Adaptive, Self-Managing Cultures


Living systems in nature and the species that inhabit them evolve through self-organization and adaptation to changing conditions. Species share resources for the sustenance of all in elegant, continually evolving ecosystems.

In contrast, many human organizations adhere to a belief in scarcity and display the related impulse for internal competition, a downward-spiral pattern that diminishes creativity, creates interpersonal stress, and reduces any organization’s ability to evolve and fulfill its purpose.

Self-management amplifies creativity and reduces stress, improving the health of an organization and the individuals within it. However, the structures, practices, and cultures of fractal organizations are not attainable in organizations where leaders practice predict-and-control management and find that it is still effective for their situations.

On the other hand, leaders who have tired of trying to predict and control outcomes in their organizations and the behavior of their staff members may be ready to try this newest approach to collective endeavors and the healthier, stress-free life that it brings. While transforming an organization that regards itself as a machine into one that performs as a living system is no simple challenge, numerous examples illustrate that this process is exhilirating, surprising, revealing, and rewarding.

Adaptive, self-managing cultures practice respect for individual authority, openness to new ideas, role-based decision making, and open and transparent communication. These characteristics allow greater personal and collective expression, eliminate fear, and enable participants to find creative solutions as the world around them continually changes. The interactive workshops that we offer are based on the research of Frederic Laloux in the seminal work Reinventing Organizations: A Guide to Creating Organizations Inspired by the Next Stage of Human Consciousness. Laloux, a former McKinsey consultant who tired of the politics and dysfunctionality of client organizations, spent two years researching leading-edge organizations, which he labels Evolutionary-Teal, the peak so far in a continuum of human consciousness and evolutionary stages of organization structures, practices, and cultures. Humans in these organizations self-manage, honor the whole individual, and listen to the organization’s larger purpose in the world. These characteristics enable an atmosphere of continuous improvement that is based on constant feedback loops and iterations between organization members and the environment in which they create. The three breakthroughs that this emergent operating system introduces include the following:

  • Structures and processes for self-management
  • Practices for encouraging and honoring the whole individual
  • Ongoing focus and attention upon the evolutionary purpose of the organization

    Contact Janna Raye to schedule a complimentary consultation.


    “It is time to change the way we think about organizations. Organizations are living systems. All living systems have the capacity to self-organize, to sustain themselves and move toward greater complexity and order as needed. They can respond intelligently to the need for change. They organize (and then reorganize) themselves into adaptive patterns and structures without any externally imposed plan or direction.

    Self-organizing systems have what all leaders crave: the capacity to respond continuously to change. In these systems, change is the organizing force, not a problematic intrusion. Structures and solutions are temporary. Resources and people come together to create new initiatives, to respond to new regulations, to shift the organization's processes. Leaders emerge from the needs of the moment. There are far fewer levels of management. Experimentation is the norm. Local solutions predominate but are kept local, not elevated to models for the whole organization. Involvement and participation constantly deepen. These organizations are experts at the process of change. They understand their organization as a process of continuous organizing.” Margaret J. Wheatley and Myron Kellner-Rogers, “The Irresistible Future of Organizing.”