As we announced a few days ago, today we begin the 8-chapter series to share the main keys to our own evolution in recent years. Here we go!
Our journey began in late 2016, on a survey of brand awareness for K2K Emocionando and the New Style of Relationships (NER) in the Basque Country. Based on this survey results, we approached various organisations in the Basque industrial sector in a series of open meetings held in Araba, Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa – the geographical area where we had traditionally operated, accompanying organisations in their deep cultural transformations.
Aware that an organisation’s experience must be found inside, we designed our first Opening K2K Emocionando & Ner Group Event under the title, “Experience Is Inside: Come and Get to Know It”, to explain how to transform organisations on the basis of NER. In this we had the support of the Ner Group organisations that moved towards self-management, efficiency, flexibility and responsibility – shared success stories told first-hand.
In this first approach, we saw that our model was still new: the local market was not mature enough to embark on the deep organisational transformations we envisaged. NER as a whole meant changing traditional business models radically – in the etymological sense, that is, from the root. In these early stages, people often asked for examples or similar practices in other countries, trying to find validation for our approach somewhere else.
So, we began to explore, to look for sources of inspiration. We looked up to similar projects carried out in other countries. And we found what we already knew but had no evidence for: there were dozens of organisations worldwide sharing our values, our culture and our purpose.
Then we reached out and contacted several organisations that were part of the new organisational culture, understood as a broad, diverse movement that aims at being part of an ecosystem of living organisations in need of a space where they can connect and interact. One of these organisations was Corporate Rebels, a multidisciplinary team led by Dutchmen Joost Minnaar and Pim de Morree, who travel the world in search of pioneering and revolutionary organisations, entrepreneurs, academics and business leaders to add to their Bucket List – a list of individuals and organisations working to change the status quo of frustrating workplaces, which already includes Koldo Saratxaga, K2K Emocionando and NER Group.
In July 2017, Joost and Pim paid us a visit. They were interested in our approach to organisational change. Already familiar with examples and experiences of evolutionary organisations from different countries, they were fascinated by the fact that in a small place like the Basque Country, several organisations had undergone deep cultural transformations embracing the New Style of Relationships and worked together as members of the NER Group. Their trip, along with an event we held for about fifty people, was the first step to become an international reference in organisational change towards models based on freedom, trust, transparency and self-management.
Also in 2017, David Martí, at the time Director of the Barcelona School of Music, showed us Reinventing Organizations, a book by Frederic Laloux, an internationally renowned expert in management models. With a preface written by Martí himself for its Spanish edition, the book contained a term and concept we felt identified with: Teal organisations, that is, organisations that adhere to an organisational theory based on workers’ self-management. We found that Teal and NER organisations were very much alike, not only in terms of their practices but also regarding their values and background.
A master’s thesis was written at the time comparing the Teal and NER approaches. The author’s advisor was Ana Moreno, professor at the Technical University of Madrid and coordinator of the Sustainable Organisations Research Group (GIOS). This thesis gave us a clearer idea of the individuals and experiences where we should look for inspiration. We soon realised that we shared a common language with different organisations and that in different places and at different times, a significant number of unrelated organisations were going down similar paths, guided by intuition, determination and consistency only. Without contact with each other, these organisations had made successful, remarkably similar innovations, including self-management of working teams, affirmation of the integrity of people and the evolving nature of business projects.
On November 13, 2017, after a series of private meetings, about 300 representatives of companies and public administrations in the Basque Country attended a panel discussion featuring Frederic Laloux, Koldo Saratxaga – promoter of K2K Emocionando and the NER Group – and Ana Moreno, and hosted by Pedro Gorospe, a contributor to El País and author of El inconformismo de Koldo Saratxaga (2015). The event was a huge success. It was booked up in a matter of days and many people were left wanting to be there and listen to the speakers on site.
Listening to Frederic was really exciting. Talking to him, we felt reassured that organisations could be reinvented from a perspective transforming work into something meaningful, rewarding and fruitful. With the help of Miguel Ángel Castro and the team from Para todos La 2 (RTVE), the full event was recorded. We will always be thankful for what they did for us.
In early 2018, a few weeks after the event, Reinventing Organizations: An Illustrated Invitation to Join the Conversation on Next-Stage Organizations (2nd edition) was published in Spanish. Among the examples of Teal organisations, Laloux included K2K Emocionando and the NER Group. This – and media coverage – placed K2K Emocionando and NER on the map of evolutionary organisations in Spain and around the globe.
These have been years of intense activity. As we cemented our relationship with Laloux, a small tribe emerged of people with similar ideas in the public sector. We have learnt about the experiences of groups, associations and trends akin to NER; we have read about sociocracy and holacracy; we have contacted organisations like the B Corp movement, Sannas, Capitalismo Consciente, Empresas Liberadas, and others; and we have welcomed companies and individuals willing to learn from our experience and share their own, including Matt Perez (Nearsoft, USA, one of the organisations on the Corporate Rebels Bucket List), dwarfs & Giants (Austria), Lean Consulting Group (LGC, Netherlands), the whole team of Toscane Accompagnement (France), and Guincho (Portugal).