Let life emerge within the organization

regenerative organization

In this article, I argue that there is a need to explore new and more regenerative and liberating forms of organizations. I provide a concrete method for driving this transformation and offer insights into the effects that you can achieve by transforming your organization. Let’s begin with the latter.

The potential of creating a regenerative organization, liberating professionalism, and recreate life within the organization is enormous, both on a human and economic level.

In my opinion, the effects can be experienced concretely in the following ways:

  • The professionalism within your organization will be more liberated, and you will be better equipped to handle the immense complexity of knowledge that challenges many companies today.
  • Your organization will be life-giving and create a sense of well-being in each employee’s work life, resulting in reduced stress and dissatisfaction among your employees over time.
  • Job satisfaction and productivity among employees will increase measurably.
  • You will become an attractive workplace and find it easier to attract and recruit new employees.
  • Your organization will become more learning-oriented, innovative, and development-oriented.
  • Leadership roles will change. Your leadership will shift focus away from purely professional concerns towards more strategic and personal leadership.
  • The organization will experience an entirely new cohesion, both internally and externally, towards the outside world.
  • And for those of you who manage to carry out the transformation within the coming year, you will have a fantastic opportunity to brand yourselves as pioneers in developing the regenerative and liberating organizations of the future.

And not only that, my claim is actually that your organization will not exist — or as a minimum, will face serious challenges in attracting new employees—if you do not manage to transform your organization and make it regenerative.

Now, you might be thinking, “Why should we start talking about regenerative organizations? And is there even a need for new forms of organization?”

The short answer is: yes, there is a significant need. Because there are problems with the current organizational forms, and regenerative organizations can be part of the solution.

We’re facing a tremendous increase in complexity of knowledge

The development of new knowledge is happening exponentially in these years. It’s almost like a knowledge explosion, and many organizations struggle daily with an utterly insane complexity of knowledge. This has been a premise for the many recent years of organizational development initiatives, and organizations have implemented loads of quality, control, and reporting systems, policies, workflows, templates, structures, and leadership and organizational hierarchies. Organizations have thus consciously and unconsciously managed the increasing complexity with structure and systems.

We’ve managed complexity with arrogance

It’s a bit peculiar because we know from research on complex systems that they cannot be controlled, but only managed appropriately by maintaining a suitable balance between structure and chaos. We know that if you “over” structure a complex system, it becomes rigid. Furthermore, both research in complex systems and mathematics assert that a system with more than two living organisms is a complex system. Thus, most of our organizations are considered complex systems. So, isn’t it somewhat crazy that we try to control and manage them as we have done for decades or even centuries?

The consequence is stress and dissatisfaction — the solution is to recreate life

Our handling of complexity has made our organizations intricate, disconnected, over-structured, and rigid. Life within organizations, seen as complex ecosystems, is severely inhibited. The consequence can clearly be seen in stress statistics and organizational well-being surveys. The statistics and surveys show overwhelmingly bad numbers. Many even talk about a “stress and dissatisfaction epidemic.” But what should we do to overcome these bad numbers and help the employees?

One thing is certain: we must recreate life within organizations. We must reinvent the organizations of the future so that organization, leadership, collaboration, and interaction forms are life-giving, liberating, and capable of releasing the employees’ professional and human potential — and thereby prevent stress and dissatisfaction. And this is where the regenerative comes in.

What is regenerative?

The term regenerative comes from nature’s ecosystems. They are indeed regenerative. They regenerate and revitalize themselves over time. This means that they are always in a process where something dies, and what remains constantly adjusts and becomes more viable. Ecosystems in nature thereby create the conditions for life and for life to constantly develop and adapt.

This principle — creating the conditions for life and for life to constantly develop and unfold — is one of the two fundamental principles in my approach to working with the regenerative organization. The other fundamental principle is also drawn from nature’s ecosystems. The elements are interconnected; they affect each other and play together. An element’s development and living conditions should never be seen in isolation but always as part of the overall ecosystem. Everything is connected and must be understood as part of a larger whole. This principle does not only apply to working with leadership but also the development of individual employees, as well as the development of the organization — both internally and externally. The elements are part of a much larger ecosystem, and all the elements are interconnected.

Thus, in my experience, these two regenerative principles are crucial guiding lights in reviving life within organizations:

  • You must create the conditions for life, and for life to constantly develop and unfold.
  • You must create connectedness and always work with individual elements as part of a larger whole (a larger ecosystem).

The path to the regenerative organization goes through liberation

At Promentum, we support our clients in addressing these challenges. We do this through transformation processes where we attempt to recreate life within the organization. This is done by rewilding the organization; that is, breaking down structures and systems that inhibit the organization’s natural life and limit employees’ professional development, by liberating employees professionally, and by recreating the organization’s connectedness both internally and externally. Throughout the organizational development process, the focus is on implementing everyday practices that support life and flow within the organization.

5 important focus areas when developing a liberating and more regenerative organization

Promentum’s work with establishing regenerative organizations typically focuses on five areas:

  • Create meaning and identity through the organization’s mission.
  • Strengthen the community and connectedness — internally and externally.
  • Rewild the organization.
  • Liberate the employees.
  • Establish an ad-hoc organization around the organization’s expertise.

In the following, I will elaborate on each point.

Create meaning and identity through the organization’s mission

It is extremely important that the liberating organization has a clear, guiding, and meaning-creating common mission. A clear common mission should help create identity, community, and direction in a liberating culture. It should serve as the beacon that shines in the night, ensuring that the ships do not stray off course.

I once heard about a janitor at a hospital who was asked what he was doing at his workplace. He replied that he was “saving lives.” Initially, an unexpected answer, but an excellent example of the importance of a clear and meaning-creating common mission. My assumption is that the hospital’s overall mission is to save lives, and since the mission is creating meaning and is directive at all levels, the janitor can suddenly see himself working for a meaningful purpose — and since more patients die in hospitals due to hygiene problems, his work is very important in relation to the mission.

If we liberate employees and lack a common mission, we, as leaders, risk creating a situation where the employee does not have a real opportunity to unfold their potential and engage their professionalism properly because there is a lack of direction and purpose. Or a situation where the employee, in the absence of a common direction, lets their own interests dictate the direction of their professional work. In both cases, the result will be that the employee becomes less value-creating for the common good. The common mission must create meaning, be directive, and must serve as a value compass for employees in their professionally liberated everyday life.

Strengthen community and connectedness — internally and externally

Community and connectedness are the foundation of a liberating organization. In my work with liberation, I often find that there are fundamentally different understandings of the term “free,” and it is important to be very explicit about my approach to the word and what I mean by being free.

In modern everyday language, freedom is often understood as “free from”: you are a self-realizing free bird who has no obligations to anyone. But in my view, this is a modern and misunderstood interpretation of the word freedom.

If you look at the origin of the word, it is related to “kinsman,” which is an old word for clan member. And because the kinsman was protected by the clan, being a kinsman was the same as being free. You were “free to” do things because the community had your back. With that knowledge in mind, you can only be free if you are part of a community because it is the community that sets you free. And it is a mutual freedom because as a part of the community, you also commit to setting the other/others free.

A liberating organization must therefore be able to create a strong and binding community that can set its members free. A community where employees are connected and have each other’s backs. But it is not enough to only work with connectedness and community internally in the organization. When you are reviving a living organization, you also need to create community and connectedness externally to the world in relation to customers, competitors, society, and the world.

Reconnecting to the external ecosystems often requires a significant mental leap because closing in on oneself is an important part of many organizations’ current DNA. They are closed off and disconnected from the outside world, and they are “afraid” of competitors and customers, who are therefore only involved after careful strategic consideration. A living organization is open, believes in collaboration rather than competition, and the separation between the organization and the surroundings is much more lively and fluid.

Rewild the organization

We need to rewild the organization’s ecosystems. Remove and break down structures, hierarchies, and control systems that destroy or inhibit life from flourishing and developing within the organization. In this breakdown/liberation process, inspiration from nature is essential. Our traditional organizations resemble manicured gardens FAR too much, where we, in a desire to control life, have trimmed and killed off 98% of everything living with order, systems, roundup, and paved paths.

As previously described, we have inhibited life in organizations through recruitment systems, employee policies, quality assurance systems, hierarchies, code of conduct, bureaucracy, hierarchical leadership culture etc., despite knowing from research that complex systems, like our organizations, are unpredictable and CANNOT be controlled. Establishing a liberating regenerative organization is about using this knowledge. About removing control systems and allowing life to re-establish itself. About making organizations alive — and thereby making them suitable for humans.

In the concrete work of rewilding the organizations, we at Promentum work on establishing life-giving everyday practices that can replace traditional structures and reporting systems. The new everyday practices are created together with all relevant professionals and stakeholders in a co-creative development process, which in its form is very inspired by design thinking. The process focuses on how we create life-giving everyday practices that support:

  • That professionalism can remain in flow and is not limited by silos or organizational boundaries (i.e., that professional solutions can extend beyond the organization if possible).
  • That those with the necessary knowledge have the task and professional decision-making authority.
  • Trust instead of control.
  • Ensuring high autonomy in employees’ work.
  • That no undesirable, hierarchically dependent bottlenecks arise.
  • That the organization’s everyday practices make sense and are motivating for the relevant employees.
  • That the organization’s everyday practices support each employee’s flow at work.

Liberate employees

The current complexity of knowledge and interdisciplinary knowledge means that many tasks are only adequately solved if the organization’s (internal and external) expertise is utilized in an organizational co-creation process. This process must in no way be hindered/destroyed by a leadership hierarchy where the leader becomes a bottleneck and professional filter. This kills professionalism, employee engagement, and life within the organization in general. If we are to revive life in the organization, we must liberate employees’ professional work. This is done by redefining roles and responsibilities within the organization. In a liberating organization, it is the employees with the expertise who have “it,” who drive the tasks and have the professional decision-making authority.

Establish an ad-hoc-like organization around the organization’s expertise

The goal of liberating employees is partly to create flow and synergy in the organization’s expertise and partly to create flow in each employee’s everyday life. In regards to the desired flow, it is not enough to liberate employees. The organisation of the organization’s expertise and task-solving must support both the professional and personal flow and accommodate the complexity of knowledge. It is therefore essential that the liberating organization has an ad-hoc-like organisation around professionalism and task-solving. The ad-hoc organization must ensure that all complex tasks are solved by temporary/dynamic professional networks that are constantly able to connect and disconnect expertise and professionals according to the task’s needs.

Other important elements to focus on if you want to succeed in creating a more regenerative and liberating organization

In this article, I have focused on the organizational initiatives that can support the recreation of life within the organization. Initiatives that, in my opinion, are important when establishing a more regenerative and liberating organization. In addition to the organizational elements discussed, there are, of course, also many elements of a more cultural or psychological nature that there has not been room to go through in this text, but which are 100% crucial to succeed in establishing a regenerative and liberating organization.

These include, for example:

  • A trust-based culture.
  • Establishing a suitable culture around mistakes.
  • Establishing psychological safety across the organization’s ecosystems — internally and externally.
  • The feeling of proximity and inclusion.
  • A playful and improvising culture.
  • An inherent “sense and respond” approach — both among employees and leaders.


In my experience, the fundamental elements that are revived when organizations begin working on developing a regenerative and liberating organization are trust, belief, and equality. In one way or another, these fantastic elements grow out of life-giving processes and end up permeating the entire organization — and as if by magic, the organization becomes alive.