New Ways Of Thinking

As everybody is surely aware by now, big things are afoot in how we think about work and management. Agile has spilled out of IT into the enterprise. Complex systems theory is finally shifting how we think. Safety culture is revealing the value in failure. Less widely known (yet), Open culture is flipping the hierarchy. As well there's ideas like servant manager, transformational leader, open space, invitational leadership, promise theory, sustainability, and more... They all aim for “better value sooner, safer, happier” as Jon Smart put it. The world seems to still lump it all under the term "Agile Enterprise". We simply call them the New Ways of Working, or Human Systems Agility:

    Human: people, humanity, wholeness, culture, sharing, empathy, diversity, inclusiveness, egality, trust, integrity, authenticity, open, transparency, curiosity, learning, mastery, pride, empowerment, freedom, authorisation, servant manager, safety, wellbeing, health. [states]
    Systems: customer, value, flow, feedback, quality, lean, streams, iteration, networks, complexity, chaos, emergence, antifragile, shift left, teams, organisation, collaboration, ritual, sharing, resilience, human error, holistic, data, science. [artefacts]
    Agility: ambiguous, uncertain, iterate, increment, experiment, explore, observe, adjust, fluid, organic, improve, curious, embrace failure, fail fast, small, granular, simplify, flexible, pragmatic. [actions/adjectives]
    from our book

This thinking is transforming IT, enterprises, government, and society. Its impact is far reaching enough to talk of it as a renaissance in thinking, a refresh or step change that comes only once or twice a century. This is not an exaggeration.

“The 21st Century is a different game with different rules… The pursuit of efficiency was once a laudable goal, but being effective in today’s world is less a question of optimizing for a known (and relatively stable) set of variables than responsiveness to a constantly shifting environment. Adaptability, not efficiency, must become our central competence.”
- Gen. Stanley McChrystal

These concepts that Teal Unicorn deals with, in advancing enterprise work and management (especially management), rise from an even deeper philosophical shift which we are not qualified to discuss in depth. But we see the new thinking everywhere, so this page points to a few models we know of, which all point to this renaissance, this flip, step-change, new age... Social thinking is crossing a boundary (and just in time, looking at world politics). Feminism, diversity, egality, socialism, empowerment, digital, virtual, complexity, networks, ... so many powerful forces are at play.

You don't need to embrace a religion, or worse still the antiscience of the counter culture, in order to grow into these higher-level concepts. They're the future of humanity. The future is already here, it is just not evenly distributed. We see it everywhere, it has been arriving for decades.

Some models that all indicate a phase change, a crossing of a boundary, a new age, are:

    Game A / Game B

    Modelling changing social behaviour based on complexity theory.

    Wilber's Integral Theory

    (popularised by Laloux. Wilber et al used several different sets of colors, we use the one Laloux did. Don't @ us.)

    Graves' first- and second-tier

    Graves, Wilber, and a umber of others collaborated. This was one of Graves' contributions.

    Theory X / Theory Y

    Two modes of management

    Alpha and Beta management

    The same two modes of management, framed differently.

    Values over value

    Friedmanism caused great harm to corporate ethics. It needs to be rejected.

    The Age of Aquarius

    Slightly tongue in cheek, but even the hippies of the 60s saw The Times They Are a Changin'.

As well as many models which point to the concept of a flip, moving into a new phase, there is another concept that emerges everywhere: the reunification (in the West) of Science, Art, and Ethics - of truth, beauty, and goodness - which parted ways in the Enlightenment, when Truth rose above all.

This comes out in

We are not here to say any or all of these models are accurate. All models are wrong, some are useful. And there is a lot of bullshit peddled in their names, especially antiscience. In fact it is hard to find material about some of these models, e.g. Integral, that isn't steeped in nonsense. The point is that it is evident that something big is going on across society, and overall it looks positive.

It is an optimistic view of human evolution, which is entirely justified based on historical data: humanity gets better. Across the world, organisations and societies are primarily competitive capitalist green with a few pioneering into teal, and a larger long tail spreading all the way back through orange and red to primal magenta (or grey, or whatever, models aren't consistent). It is a rising bubble of social progress. Hans Rosling taught us to see the trends.

We embrace that view. We look at what it means to be a "small-a-agile" manager in these New Ways of Working and Managing in our new book, The agile Manager .

What did we miss? Any more?

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