, agile organizations and, and exploring that a little bit.

Simon Holzapfel: [01:24] Yup. Yup, exactly. Yeah. So, you know, I’m not sure where I should begin. I think if we can just start with TEAL, that would be the best, the best way to go.

Dan Neumann: [01:33]
Yeah. And you talked, you had mentioned Laloux was the name of the gentlemen who, who came up with that. And for me, I’ve heard about teal. I’ve been in agile conferences. I heard about teal. Honestly, I didn’t go to the sessions cause I thought it sounded a little woo to me. Like I didn’t, I didn’t know what I was in for. And I was like, I’m a computer science guy at heart. I wanted something really tactical. Teal, teal sounded like, woo. And then maybe you can help us understand a little bit about teal and why it’s not quite so woo as it sounded to me for me.

Simon Holzapfel: [02:03] And I, and I would say it’s not 0% woo, but it’s, but it’s a small enough percentage that it’s, that it has real utility for agilists. Um, and so specifically what Laloux puts out there and I would recommend that folks go to his 2016 free PDF. It’s an illustrated companion, uh, to reinventing organizations.

Dan Neumann: [02:25] Cool. And we’ll put, we’ll put that on the show notes too, so people can find exactly what we’re talking about. Sorry to cut you off.

Simon Holzapfel: [02:30] No, no, that’s, that’s great. Um, and so basically what Laloux gives us and by us, I mean, agile is to our also agile evangelists is this really nice, um, kind of reference narrative for how the world of work is how it’s evolved and mostly where it’s going and what we see, especially in the age of COVID and in a whole lot of other things that are happening right now, um, you know, developments that should give us encouragement, especially in this sort of dark time. And if, if we have two more seconds, basically, and if you, if you open up a browser tab, you can see this kind of concentric circle diagram. And if I can just go through it real quick.

Dan Neumann: [03:13] Yeah, yeah. Take your time. Lots of, I mean, not lots of time, but we had, we have enough time. Yeah,

Simon Holzapfel: [03:17] Yeah. And so he basically proposes that there’s these sort of concentric circles and that over time organizations have, um, started at sort of the basic level of human bands ages ago. And, and the tools were kind of command authority, power, fear, chaos. Um, and we see this in organizations like street gangs, the mafia, those, those sorts of things, tribal militias, and that, you know, there were benefits to that. And what that enabled was kind of the next iteration and that next iteration, he colors as yellow, yellow is about hierarchy, stability control. Um, and it has, again, these, these benefits of formal roles, process, longterm perspective, these are valuable things. Um, but they come with costs and, and he gives the example of traditional churches, public schools, governments as emblematic of this kind of yellow level. And over time, yellow kind of has given way to what he calls orange, um, orange type organizations. And so those are organizations that again, bring in innovation, accountability, meritocracy, all useful things, um, public universities, most large corporations that would be exemplars of this. And they’re really built around objectives and profit, competition. And over time he then talks about sort of where that’s going. And he calls that green. And green organizations, which I think is where agility tends to live now, although it’s often embedded in orange or yellow or red organizations, those are about stakeholder balance about culture, over strategy, about empowerment, um, you know, delighting customers, engagement, shared values, and the green stuff, you know, is, is again what we mostly know. And so when we think about, um, you know, Southwest airlines or Ben and Jerry’s, those are the sort of companies that we think about. And then we get to teal and Laloux proposes that teal is sort of the next iteration that the evolution through green, into antifragile organizations, uh, into organizations that are really built around higher purpose around distributed decision-making wholeness, um, self-organization self management and an evolutionary purpose. And this is, you know, once I had this sort of schema, um, I could then talk to people about it in ways that were much, much easier than before. Cause I had this big narrative about how the human organizations evolve. And if we, as agilists want to help organizations evolve, we need to give maps and have shared language constructs with the folks who are trying to help. And so you get this basic ability to navigate with the Laloux stuff and to talk to people about it. So you can have something happen and you can sort of color code, um, to some degree, you know what that thing is. So it’s just, it’s a navigation tool.

Dan Neumann: [06:14] Yeah. That’s interesting. It is. As you said that, right, it’s pretty hard to navigate without a map. And you know, in our real world lives, we’ve got GPS turn by turn directions, et cetera, and culture change isn’t something where you can get a turn by turn type of change. People will sell that, but they’re lying.

Simon Holzapfel: [06:32] That’s right.

Dan Neumann: [06:34] No, there’s no magic pill. There’s no turn by turn directions for getting from here to agility. It did make me wonder if street gangs might not be the next untapped frontier for agile coaching, but probably the risk of that is really high risk of failure. Yeah. So you were talking about, you know, the, the fear, the fear based organization, the red one, which has been, you know, when we were roving bands of humanish, you know, types of creatures running around you needed your band. There was a lot of fear. Everything was scary, you know, kill it, kill it, kill it, and eat it or run away from it. Cause it might kill you. And I still see that in the way people will react to threats and risks and things like that. Just that, that instant reaction, because we’ve been wired for that over time.

Simon Holzapfel: [07:20]
All the time. That’s right. And so the thing to understand is Lulu is not trying to be judgmental and say, other colors than teal are bad. Those other colors were instrumental in us getting to where we are now, but they’re cruft, right? Cruft is expensive. Cruft is not enjoyable. And so he proposes trying to let go of those sort of cruftier earlier layers to the extent that we can,

Dan Neumann: [07:45] My public education’s thrown through. I want to Google cruft. Sorry. So it’s a wasteful distracting. Okay, cool.

Simon Holzapfel: [07:54] Yes. Yeah. Obstructing.

Dan Neumann: [07:56] Yeah. Okay. They’re there in the way of us getting there. And I think I see that with, um, you know, the, the positioning, the political BS that goes on through, through different organizations that all have politics. I think to some degree, although maybe, maybe Laloux would say teal politics turns into something else.

Simon Holzapfel: [08:14] That’s a great, that’s an excellent, I wonder, uh, I would say so. I mean, I would say that the political impulse is largely an impulse to organize people and resources. And I don’t think that would ever go away. I think it would be a structure that is a different structure, um, for the political than some of the other stuff.

Dan Neumann: [08:33] Yeah. And maybe we don’t go down that rat hole too far, but maybe the, maybe the political part to organize resources is done out of a power motive, lower at non teal places, whereas it’s done to help achieve, um, you know, achieve your higher purpose, achieve antifragility and building support for that. Yep.

Simon Holzapfel: [08:53]
Yep. And so where this then connects into education is, um, you know, when you, so I’ll just, you just say, like I start my first 15 years of work, whereas, uh, as a high school teacher, I taught history. I taught econ. I taught political science, which I loved. And then about another 15 years for the last 15 years, I’ve gotten into education, um, as an administrator. And then I ran a boarding school for a half dozen years, um, and really tried to make those organizations more agile to the extent that was appropriate and, you know, had some, some successes, some not. And what we kept running into is these structures, um, that just didn’t really work well. So education at its basic core, studies the individual, right? You get certified, you get the piece of paper as an individual. We also know that it’s teams that create value. So there’s this basic sort of in compatibility with what school’s purpose is and how they work with agility. And that’s just going to be a problem forever. Maybe we can talk about that with the BU project later on about how we might sort of work around that to some degree. Any case, um, you know, the, the Laloux stuff is just very helpful. And I, and I would recommend that to folks who are working with someone and want to have a map and can sort of again, navigate, um, more easily. So the other thing that was going on is, you know, as we got into COVID times, um, I, you know, had, had been, uh, trying to bring some of these ideas actually into the real world and when COVID hit. And I saw that lots of college students, um, summer internships were blowing up. I was like, well, what the heck? I’ll just form a team. Um, you know, I’ll, I’ll recruit a handful of college students and, you know, we’ll get after it, we’ll, we’ll, we’ll stand up a team and we’ll see, how do we bring these TEAL ideals, um, you know, out into the world, the students were really excited about it. And we were like, okay, let’s think about a product that would allow permissionless innovation, right? No patents, no, none of that stuff. And so kind of the obvious thing to do was t-shirts. Tee shirts are not expensive. You can put cool messages on them. I had a former student whose family runs a tee shirt, um, screen printing business. And so we had a subject matter expert. Um, and yeah, we kind of just, you know, stood up the team. Um, did market research, you know, did a logo, did all the usual things that you do to kind of make a, a little tiny t-shirt startup, the idea being I wanted the college students to in a really authentic way practice the agile patterns, um, in the real world. Um, and we would take time, you know, we would put in the kind of, uh, on our Kanban board we put in an archive and I would put in the Laloux stuff and I would put in, you know, jobs to be done and the lean canvas and these sorts of resources. And as we needed those things, we would draw on them, um, to inform Sprints and that sort of stuff.

Dan Neumann: [11:54] I think that’s interesting. And, um, boy, I’d love to, at some point peel apart, the individual certifications yet teams deliver value in education, but I think we’re going to set that one aside, um, because that boy, that, that does sound really interesting and maybe, maybe, uh, an interesting path to go down, but you’re talking about your t-shirt, um, startup with teal principles. And it occurred to me, manufacturing is one of those places that can really easily fall into the red, the yellow, even, you know, lean six Sigma stuff. That’s not exactly Teal. There’s a lot of command control, squeeze efficiencies out of it. Um, and, um, what does teal within a manufacturing company look like from your perspective, maybe take the teal concept and make it a little more concrete with like actions and behaviors.

Simon Holzapfel: [12:44] Yeah, for sure. For sure. So the, um, one of the exemplars is Morningstar, which is a tomato processing company in the US um, Laloux gives the example also of the Burt’s org, which is a health organization in, uh, the Netherlands, I believe. Um, he holds up the company Patagonia as an example, and he gives a couple of other examples in this 2016 illustrated companion. There’s a brass Foundry in France, um, you know, again, the teal organization and the features of it. I take as a rough analog to agility because it’s all about, you know, self organization teams pulling in work, as opposed to having work pushed onto them, um, you know, evolutionary purpose, bringing your whole self to work, those sorts of things. So I think teal and agile, you know, in, in rough terms can be understood as, as, you know, analogous. Sure,

Dan Neumann: [13:46] Sure. And I guess, so those, those examples are helpful, right? So there’s work to be done. It’s on a board where people can then can then pull it in. Yep.

Simon Holzapfel: [13:57] And in the example of, of Burt’s org in particular, he shows that teal organizations can be incredibly efficient at generating value. In other words, the teal bottom line is absolutely as robust as anywhere else. Uh, in, in the examples that he shows that I think that’s an important thing because too often people will be like, Oh, this is just like hippy, kumbaya sort of stuff. This is not like the real deal. And I’m like, no, no, you can actually, you can have a healthy bottom line using these patterns using this, using this mode.

Dan Neumann: [14:30] Yeah. You know, I think of the financial side a lot of times, um, and we’ve had episodes where we’ve talked about three horizons, um, which is, you know, horizon, one’s all about getting a lot of efficiency out of what you’re currently doing. And for me, sometimes that really sounds very, not agile, not teal, et cetera. Um, but what you’re saying is in a teal organization, you can still have, um, robust Financials. Do they manifest themselves differently than they do? Yeah. Okay.

Simon Holzapfel: [14:57] Yep. For sure. And you know, and again, we, we actually, shouldn’t be surprised by this, um, every year there’s a large, um, survey that comes out about in the US about employee engagement or disengagement. And the last that came out recently, the numbers are just appalling. 60% of people are basically disengaged at work. So if you just take company A with 60% of its people being disengaged and company B that’s a teal organization, people are going to be far more productive in that latter case. And so, you know, we shouldn’t be surprised given how hateful most people’s work experience is that they get in this other space where they’re actually listened to and encouraged, and the best is brought out from them. Of course, they’re going to be far more productive.

Dan Neumann: [15:41] And not even just disengaged, they’re actively disengaged. They’re just skating by it’s, they’re explicitly doing something else other than other than their work. So seals fostering more active engagement. So you’re getting better outcomes, better results from that, as opposed to trying to play these games, essentially where management tries to manipulate or incentivize lineworkers line workers, try to skate by and find a way around those loopholes. And you end up with the tug of wars that you do the lower organizations.

Simon Holzapfel: [16:19] Yup. Well, and I’m glad you said that cause it’s the tug of war. That again makes a agility education really difficult because school is the original push system. There’s not much pull except in this sort of far corners of progressive education, where students are encouraged to pull information into their lives. School is generally built around we’re going to push stuff to you. You don’t actually get to decide what it is that you want to know. Um, and so similarly, most, a lot of high school students are quite distant or students in general are disengaged as a function of their voice and their interests being irrelevant. Now, obviously there are teachers who are exceptions. There are progressive schools that try to do something different, but by and large, again, we have this kind of DNA incompatibility with education as you and I have known it. And, uh, you know, agility.

Dan Neumann: [17:21] And so you’ve got the, a lot of the education system, like you said, it’s pull, it’s push. And I think you’ve explored Montessori for a while. And what little I know about Montessori, that feels like it has some pool components to it, where kids get to explore more. And as a half alluded to it on this podcast before I was a son of a Lutheran minister. And so that, that was to woo for me. I’m like, wait, wait, wait, we’re going to sit around and talk about our feelings. And no German Lutheran heritage says we need rules, but I think teal organizations aren’t without rules, right? So in education like Montessori has rules and principles, but they’re different, different looser frameworks.

Simon Holzapfel: [18:07] Yeah, that’s such an important observation because you can’t actually get stuff done without those structures and without rules. So there’s this misperception of the sort of older type of organization that the only form of structure, the only form of order is me telling you thou shout. Whereas in fact, if I trust you and I’ve trained you well, and we’re on the same page and have a shared vision, you’re very capable of knowing and discerning what it is that you need to help us move forward. So, so teal is not about no rules and no structures. It’s a different shape. It’s a, it’s a, it’s a different set of principles and precepts that are just the agile mindset by and large, you know, and people like Gilbert Broza have written incredibly gracefully about, you know, the agile mindset. And it’s just, it’s, it’s not where schools default to because schools are basically medieval structures.

Dan Neumann: [18:59] Oh, that’s yeah. Like literally they’re measurable structures.

Simon Holzapfel: [19:05]
Human evil structures. And so it was like, no wonder, most people don’t like school and the way that most people don’t like work.

Dan Neumann: [19:12] Hmm. That’s interesting. I wanted to explore a little bit, so we’ve, we’ve got organizations that are very non teal, so they’re, they’re either, um, kind of orange, which was universities, large corporations, et cetera. And maybe, and even we see our government now, which is yellow. You’ve got military, that’s looking at agility. Although I don’t know if the military could ever really get teal because by definition, their job is to kill people and break stuff. Um, yeah.

Simon Holzapfel: [19:41] I would just point you to one really exceptional, um, exception to that, which was a, by a military commander of a submarine, he actually wrote the forward to one of Guild Rose’s books and his book is called turn their ship around something like that. Yeah. Very, very crisp agility on nuclear submarines, which has yep, exactly. Right. So anyhow, sorry to interrupt.

Dan Neumann: [20:02] Oh, that’s well, that’s an interesting example because I was where I was going with that. And then in your helping me get, there was a lot of times these entities are now saying, Hey, we want that agile thing. Like all the cool kids are doing agile. We see organizations that are getting great results using agility. We want that. And yet inside, there’s the manipulation of the profit motive. There’s the high command and control. And it’s hard to say we want all that agile stuff while holding that. In fact, it’s probably impossible to get all that good agile stuff while you’re holding onto command and control and fear and structure and all the things that aren’t very helpful. Um, but in turn the ship around David Marquet talks about things like intent-based, Hey, here’s the objective we want. And then people, once they have the competency to participate effectively can say, Hey, I intend to, um, I intend to leave, take the ship out of port. Okay, great. Did you, do you know, did you do all the things necessary to take a ship out of port? You know, and once that trust is in place, then the commander’s like, okay, you know, either go for it or, uh, ask some questions. Yep.

Simon Holzapfel: [21:12] And, and the T word, the trust word is really what gets you from older structures to new structures. If you can’t get to that trust, nothing will work. Pull will not work in the absence of trust. And so if you think about, you know, management, it’s always like, I’m going to look over your shoulder. You’re going to fill out your TPS report. Did you do your 42? You know, you know, if you’re in school, did you do your 82 conjugations of this verb? It’s fundamentally sort of trust-ish, but always verify. And that often doesn’t feel like trust.

Dan Neumann: [21:46] Yeah. Yeah. The trust, but verify is exactly the phrase that came to mind. And, um, what’s the alternative than to trust with verify. Cause you do need assurance or confidence that things are functioning well.

Simon Holzapfel: [22:00] Yup. And that’s what the sprint reviews for, and you make your work visible and you show it to people and you talk about it. So to me, visibility, visibility is the trust builder.

Dan Neumann: [22:10] When you tell people in Sprint, Scrum does this, so lots of agile frameworks scrum specifically than the one you’re referencing as here’s where we’re going, here’s where we believe we’re going to be as, as more of a forecast. And then rapid feedback loops. Look, here’s where we got. And then transparency on here are the issues maybe we’re running into and where we could use some help from the senior leaders.

Simon Holzapfel: [22:34] Yep. And that’s exactly what a good teacher does as well. Right? The, our best teachers make a really feedback rich environment. So we can learn quickly. The worst teachers take our essay, sit on it for two weeks, scribble on and hand it back to us and we’ve basically forgotten most of it. And then it’s useless to both of us.

Dan Neumann: [22:52] Yeah. Teaching is a job I would never have survived in. At least not traditional teaching. Right. Agile still has a lot of teaching components to it. Um, and typically the people that attend a scrum training or an agile training, hopefully they’re motivated to be engaged and to participate. Um, but not always the case in traditional head. Yeah. So, not all organizations are going to get to teal, not all of them really want to. Right. And so I think you were talking about some interesting things where you’re, uh, helping students learn to maybe form organizations that are not red, yellow, orange entities. Right. So instead of saying, Hey, go in and be the change agent and, you know, get this multibillion dollar multinational corporation to see the, and become teal. Like you can try that it’s, it’s an option. Um, but then you’re also helping them, um, with some other options. I thought maybe it would be interesting to share that for a little bit.

Simon Holzapfel: [23:59] Yeah. For sure. That’d BU project and that sort of stuff. Yeah.

Dan Neumann: [24:03] Yeah. Well, I wasn’t sure if exactly it was the BU project. It’s a Boston University.

Simon Holzapfel: [24:07] Yes. Yeah. So, um, there’s guy, Jim Hannon up at Boston University has been there for a while. Um, and he has kind of through his magical powers assembled that just incredible cast of characters who are the Boston University, agile innovation lab. And collectively, what we’re trying to do is really bring, uh, authentic agile to the world, um, including actual college students. And so what we’re trying to do is meet them where they are with the interests that they have not trying to compete with school. Cause they’re there, you know, for the most part for school, they want that diploma. That diploma is an instrumental goal of theirs. That’s a reasonable goal, it’s an important goal. Um, so we want to be sort of a compliment and not compete directly against school. So we try to work in other ways at other times of year, like summer or, um, through student organizations, student government to just sort of spread the, spread the word about other ways of organizing themselves in their work. Um, and this may be way too much of a tangent, but I’ll just, um, offer one observation about how much of these values resonate with them. And this comes from a conversation that I had with my son about video games, he’s 15. And he was telling me about in video game design, there’s this thing called the Meta. Is that a familiar thing? I had never heard of the Meta.

Dan Neumann: [25:31] Oh, I think my kid would know cause he’s, he’s all into the video games, but tell me about the meta.

Simon Holzapfel: [25:36] This was new to me. So the Meta is essentially, um, the sort of game, uh, environment. And so you can have a game that has a very skewed Meta, which means only a particular sort of person is going to be effective in that game. So in the real world, basketball is a sport where the Meta strongly forbids most people from participating well, cause they’re just not tall. Um, but that sort of thing. So he’s like the games that are most popular are the ones that have the most open level meta. When the game designer starts screwing around with the meta of the game and they introduce new characters or new features that really distort that people hate that. And so I have this hypothesis that, that sort of interest in a equitable Meta or an open Meta, these young people carry around all the time. And so they’re going to be particularly disposed to things like agility, where the Meta is much more open and sort of even to all, as opposed to meta where if you’re whiter or more male or straighter have a deeper voice, you’ve got these sort of unfair advantages. Um, and so I think that, you know, agile education and these sort of teal organizations have a meta, that’s going to be just more attractive to people and will actually grow faster once people see it sort of in action more.

Dan Neumann: [27:00]
I’m trying to remember which particular mental, um, characteristic, a lot of, a lot of CEOs have. It’s not psychopath, but it’s um, yeah, it’s in the ballpark. No, it’s, you’re talking about the Meta and it’s hopefully, hopefully the right one comes. Cause I need to say all psychopath when really you’re a, um, you know, something else. But, um, but these structures reward people in a lot of, a lot of those things that I think kind of the red, the yellow, and even the orange, they reward people who can manipulate and collect power and then people go, I want to move up in this organization. Oh, I see we do that through manipulation and power collection. And so it’s a self reinforcing structure, which I think is the meta of the video game you were talking about.

Simon Holzapfel: [27:46] Yes. Precisely. I mean, Jack Welch would, what was proudly red, right? It’s like, we’re going, gonna, we’re going to just literally farce off, down on the bottom, 10% of people again, making that sort of logical, go ahead.

Dan Neumann: [28:00] Psychotic. That’s what, that’s the, that’s the mental characteristic or a defect is that some people want to be right. And Jack Welch, right. Hey, we’re going to stack rank. People are gonna chop the bottom 10% off every year. That sounds safe.

Simon Holzapfel: [28:12] That’s the most stressful, most fear based way to get AH behavior that you can design.

Dan Neumann: [28:18]
Yeah. That’s wild. Um,

Simon Holzapfel: [28:21] And look at where GE is now. Like, I mean, clearly it was not a durable, not a durable path.

Dan Neumann: [28:26] No, but it’s, I’m guessing it’s still taught in a lot of business schools, like the GE way, you know, but the world’s moved on, uh, hopefully, uh, but those systems are still reinforcing that Meta is still there and in education and in big organizations. And so you folks, um, like you said, authentic agility, which I think is a nice adjective to add there because I’ve seen some agile organizations, you know, as you look at your, the visual you refer to and it’ll be in the show notes has agile and lean kind of in the green. And I’ve seen a lot of agile in green, um, coding over really command and control structures inside the, they use the right words. But you peek under the, under the covers, if you will not.

Simon Holzapfel: [29:13] You can feel it, that, that, that is a different feeling, you know, interaction.

Dan Neumann: [29:20] That’s interesting. So you’re exposing kids to some alternatives and of course they have to kind of walk both worlds then the, um, the higher institution, not teal. And you’re trying to introduce them into some teal structures.

Simon Holzapfel: [29:32] That’s right. And, and it’s not. And so I’m not trying to sort of, and we’re not trying to dis school school is great. I love school. School is good to me. It was my employer for a long time. It’s just to say, school is an older, archaic form. And we see it in COVID times now, you know, schools really have a lot of work to do to get themselves, you know, it’s like, it is time to inspect and adapt people. Yeah.

Dan Neumann: [29:59] Like you were talking about the teams creating value in those teams. There’s not just the teachers and the administrators and the student, but then you’ve got the parents and the environment those students might be in. I’m here in South bend Indiana in the U S and we’ve got a small private school where you would think that the students are generally well off. Many of them are, but some of them aren’t. And so even in that bubble of what you would think of as well off private school students, uh, the professors are finding out that some of these people don’t have laptops. They don’t have internet connection that’s reliable. And I think one of them said like 40% of their students don’t have reliable home internet. And so covert has taken them out of the private institution college bubble that they’re in, stuck them back at home and said, Oh, no, we expect you to also be successful. That’s a tall order to shift from red to yellow, orange to teal.

Simon Holzapfel: [30:58] Truly. Yeah. Yep. I would say that just in terms of, you know, agile, agile in education, we have some wonderful examples of people who are really kicking butt in this area. Um, there’s this guy, Willie Widens at a school called EDU Scrum, EDU, S C R U M in the Netherlands. And they, they run EDU Scru, that they’re literally running Scrum teams in school. School is made of scrum teams. And his graduates, um, are consistently recruited by the top firms in the Netherlands. Many of them will not go to other places because they suck. Um, and you know, these are students who, I’m sure there’s some self selection bias within the numbers, but these schools finish their state curriculum early. They, they test extremely well. Um, and so, you know, part of what trying to do at the BU innovation lab is to get more people aware of this, so that they’re themselves demanding it because if the students start to demand it and they can see this other option, they’re going to pull that in and schools being where they are and needing to respond to students, they’re gonna, you know, that I think that will be the best change path out there is for agilists to really want to evangelize, to start showing young people that there’s a different, better way before they get, you know, poisoned or demented by the, you know, workforce too much, um, and are able to themselves start teal organizations, be particularly well suited to join dealer organizations, or just get wherever they get and show people, you know, ways that they might enjoy their work better.

Dan Neumann: [32:28] That’s that’s very cool. So, you know, finding this way to create an alternative and build on that. And of course, some changes like that take a long time, but it’s nice to see those, those seeds planted in some results coming out of that. All right. Well, um, thank you for taking time out of your day here, Simon, to share about teal organizations and, um, exploring education and the times of COVID, which I know is pretty weird. I’ve got a 20 year old college student in the house because the university said don’t come to campus. And so it’s, yeah, it’s the, the learning processes that disrupted all the social stuff is disrupted. And, um, you know, hopefully this, this shift towards more teal types of, um, approaches with a lot of organizations will be helpful.

Simon Holzapfel: [33:19] Yeah. And if you, if you have listeners that are interested in, you know, in this sort of stuff, um, we’re having a conference October 23, 24, it’s all virtual and online. So it doesn’t cost you anything about your time. And it’s, if you just gotta BU agile lab, you can see the, uh, you know, to our website. You can see that conference October 23, 24. We hope folks who are parents or in education or are just, you know, wanting to spread the word.

Dan Neumann: [33:44] Well, uh, we’ll sign up. That’s wonderful. Thank you for saying so bu agile I believe so. Yep. We’ll put a link to that in the show notes, we’ll put a link to the, uh, the Lulu, uh, PDF, which L A L O U X, if people are trying to Google that on their own, I would have got that horribly wrong. And, um, yeah, maybe help spread the word a little bit about teal. Wonderful. Thanks again, Simon. Appreciate it.

Simon Holzapfel: [34:11] I really appreciate it. I love your show. Keep doing the good work.

Dan Neumann: [34:14] And thanks for reaching out. It’s like we usually, you know, we, the invitation for people to reach out is open often. It’s do you have a question, but if you know, people are doing or know of something really cool that’s happening. We’d love to explore that too. Thanks Simon.

Simon Holzapfel: [34:27] Thank you.

Outro: [34:29] This has been the Agile Coaches’ Corner podcast brought to you by AgileThought. The views, opinions and information expressed in this podcast are solely those of the hosts and the guests, and do not necessarily represent those of AgileThought. Get the show notes and other helpful tips for this episode and other episodes at

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