Reinventing work: events explore the shape of business for the future

Hear Nick Parker and Lee Norburn discuss the Reinventing Work programme

Where is your business going? What shape does it need to be in to get there?

These are questions that Nick Parker, Fellow of the RSA, and Lee Norburn from nowlab are exploring to help businesses reinvent themselves for the 21st century. They are now bringing their ‘Reinventing Work’ network to North Devon, starting with four free workshops which business can book for now.

As Nick and Lee say: “Modern organisations have brought about sensational progress for humanity. But, arguably, the current way we run those organisations has been stretched to its limits. We are increasingly disillusioned by organisational life. Many staff, managers, executives, leaders and governance boards report dreading the drudgery and emptiness of working within organisations, rather than experiencing passion and purpose. Power games, politics and infighting take their toll on everyone.

Our network connects and supports organisations as they explore the finding of Frederic Laloux who asks, ‘Could we invent a more powerful, more soulful, more meaningful way to work together, if only we change our belief system?’

Laloux travelled the world visiting organisations that have done just that. Dubbed ‘Teal’ or ‘next stage’ organisations, they have found simple and ingenious ways of thriving with the complexity and ambiguity of our contemporary social and commercial environment. They enable flexibility, creativity and dynamism through distributed leadership rather than hierarchical structure. Most use an advice system for decision making. Endless meetings and consensus are not required. The need for the management function disappears, significantly reducing cost. They adopt near flat structures where the leader holds the space for self-management to emerge and develop. Organisational purpose evolves from within rather than being prescribed by leader(s). They have a sense of wholeness where everyone can be who they are at work rather than wearing a mask or acting out a charade to comply with the organisational status quo.

Staff tend to work in small teams of 12 to 20 with personal and/or electronic communication systems that enable each to communicate effectively with the rest of the organisation. An example of this is Matt Black Systems in Poole, a successful manufacturer with 12 staff, which avoided collapse by adopting self-management and now exhibits all the hallmarks of a ‘next stage’ organisation. Evolving from a low quality, late delivery, high cost manufacturer, to a high quality, consistently punctual, high profit organisation.

Another example is Dutch community nursing organisation Buurtzorg, with 14,000 staff, that delivers community nursing in the Netherlands for 40% less cost than the model that preceded it, is growing exponentially, has low staff turnover, high patient satisfaction and reduced patient presentation at hospital and doctors surgeries.

More examples are emerging on a daily basis, and the reinventing work network is not only committed to helping organisations explore the potential of ‘next stage’, but also finding organisations in the South West already acting into their next stage.”

If you would like to join a network of local organisations exploring the potential of becoming ‘next stage’, you can now sign up for the first free workshop below on 6 November at Petroc at