The Thinking Organization

This pyramid summarizes the Thinking Teams view of a successful organization, an organization effectively moving toward its goals, powered by collaborating teams of wholehearted individuals. The pyramid represents building from foundational elements; its layers show focus areas for organizational improvement and growth.             Starting from the base:  

Self-Aware, Productive Individuals – a wonderful alignment happens when an organization helps its members participate in a way that connects with and acknowledges their full selves, not just the conscious tip of the mind’s iceberg (The Committee in Your HeadThe Power of Alignment) 

Open, Respectful Person-Person Communication – when teams learn to communicate, not from the deceptively efficient but narrow perspective of concrete positions, but from an expanded awareness of shared goals and the potential for mutual learning, each team member moves closer to full potential and contribution (Apples and OrangesAnother Iceberg

Focused, Agile, Managed Teams – when the natural tools of human cooperation are focused and enabled by agile structure, the team becomes greater than the sum of its members (Hive MindBendable ConcreteBeing Rational About Irrationality ) 

Thriving Enterprise Led With Vision – when leaders embrace the sometimes contradictory facets of their organization (Corrective Lenses), they can expand their options and tailor effective action by tending to all four aspects of their organization*, their organization as:

  • “Factory” – creating structure that mutually supports individual and organization (Happy CogsTaking Chances ) 
  • “Family” – Holding and fostering organizational values that transcend the daily To-Do list (The 26 Hour-a-Day Manager)
  • “Arena” – creating a transparent, fair space to engage divergent interests and allocate scarce resources (Clean Politics)
  • “Theater” – articulate the symbols that connect an organization’s mission to meaning and value for team members and stakeholders (Theater of Symbols)


*Bolman, Lee G. and Deal, Terrance E.  Reframing Organizations – Artistry, Choice, and Leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass A Wiley Imprint, 2003.

Author: Tom Robertson

Tom Robertson, Ph.D., is an organizational and engineering consultant specializing in harmonizing human and artificial intelligence. He has been an AI researcher, an aerospace executive, and a consultant in Organizational Development. An international speaker and teacher, he has presented in a dozen countries and has served as visiting faculty at Écoles des Mines d’Ales in France and Portland State University.

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