Development, Leadership, Turkus
11 November 2016
Spiral Dynamics – a psychological approach to understanding systems of thinking held by individuals, organisations and societies
Spiral Dynamics – a psychological approach to understanding systems of thinking held by individuals, organisations and societies

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There will always be projects, but project management’s roles will be different. Nowadays all strategic changes happen through projects and programmes. Therefore to manage projects is not enough, we need to lead the change in the organization and projects and programmes become just a tool to do so. Creating lasting and effective change means recognising and working with values. But where do values come from? Values spring from worldviews. To effectively work with values means understanding worldviews. How people think, and why people adopt the values they do.

Not sure if you agree but I believe we live in a change of human consciousness. All the philosophers, psychologists, historians and anthropologists agree on the big shifts in human history. Human history does not evolve linearly, there are sudden big jumps, which do not happen very often. And while we are in it, it’s very confusing time. In every shift, everything changing, technology changes, ways of governing ourselves changes, economic basis changes. These also impact the way we collaborate, the way we think about the organisations, how we structure them. Practices and processes we have get fundamentally reinvented at every stage. Each stage has much more powerful organisational model.

We feel that how we run the organisations nowadays has reached its limits. Many people are just feel dread to go to work, because of politics, bureaucracy, silo thinking. A lot of people, like me 3 years ago, leaving the organisations, because they cannot stand the current model, a lot see them as soulless places.

The theory of Spiral Dynamics originating with work of Clare Graves in the 1960s and developed and applied by Don Beck, Cristopher Cowan and others, charts the evolution of human consciousness and culture beginning 100 000 years ago, through eight colour-coded value level of development.

Starting from automatic and instinctive beige of loose bands, 100 000 years ago, where food, warmth, sex and safety have priority. Main value is instinct, leader is a guardian and sense of life is survival.

Through magical and animistic tribal purple, 50 000 years ago with the mindset of keeping the tribe’s nest safe and warm. Values are safety, traditionalism, rituals, prejudice, a leader is a father and sense of life is past.

Moving to the next stage of egocentric, impulsive, rebellious, power and dominant  red, starting 10 000 years ago, where the world is seeing as a jungle where the strongest and most cunning survive.  The best is to avoid shame, get respect and do what you want.  Values are power, heroes and victims. Leader is an administrator and sense of life is present. The boss needs to exert the power over subordinates to stay alive and in position. Organisations are extremely cruel, they do not scale very well. There are still organisations organised with a red paradigm like mafia or street gangs.

The next big jump in human history is agricultural revolution and a new stage of human consciousness, more stable and scalable.  Absolutistic, purposeful, authoritarian, hierarchical and obedient blue starting 5 000 years ago and sees the world as an ordered existence under the control of ultimate truth. Life has meaning, direction and purpose, enforce principles of rightful living, scarify for honour. Values are order, meaning, rules, morality, saints and sinners. An autocratic leader with authority and sense of life is future. Organisations are radically more powerful, have formal organisational charts, like catholic church has invented and a replicable process – enormous break through. The blue paradigm is still very dominant with 40% of world population and 30% of power. Organisations operating from this level are traditional churches, ex. catholic church, army, public schools.

Another huge limp was the industrial revolution and begining of multiplistic, achievist, scientific and strategic orange starting 300 years ago. Effectiveness replaces morals and  the world is seen as a marketplace full of possibilities and opportunities. We need to play the game to win, cultivate an optimistic mind and take risk. Values are success, materialism, status, winners and losers. Leader is an achiever and sense of life is profit. Most corporate organisations operate with orange worldview.

Next jump is called the post-modern or information age. Relativistic, egalitarian and communitarian green starting 150 years ago. The world has been seen as a human habitat in which we share the life’s experiences, freed from dogma.  We seek place in inner self and explore the caring dimensions of community. Values are people, community, feelings. Leader is a mediator and sense of life is matter. Green paradigm are represented by organisations with values-driven culture. Agile and lean fit here.

These were the stages of the first tear and now we explore the levels of second tier where there’s understanding that other worldviews exist. People who operates from second tier accept, that there’s evolution in consciousness, that there’s a momentum in evolution towards ever more complex ways of dealing with the world.

As mentioned before we feel that how we run the organisations has reached its limits and looking for new ways.

We do not know the name of the new age as yet, might be integral or authentic

Systemic, integrative, autonomous yellow started 50 years ago sees the world as a chaotic organism forged by differences and change. Flexibility, functionality, responsibility and spontaneity have highest priority. Values are process, knowledge, alternative reality, own rules. Leader is group oriented and sense of life is synergy.

And differential and holistic TURQUOISE started 30 years ago, where collective individualism counts. Differential/Holistic/Collective individualism. We experience the wholeness of existence through mind and spirit. Values are synthesis, collective individualism, spirituality, collective consciousness. Leader is a mentor and sense of life is others.

Please remember that none of the stage/paradigm is better than the other one. We move to the next stage because we feel that something is broken, something disturbs us. As individuals we develop in different pace  the change must be trigger by something.

The description of 5 types of organisations as described in Frederic Laloux’s book “Reinventing organisations” can be found in the previous post.

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