Orange Organizations

Hierarchical Organization Structures
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Prof. Arup Barman
Professor, India

Orange Organizations

The first color based thinking appeared in the concept of “Spiral Dynamics” propounded by Prof. C.W. Graves, who used colors as the symbol or descriptor of values and characteristics. In his concept the Orange color represents success, opportunity, competing to achieve the results, influence, autonomy. Orange is the multiplistic or aggregative expression of values relating to success and innovation.

In the view of Frederic Laloux, Orange Organisations are those which pursue innovation, breakthroughs and success through freedom and exercising accountability. Orange organisations usually seek profit and growth through innovations, breakthroughs and accountability. The orange organisation is known as the achievers’ organisation. An unsurpassed metaphor for this is the “organization is a machine”.

  1. Pursue their goal to beat the competition.
  2. Drive profit and business growth.
  3. Key strength is in innovations, based on which they stays ahead of the competition.
  4. Deploy management by objectives as the guiding principles, exercises command and control and through exercising freedom on the how to move ahead.

The pyramid / hierarchy remains the fundamental structure of an orange organization. Orange organizations are metaphorically indicated as “organization as machine”. They are operated by the reductionist sciences during the industrial age. The people in this organisation use engineering jargon, such as: layers, inputs and outputs, efficiency and effectiveness, lever, moving needles, acceleration, brakes, scaling, scoping, information flows, re-engineering, down-sizing etc..
From the human resource aspects, people are carefully aligned on the organizational chart somewhat like cogs in a machine. Employees in this organization are empowered with “command and control” which gives ways to exercise “predict and control”. The managers and employees are given targets to achieve, by empowering a considerable level of freedom in how to achieve these targets as well. The orange paradigm is adapted to push innovations for internal management in specialized departments, such as Human Resources, Research & Development, Marketing, Product Management, etc.. In implementing advanced techniques of management in the areas, such as central staff functions, Finance, IT, Risk, and Audit, the orange paradigm guides change agents in the large organization.

If any part of the organization's machinery functions below the expected level of performance or rhythm in operation, the organization understands this as the suitable time for a “soft intervention” by forming an ad-hoc team - as it is injecting oils to grease the wheels and pulleys. Thus, change is undertaken with a careful plan and blueprint, followed by conscious implementation.

Orange organizations are a real-world organization model, exercised by most multinational firms today. At present, orange organizations are arguably the leading worldview in the context of global business and politics. If we pick out any global brands of today – say, BMW, Shell, Nike, or Coca Cola obviously we are picking up an organization whose structures, principles and cultures are enthused by the orange paradigm.

In the orange organization, leaders and their followers visualize that the future of their organization must be different and better than the past. They realise that the organisation’s progress is essential. Leadership behavior in orange organization is task-oriented, followed by the principles of management by objectives. Theoretically, anyone can be a boss in an orange organization as long as he/she is good enough at furthering its pursued and embedded business objectives.

Sources and further reading:
Source: Frederic Laloux, "Reinventing Organizations"
Girifths. Hugh (2017), “What Kind of Organisation Do You Want to Work For?
Lee. Kavan (2017), “Reinventing Organizations: A Radically Inspiring Way to Work Together
Always Be Content, “The Future is Teal

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