Can you invent Tier 2 organizations without being embedded in an ecology/economy of Tier 1 organizations?

Spiral of Oranizations (Adapted from Spiral Dynamics, Beck & Cowan, 1996)

Dojos of Oranizations (Adapted from Spiral Dynamics, Beck & Cowan, 1996)

As I consider how Reinventing Organizations casts light on Reinventing the City, I am speculating that so-called Tier 2 organizations cannot exist without the competencies of the workers and capacities of the Tier 1 organizations in which they are currently and necessarily embedded.

All the organizations that Laloux explores have gained their capacities from the contributions of individuals who have learned basic skills and grown their capacities to organize, team, partner and collaborate in the Tier 1 system.

If we fail to recognize the essential “background” support of this ecological space (of the city) we will be blind to the functions offered by the city as a living system. The city is like a mega-dojo where players can learn their way through a series of organizational practices that earns them the privilege and freedom to articulate those competencies like a black-belt master (and thereby Reinvent Organizations). In most cities, a whole spectrum of Tier 1 organizations offer a series of dojos where players can learn the rudiments of reinventing themselves, their teams and organizational forms. If for no other reason than to gain the advantages of building on our skill sets we must thank the spectrum (and holarchy) of Tier 1 organizations that co-exist in our cities who accomplish these competency outcomes as a by-product of their existence.  (Thank you to families, sports teams, military and para-military organizations, professional associations, social networks, systems innovators, environmental invigorators, global connectors).

All living systems must be able to survive, connect with their environment and reproduce. (These are axiomatic to a circular economy). If we consider organizations to be living systems, then we must recognize the necessary and inextricable connections each organization has with all the other organizations and people that exist where they do business – especially because they provide the very context of (mostly) Tier 1 (and a few Tier 2) capabilities.

We cannot reinvent the city, if we do not respect the fundamentals of the circular economy and the dojos where the members of our human hive learn how to manage self, others, organizations and the city system as a whole.


This blog continues an exploration of what we can learn if we applied some of Laloux’s ideas from Reinventing Organizations to recalibrating the complexity of the city.

Eleven organizations contributed to the research behind the book Reinventing Organizations, by author Frederic Laloux.  If so few organizations passed the filter of Tier 2 qualifications will we have to wait centuries for enough organizations to mature to this stage before we can reinvent our cities?

Upside Down City

That is a sobering thought – and one that should motivate us to get on with the work of growing our capacities as individual leaders and redesigning our organizations so that we can expand the circles of care and thrivability from Tier 1 to Tier 2.

But the Integral City has three natural Strategic Intelligences that can accelerate the maturing processes of organizations and communities – the WE space of the city.

  1. Inquiry Intelligence opens us up to learning, discovery and innovation.
  2. Meshworking Intelligence creates the conditions where self-organizing capacities in the city combine with structuring capacities to create a scaffold that enables a hierarchy of complex organizations and individuals to co-create a resilient ecology.
  3. Navigating Intelligence gives us the systemic feedback that lets us know if we are proceeding in the right direction to achieve our Purpose (and correct our course of action in order to achieve our intended goals).

Reinvented Organizations can play special roles as actors, agents and catalysts of Strategic Intelligences within their cities of operation.

As Inquirers, they can take the lead in “calling the question” – How can we do this differently (e.g. redesign a mature neighbourhood). Who else should be here? How can we call the 4 Voices of the City into this conversation?

As Meshworkers, they can call together the 4 voices of the City (Citizens, Civic Managers, Civil Society, Business) and help other organizations, economic sectors and communities identify the Purpose that they serve in common. They can facilitate and/or call in facilitators who can help reveal the life conditions and align the values of the community for resilient outcomes.

As Navigators, they can co-create feedback loops that inform everyone of the city’s progress, through designing Vital Signs Monitors that track wellbeing and resilience for communities and the city.

If City Halls, as key organizations in the City Voices we call Civic Managers, choose to reinvent themselves, they can quicken the reinvention of the whole city. City Halls who reinvent how they conduct the business of the city, must draw on the Strategic Intelligences of an Integral City either implicitly or explicitly.  If you want to look at how one city has chosen to implement such a strategy to reinvent its mature neighbourhoods – look at how Strathcona has implemented Integral City Strategic Intelligences, engaging facilitators to engage the 4 Voices of the City to complete the groundwork that may incubate the reinvention of the city as a whole.

Pioneering projects like Strathcona Mature Neighbourhood Strategy, are necessary models, for us to learn the early stages of how applying Integral City Strategic Intelligences, in the service of reinventing organizational patterns can reinvent the city.


This blog continues an exploration of what we can learn if we applied some of Laloux’s ideas from Reinventing Organizations to recalibrating the complexity of the city.

What is an organic strategy?

 City Meshwork

Reinventing Organizations, author Frederic Laloux differentiates Tier 2 organizations from Tier 1 in the ways that they relate to strategy.

Tier 1 organizations interpret strategy from the perspective of a worldview that uses strategy to produce results. Strategy arises from intentions to produce profitable bottom lines. Priorities tend to be profit and productivity driven with a focus on producing returns for shareholders.

As Tier 1 organizations mature, they expand the beneficiaries of operation from shareholders to stakeholders. Stakeholders generally include clients, employees, suppliers and in the most progressive organizations, also the community. These progressive organizations often use forms of Balanced Scorecards to track the effectiveness and efficiency of their strategic intentions (using selective indicators to measure the attainment of targeted outputs and outcomes).

Successful Tier 1 organizations may grow their spheres of influence from local to regional to continental to global. But as Tier 1 organizations their strategies are primarily focused in the systems and structures of the Lower Right (LR) quadrant.

Organizations who mature into Tier 2 organizations build on this LR performance platform and expand the understanding and implementation of strategy so that it integrates all 4 quadrants of reality. These organizations wake up to the impact they have through “liberating their corporate soul”. They come to realize that their Values (Lower Left) forms their Vision (Upper Left) and in turn their Mission (Upper Right) and that all of these realities co-arise with the Systems and Structures (LR) that manifest their organizational contribution to the city, eco-region, nation(s) and world.

Tier 2 organizational strategy also aligns Purpose, Priorities, People and Planet in a vertical trajectory – so that each of these become foundational values systems that support and grow one another in not just a logical sequence but an organic complexity hierarchy. This alignment of organic values systems expands the context and the complexity of the strategy beyond being organization and market centred to being ecologically, globally and life centred. These Tier 2 organizations see their operations as organic contributions in service to Life on this Planet.

Reinventing Organizations traces the processes, structures and patterns that eleven Tier 2 organizations (operating as living systems) have discovered. Laloux proposes that such organizations have strategies that have arisen organically amongst the people inside the organization as well as amongst the stakeholders served outside the organization. These organizational (or organic) relationships enable a recalibration of the organizational stakeholders into “steward holders”. Steward holders operate from the principles of living systems and have the capacity to respond and adapt to changing life conditions in flexible and non-linear ways. Thus their organic strategies are not based on fixed methods and goals, but can and do express themselves as systems of co-creative response to life conditions.

If we want to reinvent cities as evolutionary, integral, living systems, can we imagine that possibility without reinventing core systems of organizations with Tier 2 capacities who co-develop organic strategies that enable steward holding not only for themselves as organizations but in service to the City and its Purpose? If we think of the Integral City itself as a living system, it is natural to consider that it would have “organs” – or organizations – that enable it to function as an organic living system (the most complex system yet created by humans).

If we follow the lessons of organic systems, then I think we can also consider that the fractal patterns from the Tier 2 organizations will be critical to the Integral City aligning its Purpose, Priorities, People and Planet capacities.  And the only way an Integral City can develop a strategy for thriving at this level of complexity is using the self-organizing intelligences of people and the stabilizing (but organic) strategies of Tier 2 organizations in relation to each other. We call such a dynamic but strategic relationship a meshwork.


This blog continues an exploration of what we can learn if we applied some of Laloux’s ideas from Reinventing Organizations to recalibrating the complexity of the city.

Reinventing Organizations at the second tier rests on a core organizational process that is centered on Purpose.

On Purpose Organizations - What if They Connected?

On Purpose Organizations – What if They Connected?

When organizations are seen as living entities within an evolutionary worldview, it is natural that they discover the Purpose that they are alive to serve. Organizationally they are answering the question: How does our organization serve what customers, located where, for what Purpose?

This Purpose emerges from fitting the organization’s function to serve a larger ecology of organizations. Such an ecology is usually called an “economy”, but from Integral City’s perspective this ecology is the city itself. The ecology is made up of the 4 Voices of the City dynamically interacting with each other as an evolutionary living system.

If we are using the fractal patterns of living systems to notice the scaling role of Purpose, we can see that at the micro-scale, individuals within the city also enact a Purpose. (We have written about the interconnections of Purpose, Passion, Priorities and Prosperity here.)

When we tap into the wisdom of living systems through the science of biomimicry, we can relate Purpose at the macro or city scale – what I call the “Human Hive” – to the function that the beehive serves within its eco-regional ecology. The beehive seems to have evolved the Purpose of pollinating and recycling the biological energy sources from which it gathers the raw ingredients (nectar and pollen) to produce the 40 pounds of honey that it needs to sustain itself.

Within the city, organizations emerge at the meso-scale, because individuals organize themselves to serve a Purpose together. At the second tier evolutionary stage, Laloux suggests that, the organization is not merely formed to work for efficiencies, effectiveness, productivity or social enterprise – but for a Purpose that is evolutionary.

Laloux proposes that organizations with a second tier Purpose act as if competition is irrelevant. So-called competitors – aka other organizations – have their own Purposes. All can co-exist in the organizational ecology/economy to pursue Purposes that support life.

We can notice organizations have entered this stage of evolution, when we see that most people in the organization are acting as sensors (to the inner and outer environments). They are asking the question – What is happening in here and out there that we need to be aware of? Individual actions are subsumed into large group processes – where collective intelligence can emerge and we discover that the multiple sensors, sensing each other, expand the base of intelligence that we work from.

Within organizations who are operating on Purpose, individual inner intelligence-processes are encouraged and enabled through shared cultural practices like meditations, guided visualizations, visioning and values discoveries.

At the same time the organization becomes spontaneously able to respond to requests and prompts from the outside world. This happens at every level of the organization because the Purpose is a shared intelligence throughout the organization.

When I consider the possibility of many organizations working on Purpose within a city, it becomes conceivable that they might work together towards an even higher Purpose. What would happen if many organizations within the city, discovered they could embrace a Purpose for the city itself?

What are the evolutionary stages that individual cities progress through in order to discover that they serve an evolutionary Purpose that might be in service to the whole Planet (and in fact, a whole Planet of cities)?

Can we reinvent cities to serve such a planetary life-giving Purpose, without Reinventing Organizations with a Purpose, who then connect with each other through a group Purpose, as a necessary precursor to seeding On-Purpose cities?


This blog continues an exploration of what we can learn if we applied some of Laloux’s ideas from Reinventing Organizations to recalibrating the complexity of the city.

How might Integral City learn from an integrally informed re-frame of Reinventing Organizations?


Reinventing Organizations

Reinventing Organizations


Frederic Laloux’s book of that title, examines the emergence of integral organizations (Teal in Wilber- Integral lexicon, Yellow in Spiral Dynamics integralese). Laloux’s exploration of Reinventing Organizations is based on research in eleven organizations who are demonstrating the qualities and capacities of second tier operations.

From the perspective of Integral City this is excellent news. Organizations are vital to recalibrating three of the four voices in the city – Civic Managers, Civil Society and Business. And if that kind of recalibration were possible, the ripple effects would necessarily engage the fourth Citizen Voice because the majority of citizens are working in one or more of the “organizing voices”.

So Reinventing Organizations offers a meso scale of impact with enormous leverage for changing the whole system of the city. It seems to me that Reinventing Organizations offers a fractal resonance to the larger scale of the city, where learning within organizations and between organizations will necessarily shift the complexity of the city upwards towards the emergence of an Integral City, operating with all its evolutionary intelligences.

Now I am curious if we change 10% of the city’s key organizations would that be the tipping point for shifting the whole city into Integral City operational territory?

 This blog marks the start of an exploration of what we can learn if we applied some of Laloux’s ideas from Reinventing Organizations to recalibrating the complexity of the city.

This is a re-publication of an article by Keith Rice, published in Eros and Kosmos, August, 2014.
It offers an explanation of the Contexting and Strategic Intelligences that lie behind the article I wrote on City Trigger Points, Country Tipping Points  also published in Eros and Kosmos.
Obamaputin blog
Eugene Pustoshkin, Editor of Eros and Kosmos (the only significant Integral online magazine in the Russian noosphere) explains why this is an important article.
Keith E. Rice wrote upon my request his perspective on Russia/Ukraine and Putin. I value his analysis because it is informed by a good insight into what he terms integrated sociopsychology and includes a Spiral Dynamics Integral perspective. 
Of course, any single perspective is always destined to be limited, however this perspective, I hope, could offer fresh insights and open new dialogues and collective inquiries into the complexities of the occasions that we witness in East Europe which might have global repercussions. …
Blessings, Eugene Pustoshkin, 
Chief Editor, Eros & Kosmos (http://eroskosmos.org)
Keith Rice starts off by saying …
It’s difficult to write an article triggered by, but not about, an ongoing crisis that has no obvious outcome in any predictable timeframe. The Ukrainian army may be gaining ground but the United Nations’ concern about a growing humanitarian crisis may force them to slow down their assaults — perhaps helped by rockets fired at them allegedly from across the Russian border. The brutal fact is that West is not going to go to war over the low-level but brutal civil war in eastern Ukraine. The West is likely to continue to support Kiev diplomatically and with military supplies and intelligence and there will be reluctant incremental upgrades to the European Union sanctions on Russia (and retaliatory Russian sanctions on the West); but no American or European soldiers are going to die for Donetsk or Luhansk, even if there were to be an overt Russian military incursion.

Perhaps the Earth Can Teach Us?

Perhaps the Earth Can Teach Us?


Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.

For once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

Fisherman in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.

Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.

—from Extravagaria (translated by Alastair Reid, pp. 27-29, 1974)



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