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Organizational life can be dispiriting for employees. Many people take little satisfaction in their jobs and managerial efforts to fix corporate culture often create problems. But companies can make life more gratifying for their people by reaching for a new developmental stage based on trust and collaboration. Organizational iconoclast Frederic Laloux explains how organizations evolved over time in line with seven historic stages of human development, expressed as color-tagged “paradigms.” He outlines two modern paradigms as models for creating a supportive corporate culture and earning solid profits as well. getAbstract recommends his unusual encyclopedic manual of organizational evolution as a menu of ideas for leaders seeking a collaborative path to profit.


Organizations in History

Through the centuries, organizations have made major contributions to humanity’s betterment, including extending life spans, eliminating deadly diseases, making education available, and developing remarkable products and services that improve life and make it more enjoyable. Now organizations dominate the way human society is structured.

Organizational models and human consciousness evolved over time in seven stages:

  1. “Reactive-Infrared Paradigm” – This represents humanity’s earliest stage, dating back to 100,000 to 50,000 BC, when people banded together in small family groups.
  2. “Magic-Magenta Paradigm” – About 15,000 years ago, people assembled into tribes of about 200 people each. To make sense of the world, they engaged in rituals and followed the leadership of shamans and elders.
  3. “Impulsive-Red Paradigm” – Around 10,000 years ago, “chiefdoms and proto-empires” formed “Red Organizations” in the form of marauding armies. Today’s Red Organizations are “street gangs and mafias.” They stay relatively small, and their leaders exert fearsome authority. Red Organizations...

About the Author

Frederic Laloux advises corporate leaders on achieving organizational efficiency and facilitates implementation of new organizational schemas. He formerly worked at McKinsey & Company.

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