Jean-François Zobrist’s building blocks of his Self-Organizing Organization FIVA – Part I

This is a column of dr. Charles Leroy ‘Charlie’ Palmgren. It was initially posted as a comment on my previous post “Creative Interchange: The Unconscious Ingredient in Sucessful Teal Organizations” and I think it deserved being published as a column ‘on its own’ in the series ‘Creative Interchange’ the unconscious ingredient of Self-Organizing Organizations. Since I’m for the moment the only moderator of this column website, the column is ‘posted’ by me. I hope that in the near future , the other members of ‘Charlie’s Eagles’ will be able to post their columns directly on this site.


Zobrist moves to the heart of having better organizations with the assumption, “People are systematically considered to be good.(Reliable, self-motivated, trustworthy, intelligent). The critical operative word is “good.” Many people are suspicious of such a word. I would use the word to mean of having worth or value.

Many corporations have written value statements. More often than not such statements become wall hangings and have little to do with how things are acutally done on a day to day basis. I believe, with Zobrist, that people are good, but I also believe there are two operative meanings for the word. I believe people are always “intrinsically” and often can be “extrinicallly” good. Unfortunately, most often extrinsic good or value is the only one that gets attention.

Extrinsic value is an instrumental value. One is good if one is doing what others like, what is acceptable in the eyes of others, what is expected of one by others. In other words, extrinsic worth or value is bestowed by others or a corporation. It comes from the outside. Most people assume they are worthy or good when they are pleasing others and that such value has to be earned through performance and success. And, worst of all that that is the only source of their worth as a person.

The primary threat or enemy of such value is failure and rejection. The fear of rejection and failure fills many a workplace. It is the major generator of fear, anger, guilt, shame, blame and stress in most organizations. It undermines productivity, confuses communication, obstructs creativity and innovation, wastes time and money. In short extrinsic value carries the seeds of  much that is wrong with organizations and their leadership and managment.

If what Zobrist means by good is intrinsic worth and value then a different outcome can be expected. Intrinic good, worth, respect or value is the basis for mental, emotional and behavioral health and wellness. It is the basis for healthy individuals, teams, marriages and organizations, Few leaders and managers even realize there is a difference between intrinsic and extrinic worth or good. Most organizations build their compensation, reward and promotion systems entirely on extrinsic good. No wonder so many employees in so many corporations are unhappy with their jobs.

Unhappy employees reduces loyalty and contributes to absenteeiism and turnover. Effective leaders and managers must first accept and experience their own intrinsic worth before that will be able to express and enable such worth toward others. Talking about respect for others is one thing, actually living it with them is quite another.