Teal, Organizational Acupuncture

Some years ago, I had a dislocated jaw and could no longer open my mouth for more than one centimeter. That means no solid food or toothbrush could enter my mouth. I was referred to an oral surgeon who told me upon careful examination: “A surgery can help you, but only recover 80% of your original function. It would take six months to recover, during which time you must rely on liquid food. And the cost of the surgery is $16,000.”

Not convinced it was my only option, I visited an acupuncturist. He quickly concluded: “Oh, this is easy.” After four of 30 minutes treatments in one week, my jaw was fully recovered. No 6 months of suffering, no liquid food and my total cost was only $160.

Interestingly, this experience perfectly illustrates the difference (cost and benefit) between conventional management and Teal self-management. Teal is a simple and elegant way to achieve more with less work.

Surgery, in this case, is based on the assumption – the human body is a collection of separate mechanical parts. When malfunction, it requires external intervention. To become a consummate problem solver, the surgeon had to work hard, mastering his skills and perfecting his tools. So he could fix the problem and make these “mechanical parts” work together again.

Acupuncture is based on a different assumption – a human body is designed to be healthy and is a holistic system guided by an inner wisdom. When malfunction, it is because the energy flow (the Chi) is blocked. The symptom is simply a way the body communicates with us: “I am out of balance!” By unblocking the energy path and bringing the body to balance, healing occurs naturally.

There is an emotional energy flowing in every human being and in every organization. When it is blocked, we experience stress, disengagement, burnout, and workplace politics – all of which are symptoms of an unbalanced system. Our usual response? Fix the symptoms with external solutions such as organizational restructuring, team building exercises or new employee incentives. In other words, we perform surgery after surgery without touching the core of the problem.

Teal takes a holistic perspective, like acupuncture, and creates conditions for balance in people and organizations. It recognizes each person, organization and society as a complete eco-system yet an integrated part of each other. The wellbeing of an organization is depended on the collective well-being of its people and the harmony with its customers, suppliers, investors and society.

In essence, the key of a successful transformation to Teal is mindset change – from fragmented perspective to holistic perspective; from short-term to long-term; from being reactive (fire-fighting) to being proactive; from looking outward for solutions to looking inward for wisdom. When conditions for balance are established, individuals flourish naturally, so does the organization.

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