Management Evolution throughout Human Society Development

Mark Bridges
4 min readDec 28, 2022

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Organizational Development has progressed with the evolution of human civilization. Anthropological study has identified at least 5 major organizational systems throughout human history.

Professionals have offered numerous explanations for this phenomenon. In 2014, Frederic Laloux started investigating flourishing companies whose management style separated them from other corporations. Prior to settling on 10, Laloux examined a large number of organizations. In terms of creating corporate procedures and structures, the chosen organizations were the most creative.

Employing Ken Wilbur’s concept of using colors to depict the non-linear history of human civilizations, Laloux identified the various phases of management evolution.

Red, Amber, Orange, Green, and Teal have been used to depict 5 Organizational Development stages that correlate to the emergence of human civilization.

Let’s go a little deeper into the 5 types of organizations.

Red

The 1st stage of organizational development is characterized by the leader’s constant exercise of power to preserve unity among the foot soldiers. The company places a premium on responsiveness and promptness. This managerial style flourishes in chaotic circumstances.

Division of Labor and Command Authority were major advancements in this kind of organizations.

Humans at this stage of evolution have a propensity to see the world as an inhospitable place where only the powerful or those they protect have their needs met.

Amber

The 2nd stage of Organizational Development is defined by specific duties within a pyramidal structure. In such a system, the flow of command and control is top-down. In this method of management, the future is a repetition of the past. Formal roles, i.e. hierarchies, and processes that are stable and repeatable, are key breakthroughs at this level. Institutions such as the Catholic Church and the Military are examples.

Orange

At the 3rd stage of organizational development, the purpose of management is to achieve growth and profit while overcoming rivals. The management style is characterized by Management By Objectives (M.B.O.); wherein what must be done is regulated, but how it must be performed is left up to the doer. Global companies and charter schools are examples of this stage.

Green

In this phase, the emphasis is on improving employee motivation via culture and competence. Stakeholders are now the major operational motivation, replacing stockholders. Postmodernism ushered in the Green period, which emphasizes collaboration over competition and seeks Equality, Solidarity, and Tolerance.

Teal

In this stage of management’s evolution, self-management has replaced the hierarchical pyramid. Organizations are seen as living units that strive to reach their full potential.

Interested in learning more about 5 Stages of Management Evolution, particularly about Teal Management? You can download an editable PowerPoint presentation on 5 Stages of Management Evolution here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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Organizational Design (AKA Organizational Re-design) involves the creation of roles, processes, and structures to ensure that the organization’s goals can be realized. Organizational Design span across various levels of the organization. It includes:

1. The overall organizational “architecture” (e.g. decentralized vs. centralized model).

2. The design of business areas and business units within a larger organization.

3. The design of departments and other sub-units within a business unit.

4. The design of individual roles.

In the current Digital Age, there is an accelerating pace of strategic change driven by the disruption of industries. As a result, to remain competitive, Organizational Design efforts are becoming more frequent and pervasive — with the majority of organizations having experienced redesign within the past 3 years. This has only been exacerbated by COVID-19.

Frustratingly, only less than a quarter of these Organizational Design efforts are successful. Most organizations lack the best practice know-how to guide them through these Transformations effectively.

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Mark Bridges

I blog about various management frameworks, from Strategic Planning to Digital Transformation to Change Management. https://flevy.com