Teal diary week #2: Seeing past our fears

Fear only rules us if we let it …

Last week, Tom posted an article about Folk becoming a teal organisation. So, what’ve we learned in seven days?

To sum it up in one sentence: We’re beginning to see past our own fears and patterns.

We’re learning to embrace and celebrate confusion, and the unknown. Sounds a bit weird, I suppose. But, we’re all conditioned to avoid, or at least minimise confusion. We spend our lives trying to be certain, to know what’s going to happen next. We’re experts in doing this, and we all sit in meetings pretending we’re absolutely certain about all sorts of things.

But we’re not. It’s an illusion, and what the tealward move is showing us is that uncertainty is okay. It actually helps us to become better, faster, and more connected as an organisation. The realisation many of us have come to is that our aversion to uncertainty is what limits true potential, creativity, and connection. By championing certainty, we let fear call the shots.

Let me give you an example.

One person, a long time Folk ‘manager’, found himself fundamentally questioning his worth now he was free of his management title. He was confused about his contribution to the business, and felt like he didn’t know whether he was worth his wage. And he wasn’t the only one. Anyway, we chatted. I asked him about his purpose, his experience, our purpose, and how to be most effective for our clients. Lightbulb moment.

Teal isn’t anarchy, or a flat hierarchy, or even consensus building. Teal is about contribution to a greater purpose - and an understanding that no-one is ever really right, or certain. Some people may have more experience or influence, but they still don’t know for sure. This gives everyone the freedom and permission to participate and contribute. And this is what it’s all about. The work. We’re not ridding ourselves of a job title to be a ‘cool, happy-clappy creative agency’. We’re relinquishing ourselves of the need to be told what we do, by whom, so that we can be fucking good at what we do for our clients. We’re doing this to shift the mindset from: ‘I do this’, to: ‘Is this the right thing to do?’.

I don’t want to get paid to pretend I know, I want to be paid to disrupt, transform, and make a difference. I want to challenge the certain in other organisations to really understand and craft things that mean something to people. Our strategies and solutions are not based on assumptions, but on the uncertain; on the emotional, intangible, ever-changing behaviour of real people out there in the world. Only by beginning to peel away those layers of conditioning can we really allow ourselves to know others. Then we can build and make things that matter.

We can see early on that those conversations and opinions about job titles are part of the game.  But they’re not the important the issue here, really.  It’s much deeper, much more human and much more emotional. Teal is total, personal acceptance and integration into an organisation. Hierarchy is present, but it’s on another level. There’s an unwritten freedom… and it’s within this freedom that you’ll find Folk’s heightened state of accountability.

So, confusion is everywhere at Folk at the moment. And from this confusion, we’re asking, ‘Is that the best way?’, ‘Why do we do it that way?’ … Is it coincidence that our productivity is up, new opportunities, and partnerships are up, and team morale is up? I don’t think so, but I won’t claim to know for sure. Then I’ll get too comfortable, and stop loving the chaos.

If you’re interested in our journey, I’d love to hear from you. Drop an email to jo@wearefolk.com.

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to chatting to you next week.