This book was recommended to me by David van Valkenburg (thanks!) and also my Belgian friend Johan Roels was very positive (see the link to his storyfication below), and so I took a chance. After all, the subject Self-Management does very much appeal to be.

But it was a bit of a tough start. Ken Wilber’s foreword nearly caused me to close the book and put it aside indefinitely. WTF!! Since Ulrich Beck’s book I haven’t read something that is so complicated and academic, and to make things worse also eerie and not quite attached to this Earth. Boy, was I glad to have made it through. Luckily the first few pages written by Laloux himself proved to be very different, so it pays to endure! (Or just take my suggestion and skip the foreword).

The first Part of the book is very interesting and sets the scene very nicely. Laloux discusses various stages of organisation development from the earliest forms of human development until the (for now) furthest evolution of Self-Management. He characterises each stage (which he gives a ‘colour’, something I’m a bit sceptical about, because it’s a bit code-speech for the in-crowd) and this is quite fascinating stuff. What intrigues me a lot is that it’s possible to draw parallels between certain stages of development of organisations and certain schools of safety management. Something to return to at a later moment in time.

After that first Part comes the main part of the book which discusses structures, practices and cultures of self-managing organisations through about twelve examples from around the world. Some of these are very inspiring to say the least. I’m not going to do an attempt to make a summary and I rather suggest that everyone who is interested in reading and exploring self-management should dip into the book for himself. 

The Third Part of the book concludes with a discussion of things to consider if one would like to evolve in the direction of self-management oneself. What are necessary conditions, how to start up (as it turns out, most start-ups are inherently self-managing!), how to transform and whether you should take the chance at all (because some people may call you crazy because you want something impossible). Appendices 3 and 4 with an overview of structures and practices/processes is also very worthwhile for those considering the (r)evolution.

Interesting, thought-provoking, and at times a bit esoteric (but I chose to ignore those bits).

Nelson Parker, ISBN 978-2-960133-50-9


You can also watch this YouTube clip where Laloux discusses the book.