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Reimagining the Workplace: Organizational Paradigms

Updated: Oct 16, 2022

By Workplace Peace Institute

Reimagining organizations by devising an innovative model that encourages productive, fulfilled, and engaged employees.

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Organizational Paradigms
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An organization cannot change beyond its existing leadership’s view of the world. – Dr. Robyn Short, CEO

For the past 15 months, businesses have struggled to create pandemic-related practices and policies. Now, as vaccine access increases and companies move forward with reopening their office with in-person attendance, leaders are entering a new era of what it means to maintain an engaged workforce.

Never before in human history have we had people operating from so many different paradigms all living alongside each other. The same is true for organizations: in the same city, if we care to look, we can find Red, Amber, Orange, and Green Organizations working side by side. Frederic Laloux, Reinventing Organizations: A Guide to Creating Organizations Inspired by the Next Stage of Human Consciousness

Organizational Paradigms

Organizational paradigms exist because in the history of the modern workplace, the way we do business has gone through several sequential stages. At each phase, a leap was made in the collective cognitive, moral, and psychological abilities in dealing with one another. Each stage led to new collaborate learnings thus creating new organizational paradigms. The ever-changing phases, however, do not always create revised organizational paradigms to reflect an updated manner of working. Therefore, the existing worldview of an organization often restricts its analysis of themselves and the impact on their employees.

In Reinventing Organizations: A Guide to Creating Organizations Inspired by the Next Stage of Human Consciousness, Frederic Laloux introduces the concept of how organizations have evolved over time and illustrates why organizational color paradigms appear as they do these days. He wonders, “Could we invent a more powerful, more soulful, more meaningful way to work together, if only we change our belief system?”

Revised from Frederic Laloux's Organizational Paradigm Model

The stage through which leadership tends to look at the world is the color paradigm from which the organization operates. This means that an organization cannot evolve beyond its leadership’s stage of development. While one color paradigm is no better than the other (each stage is well adapted to particular contexts and can deal with particular complexities), each step up the color range (RED -> TEAL) encourages an increase in an employee’s engagement and their organization’s success.

Reimagine the Workplace Through a Turquoise Paradigm

The propensity to replicate what is known and familiar, whether it is the characteristics Laloux outlines of a Red paradigm organization or the adoption and creation of the more contemporary Teal paradigm of business, is formidable. Evolving from Laloux foundational work, Workplace Peace Institute introduced a new paradigm, that of the Turquoise organization which extracts the best and most practical aspects of the Green and Teal paradigms. Organizations operating from the Turquoise paradigm are fueled by a focus that allows the company to develop, evolve and grow organically and in alignment with its specific evolutionary purpose and that of the employees. The company is a living, evergreen system that engages in collaboration of management and problem solving between leaders and contributors. The Turquoise paradigm creates an organizational culture that at minimum meets an employee’s basic human needs and dignity as its core mission which in turn leads to improved productivity and revenue; it provides the agency for employees to work as their best selves with decision-making power.

In a Turquoise organization, leaders cultivate. Their focus is on mission management and people development. People, in addition to profit, are at the center of the organization’s purpose which is rooted in the values of peace and dignity for all employees in the workplace. It is up to progressive, innovative leaders to put forward a new model, one necessary for this changing world and its ongoing obstacles to employee engagement and organizational productivity.

As business leaders plan the future for their organizations, they must remember the innate human tendency to rely on existing paradigms and consequently contest the pull to “return to normal.” Future-focused leaders recognize the leap into a new worldview has been made and the need to reimagine the workplace through a revised organizational color paradigm has arrived.

What companies must now ask of themselves is: Will the organizational color paradigms prevalent prior to the pandemic remain unchanged, or will a Turquoise business model that centers human security and dignity as a mechanism for optimizing employee engagement, maximizing organizational productivity, and improving profitability be adopted going forward?

Take your organization toward reimagining the workplace by evaluating its existing paradigm and to explore how to gain experiences with operating through the lens of a Turquoise paradigm, click here.

You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete. – Richard Buckminster Fuller

Workplace Peace Institute is an organizational systems design and research firm that brings a holistic and multidisciplinary approach to organizational development. We support small to mid-sized businesses in optimizing employee engagement, maximizing organizational productivity, and improving profitability by infusing human security and dignity as foundational attributes of their business model.


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