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By Britta Tondock

· SDO,TEAL,Wholeness,Devlopmntal coaching,Evolutionary purpose

How to create wholeness at work, and therefore enable organisations and their people to grow into Teal? This can become real if every work activity is also a developmental experience, using a scientifically-based peer-to-peer coaching practice as part of “how we work”. Dojo4Life is a community of practice, consultancy and coaching provider helping individuals and organisations embed peer to peer coaching into their work.


Dojo4Life is a coaching practice for life-long learning and adult development, which offers tangible tools and practices for individual and organizational growth, based on the latest research at the intersection of psychology and organisational design for performance.

The reason why Dojo came into being is the realization that if we as the human race want to be able to respond to the numerous challenges we see in today’s world, we need people and organizations that operate from their true and full potential. Only individuals and organizations that can respond to their own needs first, are truly and happily able to give to others, to engage, and to meaningfully contribute.

Only individuals and organizations that are able to deal with complexity and rapid change, are capable of making sense of the world we live in, and finding potential in its constant flux.

The Dojo gives individuals and organizations the tools and practices to do so – to overcome the barriers of our Ego, to understand ourselves and others better, to communicate authentically and effectively, to embrace both our strengths and vulnerabilities, and therefore to create workplaces where we can show up with all of who are. Only then are we able to fully use our potential and our creativity, collaborating effectively and efficiently for a cause we truly care for.

Right now, it is mostly executives who are benefiting from expensive coaching. They grow their ability to be productive through their strengths, rather than be limited by their weaknesses. We need everyone to grow these abilities today, if we are to live in a world worth living in. And we need this to be free, meaning accessible and affordable to all.


The purpose of Dojo4Life is to enable businesses and their people to flourish by getting the benefits of developmental coaching to all, in practicing powerful ways of making “bigger” sense of our world: Ways of seeing more options, of seeing what else is there, and seeing different meanings in what happens to us.

Dojo is based on the latest research in psychology and integrates a number of different and current evidence-based approaches to adult development, for example the research done by Prof. Robert Kegan (Harvard University) around stages of adult development and Immunity to Change, as well as the Developmental Coaching framework by Otto Laske.

Kegan added new insights to the question whether there would not only be developmental stages throughout childhood, but also throughout our adult life.

We somehow assume that by the time we turn 30, we are done and nothing much changes – as it turns out, that is not true.

He was also interested in the question why we often know that certain things would be good for us, but we simply don’t do them. Why is it sometimes so hard for us to change our behaviour, even though we know it would be needed or beneficial for our health, our relationships, our career, our happiness?

Based on his research, Kegan defined 5 stages of development (he calls them S1 – S5) that serve as a term of reference to assess where we are in our life, putting our current stage of development into perspective and showing us that the problems, questions or complaints we have are mostly normal and human, considering the stage we are currently in.

The Developmental Coaching framework of researcher Otto Laske then provides a tangible way of moving along the stages of adult development; the framework is also called Interdevelopmental Coaching. His Dialectic Thinking approach also provides a useful perspective on how seemingly contradictory experiences or facts about this world can coexist at the same time, and can be true at the same time – in fact, two opposites always need each other in order to form a whole.

The Dojo patterns use, embody and operationalize both Otto Laske’s research around Interdevelopmental Coaching and Kegan’s work on stages of adult development and enabling adults to change. So one important foundation pattern is Kegan’s Immunity to Change.

Your Dojo-team-partner takes you through a five step process designed to identify your big assumptions about yourself, others or life, and to re-write them over time in order to enable them to fulfil your personal commitments:

Practitioners can identify what they are really committed to, identify the behaviours that are holding them back from their commitment, identify which hidden commitments are at the core of their sabotaging behaviours, learn about the big assumption behind the hidden commitment and re-write their big assumption so that their actions are more appropriate to their present, and they themselves become the steering force in their life again.

The more you and your sparring partner have mastered the dialectic thought forms, the better you are able to make new sense of yourself, others and your reality. And the more comprehensive your newly-rewritten big assumptions can become.



As Dojo addresses our inner scripts and big assumptions as humans about the world we life in, it is most evident to us that practicing the Dojo patterns in a team can contribute tremendously to the Teal breakthrough of Wholeness: Creating workplaces where we can show up with all of who we are, taking off our social mask, not only using the rational parts of our being, but also the emotional, the intuitive, accessing the deeper, spiritual parts of our being that are equally important sensors in so many dimensions – for personal fulfilment, for deeper connection, for decision -making, for productivity.

Practicing the Dojo Ground Patterns enables us to overcome a great amount of what our Ego tells us to do. It brings clarity into the mess we often don’t even know we are in, making it clear that how we feel and think about a situation or a person is mostly based on our big assumptions – which do not necessarily have to be true (in most cases, they are already out-dated and from the past). We realize that how we feel and think about others is often a projection of our inner scripts – which is our own stuff, not theirs. It works the other way around, as well – what others think and feel about us is mostly based on their big assumptions about the world, and does often not say so much about us.

The Dojo can therefore enable a team to understand each other’s assumptions about the world, and how they enable or disable them, in everyday activities.

A conflict or misunderstanding can therefore move away from a space of blame, silence, or fear into a possibility for individual and collective growth, for deeper connection, and compassion.

Working in a complex, uncertain, rapidly-changing world requires ever faster ability to make sense of complexity and contradiction. Dojo4Life enables practitioners make more sense of their reality – especially by working with peers in a community of practice. For example, a group of CEOs, all wrestling with the question of transforming their companies for the future, use the dialectic thought forms of the Dojo to see better what is, see more clearly what they can do, and who they need to become to do it.


In Dojo’s supporting of Wholeness, it also provides valuable insights and resources when it comes to the third Teal breakthrough of Evolutionary Purpose:

Embracing the fact that the organization is a living system and has a life of its own, a life that the individuals working in that system have to feel and listen into frequently in order to take the next step, take the next decision that is in line with this purpose and drives the organization into the direction it wants to go.

Wholeness could work as a supporting prerequisite for accepting the fact that in a living system, it is not so much up to our own opinion or Ego anymore what needs to be done next. It requires us to give up on the belief that the old paradigm of predict and control is still working. We need to let go of knowing what the outcome will be. Instead, trust in the process and in the intelligence of the system as a whole, takes over.

It also means to accept the need to fail, to revise decisions of the past, to detach your identity or sense of self-worth from the belief that there is one right and perfect decision or solution that can be predicted. Dojo as a practice to deal more consciously and compassionately with your assumptions and inner scripts – enabling you to detach yourself from it, seeing yourself and others more clearly – can support people and organizations in embracing the vulnerability and uncertainty that comes with truly serving the Evolutionary Purpose of your organization.


First of all, Dojo’s supporting Wholeness as a way of detaching from your Ego might again be a supporting factor to be able to work in self-management structures in general, as it requires us to fully trust and support each other without the need or possibility to use force and will.

Second, using the Dojo patterns as a “human operating system”, complementary to Holacracy as an operating system for self-management, could also support organizations working in self-management structures to understand which individuals fit into which roles.


This article gave insight into how Dojo4Life as a scientifically-based peer-to-peer coaching practice can support individuals and organizations in creating Wholeness at their workplace, embrace the Evolutionary Purpose of the living system they operate in, and complement Self-Management practices by providing insight into the “human side” of roles and accountabilities. In doing so, it can enable us all to tap into our true and full potential, truly take care of ourselves and others, and meaningfully contribute to the challenges and complexities we are facing in today’s rapidly changing world.

If you want to know more, have a look through the following resources. You can also reach out to us via e-mail to, facebook, join our Mailing List or come to one of our upcoming Dojo4Life workshops in London (UK) or Hamburg (Germany).

Further resources:

  1. Robert Kegan & Lisa Laskow Lahey, Immunity to Change: How to Overcome It and Unlock the Potential in Yourself and Your Organization (Leadership for the Common Good)
  2. Robert Kegan, “Making Business Personal”, Harvard Business Review
  3. Otto Laske: Dialectical Thinking for Integral Leaders: A Primer
  4. Inter-Developmental Coaching method of Otto Laske
  5. German interview with Otto Laske about the relationship between rationality and emotions:
  6. Graham Boyd, Blog article on LinkedIn: Are you big enough?