## Opiniones | Opinions | Editoriales | Editorials

### An Integral Theory Analysis of Complexity Leadership

An Integral Theory Analysis of Complexity Leadership

# An Integral Theory Analysis of Complexity Leadership

Learner Papers

Purpose

Jim Best

### Sources

I have used “Complexity Leadership: Part 1 – Conceptual Foundations” (2008) edited by Mary Uhl-Bien and Russ Marion as the core text for understanding complexity leadership. Uhl-Bien, Marion, and Bill McKelvey are the primary authors of the theory but have attracted a number of other authors that use CAS concepts as antecedents for their leadership-related work. Together these authors provide a rich mixture of new thinking.

I have chosen Forman and Ross’ “Integral Leadership: The next half-step” (2013) to guide the analysis because it seems to be a good summary and interpretation of the primary sources for Integral Theory. Other sources are brought in as needed.

Searching on Google Scholar for “Integral Theory” AND “Complexity Leadership” anywhere in the article from 2000-2014 came up with only 12 results, none of which were an integral theory analysis of complexity leadership theory.  Perhaps it is premature to consider this body of work a theory.  Nevertheless, an analysis of what is extant is possible at this time.

## Theory

### Complexity Leadership Overview

Complexity leadership theory (CLT) has arisen as a relatively coherent body of thought within the last decade, primarily through the organizing work of Mary Uhl-Bien (University of Nebraska) and Russ Marion (Clemson University) with a growing group of scholars (Uhl-Bien & Marion, 2008).  Complexity leadership (CL) focus is first and foremost descriptive at the organizational level (Crosby, 2008) and secondarily at the team and individual levels. The unit of analysis in CL is the complex adaptive systems (CAS) aspect of the organization, rather than the individual or follower as it has been in much of the traditional leadership literature (Avolio, Walumbwa, & Weber, 2009). CLT is a reaction to the notion that organizations are increasingly seen by many scholars less as hierarchical monolithic structures designed to operate coherently under a command-and-control regime, and more as dynamic organic associations of intelligences with multiple and often conflicting goals at multiple levels with a high degree of interdependent relationships not defined by the official organizational structure. This is especially true as we move from a theory-of-the-firm that supports efficient physical product creation to a more services-based economy and firms that thrive on knowledge-era capabilities like adaptation, knowledge transfer, collaboration, and innovation in response to an unpredictable and dynamic environment.

CLT reasons that if a CAS framework is increasingly useful in describing complex organizations and the dynamic environment in which they operate, then understanding leadership in terms of CAS mechanisms will be useful in creating the conditions for leadership to emerge. In the words of Uhl-Bien et al (2008, p.187), “Complexity leadership theory (CLT) focuses on identifying and exploring the strategies and behaviors that foster organizational and subunit creativity, learning, and adaptability when appropriate CAS dynamics are enabled within the contexts of hierarchical coordination (i.e., bureaucracy).”

In the next sections the basic elements of a CAS are described and their application in the development of CLT.

### Complexity Theory and CAS Theory

Following the outline of Ralph Stacey’s masterful recapitulation of complexity science development (Stacey, 2007), Jeffery Goldstein does a good job of surveying the main CAS concepts used in CLT and their antecedents in five decades of systems theory development.  He concludes “It can be plausibly asserted that CAS has assimilated most of the preceding material on complexity, not just in the sense of a grand synthesis, but, more to the point as prompting many innovative research initiatives out of this very synthesis” (Goldstein, 2008, p. 41).  Goldstein acknowledges key antecedent influences of current CAS theory – systems thinking, theoretical biology, nonlinear dynamical systems (NDS) theory, graph theory, phase transitions, and the unique contributions of recent complex adaptive systems theory around emergence.

Some examples of CAS theory antecedents follow.  A main contribution from systems thinking is feedback loops. Interlocking negative and positive feedback loops, along with the delays generated by stock and flow structures, make a system’s behavior “complex”. Negative feedback drives the closed system towards equilibrium (dampening fluctuations) and is the essence of cybernetic control. An actual state deviates from target state at which point the control system reduces that deviation iteratively to zero.  Biological systems thinking have deep implications for understanding organizational systems.  There is the focus on whole systems, and new levels of complexity with new behaviors at each level.  Optimization for the whole and the parts is not the same.  Homeostasis moves the system to an equilibrium point by absorbing fluctuations but does so from an open systems perspective.  Autopoiesis is about self-sustaining but not necessarily self-organizing or adapting.  NDS (non-dynamical systems) thinking brings in the theory of chaos, attractors, state space, phase transitions, bifurcation (jumps from one attractor to another), iteration, and fractals.  Systems naturally go through a kind of evolution passing from one attractor to another, but this phase trajectory is largely unpredictable due in some part to a sensitivity to initial conditions.  The concepts of NDS have been used primarily as metaphors in sociology up to this point, with leaders and their vision operating as attractors.  Network theory ties structure to function.  Structure becomes visible with network analysis tools and simulations, and metrics have been developed to quantify the structures.  Clusters, structural holes, boundary spanners, giant clusters, etc. give voice to the mechanisms behind exploitation and exploration, homophily, belonging, segregation, collaboration, innovation diffusion, and a host of other phenomena.  Finally, CAS brings emergence into the picture, spontaneous, self-organizing order that derives from the amplification of successful strategies (structures) in a dynamic system close to the edge of chaos.  Instability or tension drives the emergence of novel order in self-organizing systems far from equilibrium.

But where does this emergence come from? CAS theory says that if the contributions of four particular aspects of the system are high enough, order emerges.  Those four aspects include the existence of multitudes of agents with agency (the ability to act and adapt), their connectedness, their interdependency, and the variety of populations operating in a landscape where the “fittest” varieties are selected.  The agents co-evolve by “transforming their internal models to become more adaptable to changing environments” (Goldstein, 2008, p. 43).

In the end, CAS is a new model for a new world.  The problems organizations face tend to be wicked – incomplete, contradictory, and changing requirements driven by multiple stakeholders creating novel and unique problems.  In the new fitness landscape there is no one right and optimal answer as there is in a cybernetic-defined system designed to reach equilibrium through feedback controls.  At the very least the landscape is rugged with many suboptimal peaks separated by deep valleys of failure.  In reality, that rugged landscape is “dancing” – dynamically changing its shape as the myriad agents constantly co-adapt to each other, changing the rules of the game at every step.  And yet, this is not chaos.  There are discernible structures and patterns the next level up as we dial the zoom lens back out.  The expert kayaker sees the reliably “permanent” holes and standing waves in a whitewater river.  It is these “features” of the landscape that CLT intends to recognize and exploit.

### Main Components of Complexity Leadership

Complexity leadership derives its theoretical basis from the mechanisms of complexity theory.

Complexity leadership theory is first a description of how creativity, innovation, and adaptability emerge from the dynamic interaction of individuals and groups under the proper conditions, and second, about how individuals and groups can arrange things so this emergence does occur.  Complex systems like organizations are largely unpredictable at the fine-grain focus, and only roughly predictable at coarse-grain.  Weather (until recently) has been largely unpredictable, while climate (coarse-grain) is very predictable.  CLT takes for granted the vast variety and unpredictability of individuals (CAS agents) and treats them as black boxes – there is no individual insight.  However, using a coarser-grain lens, patterns may emerge, attractors may influence, and conditions managed that encourage creativity, innovation, and adaptability.

Increasingly, the major challenges of the firm are not about perfectly efficient systems to produce product under highly stable conditions (industrial era), but rather to respond to novel conditions by collecting, processing, and creating information that helps deliver new solutions to new problems (knowledge era).  Command-and-control organizations have limited utility in the knowledge era whereas unleashing the collective intelligence of the workforce is seen as offering a richer base of creativity and innovation which emerges through an interactive dynamic that is much less constrained.

Bill McKelvey (2008) describes the positive value the organization derives from these innovative interactive dynamics using the economic concept of “rents” (profits above the industry average). Each collaborative interaction in which creativity and innovation emerge through microevolution at a very fine-grained level contributes to the appreciation of the human and social capital of the organization and increases aggregate rents.

Craig Schreiber and Kathleen Carley (2008) offer a related angle on the interactive dynamic.  They identify four aspects of organizational context that promote increased learning and adaptability: 1) relational coupling (connection and interdependence), requisite variety (matching internal to external complexity), network form (formal v. informal structures), and stress (the correct level of tension that generates change but does not destroy the system).  Taken together, these result in a few fundamental aspects that characterize CLT:

First, learning and adaptability are the result of what people do in an organization; they are the result of collective action. … Second, the coevolution of human and social capital is at the heart of the collective action process. … Third, collective change agents are the competitive source of learning and adaptive responses. … Fourth, collective action needs to be stimulated, not controlled. … Last, while organizations need to stimulate emergent collective action they also have a bureaucratic nature and need to control organizational outcomes efficiently for exploitation. (Schreiber & Carley, 2008, p. 293-294).

This leads to the formulation of a tripartite structure of leadership that includes a traditional top-down administrative leadership best at exploitation (doing known things well), an adaptive leadership that emerges from collective action and the co-evolution of human and social capital that is well suited to exploring the novel, and an enabling leadership that interfaces the other two and intentionally creates the conditions for adaptive leadership to thrive (Uhl-Bien, Marion & McKelvey, 2008).

To help crystallize some of the differences that CL offers from more traditional approaches, Donde Plowman and Dennis Duchon in “Dispelling the Myths about Leadership” (2008) identify four myths about leadership in the knowledge era organization and suggest new formulations (adapted from Table 6.3, p. 144):

Table 1: Cybernetic and Emergent Leadership Compared

As can be seen, this describes a very different view of leadership capability in the individual.

## Analysis

### Overview

CLT’s primary focus is on the exterior quadrants, especially changing individual or team behaviors (UR) and also system processes (LR) to enable correlation, novelty, creativity, and adaptability to emerge in any interaction between individuals and groups.  Necessarily there is development required in the cultural quadrant (LL) representing in the organization what is essentially a new paradigm for how the firm works.  Sense-making both for the organization (LL) and the individual (UL) radically shifts with the complexity lens, but it is in the culture of the organization that the collective makes meaning of perceived events in this different way.

### Individual Behaviors (UR)

Armed with a new way of making meaning of how leadership emerges as a process, CL-aware individuals can behave (UR) in ways that promote this emergence.  The following are four examples of behaviors that might be targeted in a CL development program.

McKelvey (2008) in “Emergent Strategy via Complexity Leadership” considers what CEOs can do to speed up the development and appreciation of distributed intelligence (human and social capital) in their organizations and directs it away from unpromising uses while avoiding the creation of a command-and-control structure.  CEOs should ensure that the organization is exposed to the appropriate set of adaptive tensions and manage them at the most effective levels to promote creative emergence (not too “hot” too push into chaos, and not too “cold” to settle into static sinkholes).  When individuals and groups are exposed to tensions in this way the theory says they tend to spontaneously self-organize in structures that dissipate the tension through creative and novel collaborations, producing the greatest value (rents) for the organization.  The CEO needs to carefully harness the vision of strong charismatic leaders without those visions becoming static fixed-point attractors of organizational energy.  And finally, the CEO needs to use traditional command-and-control practice to attach slack resources to the legitimate tensions of organizational mission to manage the agency problem of misalignment.

Middle managers are often in the best position to create the enabling conditions for adaptive leadership to develop.  In “Complexity Leadership Theory”, Uhl-Bien, Marion, and McKelvey (2008) focus on fostering interaction, interdependency, and injecting adaptive tension. Interaction creates the networks through which information and resources flow and connect. Managers can create open work spaces, self-selected work groups, and adjust schedules and interaction rules.  They can create cross-group initiatives or coordination.  They can create interactions outside the organization.  They can support individuals to build out their personal networks, keep themselves informed of organizational and industry issues, and monitor the environment.  Interdependency creates a pressure to act on information.  Creating and managing conflicting constraints leads to active engagement between parties.  Tension creates an imperative to adapt and promoting heterogeneity tends to create these positive tensions.  Individuals can generate tension by welcoming creative tension in their engagements with others.

Lord (2008) suggests in “Beyond Transactional and Transformational Leadership” that background field (context) biasing factors around emotion, goals, and identity lead to useful bottom-up emergence.  That is, by exhibiting positive emotions, by talking about goals as something to be reached for rather than trying not to fail to achieve, and by triggering prosocial (collective) identity rather than proself (individual) identity behaviors, these contexts bias interactions in a general way.  These behaviors can come from anyone in the organization but formal leaders may have more influence because of their granted authority.

Schreiber and Carley (2008) in “Network Leadership” focus on behaviors that affect context and process.  By encouraging the right organizational contexts collective action emerges in response to change or tensions.  Collective action is required for superior information processing and the faster organizational learning speed that sustains superior performance.  The contexts the authors call out are the right levels of interdependency (relational coupling), requisite variety of knowledge diversity to enable the right balance of exploration v. exploitation (March, 1996), certain social network structures that defer to expertise rather than authority, and the right level of organizational tension. Improving collective intelligence is at the core of CL and the processchanges necessary come from shaping the communications structures.  Human and social capital (what we know and who we know) co-evolves from the tension of communication structure changes.  How centrally-hubbed are individuals to local information flow?  How well connected for the diffusion of knowledge?  Can employees be groomed as boundary spanners across siloed groups with significant structural holes between them?  And to what degree is the interface between the formal structures and the adaptive informal structures connected as they indeed must be?  The ability to recognize and create these conditions appears to me to require very sophisticated skills that can be developed in the enabling leader.

### Purpose – the interior experience of the individual (UL)

In all of the sources considered in this paper there was only one “A Complexity Perspective on Leadership Development” (Van Velsor, 2008) that addresses what is needed developmentally of the individual.  Daniel Weberg’s recent case study dissertation on complexity leadership turned up very little on the interior side (Weberg, 2013).  Weberg collected data to begin describing that space (D. Weberg, personal communication, April 14, 2014) but the case study literature is sparse.  A second book by Uhl-Bien and Marion is slated to address this gap.  CL requires relatively sophisticated behaviors for the nurturance of creativity, innovation and adaptation within groups of people that are embedded in a formal organizational structure.  The traditional formal structure has many incentives for interpersonal competition, self-promotion, and often very weak conflict resolution capacity.  CL requires a very enlightened view in these areas, even going so far as to encourage conflict and its resolution in productive ways.

I consider the implications for leadership development in a later section.

### Lines and Stages

Lines are a useful way of separating some dimensions of development and as Forman and Ross (2013) see them, dimensions of intelligence.  They call out six lines – cognitive, interpersonal, intrapersonal, moral, spiritual, and physical.  Reams (2005) adds an emotional line.  “One implication of differentiating the various streams of development is that it helps us understand how we can be at different levels of development in different areas of our lives” (Reams, 2005, p. 122) which in turn has implications for leadership development. CLT in its broadest description heavily addresses the cognitive and interpersonal, implicitly requires intrapersonal development, but does not address emotional, moral, spiritual, or physical lines at this point.  Forman and Ross simplify the spectrum of developmental stages by specifying characteristics that define them as early (doing their own work), middle (coordinating or managing through others), or late (guiding whole groups).

Cognitively, CL requires a mind shift (UL, LL) from seeing organization as machine to organization as organism or complex system.  CLT does not envision the leader role inhabited formally by particular people but rather by a variety of people at various times with particular skill sets.  CLT sees adaptive and enabling leadership arising from the interactions of all people at various times.  At the individual level it requires some people in organizations to look for opportunities to enable the adaptive organizational response at the same time they acknowledge the traditional coordination and programmatic roles that administrative (formal) leaders continue to play.  At the collective level, culture (LL) and systems (LR) must accommodate this shift.  This shift requires the ability to hold multiple realities and paradox simultaneously in dialectic tension, to be aggressively learning.  This corresponds to a late or advanced cognitive developmental level.

At its core CL is about supporting interpersonal interaction that is generative of innovation, creativity, and adaptability.  All the novelty and microevolution that creates forward motion at a macro level happens between people.  With any focus on the interpersonal, that requires a substantial intrapersonal level of development.  This enablement therefore happens in all quadrants but CLT has little to say about exactly what kind of development on the interior side must occur for this to be successful.   CLT includes a mention of what Vallacher & Nowak (2008) call dynamical social psychology (2008) but their focus is more on the mechanisms that bind individuals into social aggregates rather than on what it takes for an individual to develop the awareness and skills to do this work successfully.  Again, the stage of development of both the inter- and intrapersonal lines for enabling leaders is probably late stage.  It is important to note, however, that CLT assumes mixed levels of development to exist simultaneously across the employee population and that uninitiated staff may blossom (innovation, creativity, and adaptability) in an enabled situation without any real awareness of CL.

## Meaning-making Systems

Forman & Ross capture the adult development work of Don Beck and Chris Cowan (based on Clare Graves), and Torbert (based on Loevinger and Cook-Greuter) to describe meaning-making systems that individuals and collectives tend to inhabit as “containers”. These containers roughly correspond to the combined profile of all the simultaneously functioning lines at their respective stages of development.   These containers describe how we make sense of our experiences rather than what we think about our experiences.  The transitions we make from container to container are critical and are the subject of leadership development programs. We first explore a container’s boundaries when we “arrive”.  At times it can become a crucible for forging identity.  And finally, an eggshell to be broken through as we move to a new container. Forman and Ross (2013) simplify the Spiral Dynamics scheme (Beck & Cowan, 2006) a bit into four basic systems (impulsive, diplomatic, achiever, and pluralist) and one integral system that embraces them all.  Each of the four basic levels is centered in a particular quadrant – impulsive (UL), diplomatic (UR), achiever (LR), and pluralist (LL).  The integral system sees all quadrants rising simultaneously.

It is key to note that CLT takes the practical stance that the organization will always be filled with individuals and collectives that operate in any one system (or multiples simultaneously) and that the mix itself has utility.  On the one hand, the formal organization may comprise traditional managers operating the administrative leadership functions from any one of the five systems but there is sure to be a liberal mix of the basic four meaning-making systems at play.  And on the other hand, the adaptive leadership that emerges from interaction and interdependence is likely to be enhanced by a diverse mixture of types, as is usually the case for any kind of variation that increases novelty. But in my opinion, the enabling leadership and those engaged in adaptive leadership will tend to be operating primarily from the pluralist or even integral systems.  A more detailed discussion follows.

### Individual Meaning-making Systems

Impulsive types operate from emotion and are oriented around “me”.  Diplomatic types focus on “we” but are tied rigidly to a black and white view of what works.  Neither is very suitable for the nuanced and somewhat improvisational requirement of intentionally creating the conditions for creative, innovative, and adaptive emergent behavior.  The achiever system starts to embrace the rationale and thoughtful aspects the new CL paradigm requires and values the idea that “knowledge is power” (but get it and keep it) and of human and social capital rising together  (“work is an extension of what you know and who you know”), but the notion that “a well-managed company runs like a well-oiled machine” is indicative that this container is severely limited at a fundamental level (Forman & Ross, 2013, p. 88).  The pluralist container on the other hand concurs that “knowledge is power, which is precisely why it should be shared” and “ a well-run company will grow if it is cultivated like a well-tended garden” (p. 99).  There is the needed paradigm shift.

### Collective Meaning-making Systems

Collective meaning-making itself sits in the land of culture (beliefs, values, expectations, priorities, status, power, conflict resolution, habits) and systems (metrics, finance, accounting, regulatory, law, policy, communication channels, etc.).The four containers also are useful in looking at the collective form.  Local norms and strong personal empire-like leadership drive an organization that defines itself as impulsive.  It is not likely that CL will thrive in this environment.  If the byline for diplomatic is “what is prevails over what might be” and the premise that there is one right and optimal answer for every problem, then again this container does not suit.  Likewise, achiever is about exploitation (doing specific things well) rather than exploration (responding to novel changes by learning and adaptation).  Standards, competence, and continuous performance improvement are signature qualities of this type of organization or unit. Pluralist culture values stewardship, community building, consensus, relationships, emotional intelligence, and may eschew hierarchy.  Although these are important qualities for adaptive or enabling leadership, the level of uniformity, “being on the same page”, is likely to put the pluralist system in conflict with the CL paradigm.

### Integral Meaning-making System

The integral meaning-making system by definition embraces the other four systems.  This is a perfect start for CLT in that it assumes that the mix of types present in the organization is valuable if managed, for emergent creativity, innovation, and adaptation.  “Because they are less identified with their roles, integral minds are more able to stay present and grounded amidst high levels of complexity, diversity, and change” (Forman & Ross, 2013, p. 135). Who wouldn’t want integral individuals and collectives operating in their organization?  But are they necessary? My sense is that they are, even if they are few in number.  There must be a center of gravity, distributed or not, that holds the vision of the CL program in the organization, at least at first until the culture and systems start to build upon themselves and the individuals and collective see the power of the CL approach and are changed by it.

## Implications for Leadership Development

In her article “A Complexity Perspective on Leadership Development” Van Velsor (2008) sets the task of leadership as “setting direction, creating alignment, and building commitment”.  Further, “leadership development has to do with the development of systematic processes, collective practices, and organizational cultures that facilitate the emergence of leadership as an outcome of interaction around shared work” (p. 334).  Santana (2008) recalls Heifetz’s “adaptive challenges” that leaders in a complex world routinely face for which no technical solution exists.  New approaches to unforeseen situations require the development of a leadership capacity to enable an individual or collective’s ability to deal with this complexity.

In the end, the potential program for developing a CL capability in an organization is very ill-formed at this early stage.  The systems changes required are vaguely conceived to be redesigned to encourage rather than suppress interpersonal dynamics, and this notion must get embedded in the culture.  The required cognitive changes are from a control orientation to an enabling role.  Individual interior development is about the perspective change required to re-conceptualize one’s role, a self-awareness shift to understand the need to develop new skills, and behavior changes to enact the new role.  At this point it appears to go no deeper than that.

Henri Lipmanowicz and Keith McCandless (Plexus Institute) espouse an interesting perspective in their recently published book “Liberating Structures” (2013).  Their work defines a catalog of 33 “adaptable microstructures that make it quick and simple for groups of people of any size to radically improve how they interact and work together.” (Lipmanowicz & McCandless, 2013, p. 21).  The term Liberating Structures was first introduced by William Torbert to denote structures that support people to develop skills to guide themselves.   Liberating Structures promote full participation to leverage the experience and creativity of everyone in an interactive learning mode.  They enable high levels of creative dynamics in lieu of the five commonly used means of traditional organizational interaction (presentations, reportbacks, managed dialog, brainstorms, open discussion).  There are many case studies that give evidence that using these structures promote microevolution via creative, innovative, and adaptive outcomes at the fine-grained level.  The authors contend that experiencing these interactions changes the participants, their view of the organization, and their place within it (their meaning-making systems).  Leadership arises, bottom-up, from this very local but highly distributed (anyone can do it) intervention.  If this is actually the case, then it may be that other bottom-up mechanisms (e.g., positive deviance) circumvent the top-down leadership development problem faced by CL as well.

Finally, Van Velsor identifies three conditions that might promote a successful development program: 1) a high visibility CL program that itself acts as a catalyst, laying a “practice field” for enabling enhanced interactive dynamics, 2) strong senior executive sponsorship and modeling of the enabling leadership behaviors, and 3) a very strong action-reflection practice that highlights the value of distributed intelligence so that learning gains an equal footing in the typical action-oriented organizational culture.

## Conclusion

The AQAL framework has proved to be an interesting way to evaluate complexity leadership theory.  It is easy to see that the individual interior quadrant requires more “light”, and one wonders what impact exploring the other lines of development (emotional, moral, spiritual, physical) might have.  Enabling leadership can abide and be empowered by the full range of meaning-making systems inhabited by individuals in the organization, but clearly the most traction for enablement will come from the pluralist and integral systems.  The model explicitly names administrative leadership (exploitation, “doing things well”) as a necessary component of a whole organization alongside enabling and adaptive leadership (exploration, “doing novel things”).  Furthermore, AQAL is a useful common platform to compare CLT with other leadership theories, which is a topic for further exploration.

On a final note, leading, leadership, and leaders are embedded in the ways we make meaning together.  The CT lens is becoming more prevalent within academia and business.  Thinking well about what that perspective affords the practitioner, as well as what it obscures, will surely have value as the paradigm of command and control organizations shifts to more agile and complex organizational structures.  There is much to explore.

### References

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• Beck, D. E. and Cowan, C.C. (2006). Spiral dynamics: Mastering values, leadership, and change. Malden, MA: Blackwell.
• Bryne, D. and Callaghan, G. (2014). Complexity theory and the social sciences: The state of the art. New York City, NY: Routledge.
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• Drath, W. (2000). The deep blue sea: Rethinking the sources of leadership. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
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• Goldstein, J. (2008). Conceptual foundations of complexity science: Development and main constructs. In M. Uhl-Bien & R. Marion (Eds.), Complexity leadership: Part I: Conceptual foundations (pp. 17-48). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, Inc.
• Lipmanowicz, H. and McCandless, K. (2014). Liberating Structures FAQ. Retrieved on May 13, 2014 from http://www.liberatingstructures.com/faq-full-text/
• Lord, R. G. (2008). Beyond transactional and transformational leadership: Can leaders still lead when they don’t know what to do? In M. Uhl-Bien & R. Marion (Eds.), Complexity leadership: Part I: Conceptual foundations (pp. 155-184). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, Inc.
• March, J. G. (1996). Exploration and exploitation in organizational learning. In M. D. Cohen & L. S. Sproull (Eds.), Organizational Learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
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• Plowman, D. A. & Duchon, D. (2008). Dispelling the myths about leadership: From cybernetics to emergence. In M. Uhl-Bien & R. Marion (Eds.), Complexity leadership: Part I: Conceptual foundations (pp. 129-154). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, Inc.
• Reams, J. (2005). What is integral about leadership? Integral Review, Issue 1.
• Santana, L. (2008). Integral theory’s contribution to leader and leadership development, Integral Leadership Review, VIII, 23, June.
• Schreiber, C. and Carley, K. M. (2008). Network leadership: Leading for learning and adaptability. In M. Uhl-Bien & R. Marion (Eds.), Complexity leadership: Part I: Conceptual foundations (pp. 291-331). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, Inc.
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• Uhl-Bien, M., Marion, R. (2008). Complexity leadership: Part I: Conceptual foundations. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, Inc.
• Uhl-Bien, M., Marion, R., and McKelvey, B. (2008). Complexity leadership theory: Shifting leadership from the industrial age to the knowledge era. In M. Uhl-Bien & R. Marion (Eds.),Complexity leadership: Part I: Conceptual foundations (pp. 185-224). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, Inc.
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### About the Author

Jim Best, Ph.D. Student (Organizational Leadership and Transformation), Saybrook University

Jim’s past work in healthcare IT (Kaiser Permanente) as a Principle Enterprise Architect supporting care delivery systems clients (especially nursing and hospital operations) has afforded him a unique view of the workings of a large and diverse organization under the duress of complex industry, technology, and policy changes.

Now as a full-time student and part-time consultant, Jim brings a whole systems, complexity and network thinking lens to his study and work.  He is currently contributing to efforts that weave together, in theory and practice, approaches augmenting complexity leadership with front-line practice that enable full, innovative, and adaptive participation of those affecting organizational transformation.   His other focus is on using social network analysis to enhance innovation, collaboration, innovation diffusion, and network-based interventions for transformation in health care organizations.

Contact: best.jim@gmail.com | LinkedIn

# Integral Conscious Evolution

Learner Papers

Jorge Taborga

Abstract

This essay examines conscious evolution through an integral lens. It presents a perspective on the dilemma of our times focusing on evolutionary responsibility. Evolution is examined from the dimensions of depth and complexity, or subjectivity and objectivity. Frameworks are explored encapsulating human evolution from both of these dimensions. The integral framework is presented as informed by integral theory. Wilber’s integral constructs of All-Quadrants, All-Levels and All-Lines (AQAL), levels and lines of development, states, and types are introduced. The author presents a holon for conscious evolution. This holon is explored for each of its quadrants, and their corresponding levels and lines of development are proposed in the context of conscious evolution. This proposal is presented both from a theoretical and an experiential basis. The author shares his own experiences in his journey toward conscious evolution.

• Introduction
• The Dilemma of Our Time
• Depth and Complexity
• The Integral Framework
• Levels of Development
• Lines of Development
• States
• Types
• The Conscious Evolution Holon
• Subjective Levels of Development
• Subjective Lines of Development
• Objectified Levels of Development
• Objectified Lines of Development
• Intersubjective Levels of Development
• Intersubjective Lines of Development
• Interobjective Levels of Development
• Interobjective Lines of Development
• Conclusion
• References

### Introduction

Evolution is a constant in the human experience, although we interpret it in different manners. To some, particularly science, evolution is an accidental progression that yielded the cosmos, our planet and life. To others, it is a process created by a supreme being as part of a master plan. Regardless of our beliefs, life in the universe evolves with new stars being born, galaxies forming, and life on planet Earth continuing in a constant state of flux.

According to scientific analysis, the evolution of the universe started with the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago and will continue for an indefinite period of time (Alles, 2010). We humans are as much a part of this cosmic evolution as any galaxy or star. Even with the increasing sophistication of scientific methods and tools, we cannot predict where evolution will take us. It is not clear if our degree of evolution on Earth is the most evolved in the universe and if it can continue further. What is certain is that we as a species are changing and that to a large degree, we have control of what happens to life on Earth (Banathy, 2000).

There is significant debate about the sustainability of our planet (Schor & Taylor, 2003). Driven by scientific evidence, some adhere to the notion that Earth is a planet in peril. Others deny this notion and sustain that life will continue its course and that humans do not need to worry. Global warming has been identified as one of the threats to sustainability (Letcher, 2009). Figure 1 shows the multi-year results of a survey about global warming. In it, only 36% of those surveyed currently believe that global warming is an issue we should worry about.

Figure 1. Gallup poll on global warming (Jones, 2014). The question asked in the survey was, “Do you think that global warming will pose a serious threat to you or your way of life in your lifetime?”

In contrast to the results of the survey in Figure 1, scientists are 95% to 100% certain that increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases produced by human activity such as the burning of fossil fuel and deforestation are contributing to global warming (Letcher, 2009). Figure 2 shows the increase in temperature on Earth since the 19th century.

Figure 2. Global Land-Ocean temperature index (Earth: The operator’s manual, 2014). This graph shows the increase in temperature by about one degree Celsius since the start of the 20thcentury.

Aside from global warning, there are other pressing issues related to our sustainability. Water and food shortages are becoming more prevalent due to increasing population (Hulme, 2013). Deforestation not only contributes to global warming but also to atmospheric and hydrological, soil erosion, and biodiversity loss. Along with impact to human life, we are also experiencing dramatic species extinction (Hulme, 2013). Over a thousand species have disappeared over the last 500 years (Center for Biological Diversity, 2014).

The large discrepancy between the facts of our planet being in peril and the response from Earth’s inhabitants to it point to significant differences in the understanding of evolution. It is hard to conceptualize that anyone who has internalized how life came to being in the 13.8‑billion-year cosmic journey would be apathetic to the sustainability challenges we are experiencing. Figure 3, also a Gallup survey, shows differences in cosmological understanding.

Figure 3. Gallup survey over the last 30 years showing the cosmology perspective of those surveyed in the United States (Evolution, Creationism, and Intelligent Design, 2014). The survey asked the following question: “Which of the following statements comes closest to your views on the origin and development of human beings: a) human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but guided this process; b) human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process, or c) God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so?”

The graph in Figure 3 shows that 46% of those surveyed in the United States believe that God created humans in their present form in the last 10,000 years or so. That notion completely negates the main tenants of cosmic evolution. My first reaction to this data was that perhaps the 46% corresponded to mostly uneducated people. This notion was somewhat invalidated in conversations I had with highly educated individuals in my workplace who sustain that humans were created in their present form, and no more than 10,000 years ago.

This essay will make a case that a certain level of development (maturity) in terms of subjective and objective experiences is necessary for someone to connect with our evolutionary reality and have appreciation for it. This appreciation translates into not only the recognition of where evolution has brought us but what we need to do in order to actively participate in it. The solution to the problems of our planet may entirely rest in the hands of the individuals who have reached a level of maturity needed to connect with evolution itself.

Integral theory will be used as the lens to present the case. The integral theoretical framework places a person at the center of its subjective and objective experience both in individual and collective contexts. Given that the integral lens is completely experiential (Esbjorn-Hargens, 2010), I will bring my own evolutionary experience into the core of the essay, understanding the risks of balancing academic research with subjectivity. In this fashion, this essay aims to build an intersubjective reality with the reader.

I submit that conscious evolution is a personal journey, and it is necessary to make meaning of it (internalize it) before it makes sense. Over the last 30 years, a meta-discipline has emerged on the subject of conscious evolution, which is the output of the personal evolutionary journey of a number of luminaries. Its main purpose is to identify and develop a path to a sustainable planetary future based on the concept that human evolution can be guided. The proponents and contributors to this meta-discipline—such as Bela H. Banathy, David Bohm, Eric Chaisson, Duane Elgin, Erich Jantsch, Ervin Laszlo, Brian Swimme, Ken Wilber, and Barbara Hubbard—define and describe a developmental path that we can deliberately establish, resulting in an consciousness shift similar to when we gained awareness of self over 50,000 years ago (Banathy, 2003b). Social scientist Bela Banathy summarized the intent of the conscious evolution meta-discipline with the following statements:

The right of people to guide their destiny; to take part directly in decisions affecting their lives; to create healthy, authentic, and nurturing evolutionary communities; and to control their resources and govern themselves is a most fundamental human right. If people learn how to exercise this right, then they have the power to create a civil society, a true democracy, in which they can design their own lives, participate in the evolutionary design of the systems in which they live and work, and organize their individual and collective lives in the service of the common goal. (Banathy, 2000, p. 2)

### The Dilemma of Our Time

Our history is plagued with end-of-the-world scenarios. Our documented doomsday prophecies date as far back as 634 BCE, when many Romans believed that the city would be destroyed in the 120th anniversary of its founding (Vacker, 2012). The latest predictions about the end of the world were associated with the Mayan calendar that pointed at the year 2012 as the end of times (Vacker, 2012). I provide these references because I worry that our scientific predictions about climate change, water scarcity, and other modern complications may simply be more sophisticated “end-of-the-world” predictions backed by scientific observations that may be based on narrow perspectives.

In my mind, we should not embrace an evolutionary consciousness only because of the possibility of a large impact to life in our planet. We should do so because we understand the enormity of evolution itself and that at this point in our development we have influence in what happens next to our species, other species on Earth, and perhaps the planet itself.

To gain a deeper appreciation for where we are in our planet’s evolution, it is important to understand climate changes and levels of carbon dioxide. Both of these conditions significantly affect life (Letcher, 2009). Climate change has been part of our planet’s history. There have been five major ice ages in the 4.7 billion years since the formation of Earth (Woodward, 2014). We are currently in the Quaternary glaciation that started 2.58 million years ago. Within each ice age, we experience cycles of glaciation with ice sheets advancing and retreating on 40,000- and 100,000-year time scales called glacial and interglacial periods.

Earth is currently in an interglacial period (Woodward, 2014). The last glacial period ended about 10,000 years ago. All that remains of the continental ice sheets are Greenland and Antarctic and smaller glaciers such as the ones on Baffin Island (Woodward, 2014). Population development greatly advanced in the last 10,000 years from an estimated 1 million inhabitants to our current level of nearly 7 billion humans. This growth was made possible by many technological advances, but having a warmer planet was a significant condition.

Figure 4 shows three superimposed graphs of the amount of flooding, the fluctuation in temperature, and the concentration of carbon dioxide in our planet across eras from the Precambrian to the current Cenozoic. In this figure, we can graphically appreciate that in our current epoch (Holocene), we have the greatest amount of inhabitable landmass, the least amount of temperature fluctuation, and the least concentration of carbon dioxide. These three conditions have not previously occurred in the history of Earth. We are living in a unique period of geological wonder. This alone makes our current life conditions miraculous regardless of any cosmological belief. Whether God architected the life conditions we now enjoy or had nothing to do with them, we live in very special times that have taken 4.7 billion years to reach.

Figure 4. Life condition markers across Earth’s eras (Nahle, 2007).

From the information in Figure 4, we can discern that the dilemma of our times is not so much temperature or carbon dioxide because both have widely varied and have been at unsustainable levels to support life before. I believe the dilemma we face has do to with providing dignified life conditions to our large population, the harmonious coexistence with the remaining species, and maintaining our natural environment with as much life-sustaining capability as possible for as long as we can. After all, we know from geology that at some point life conditions will drastically change as we return to another ice age (Woodward, 2014).

I do not believe we have the power to affect cosmic evolution, including what happens to our planet in the long run. Our own sun—a star—will cease to exist in approximately 6 billion years (Cain, 2012). This seems like an eternity to worry about in anyone’s lifetime. However, I go back to how precious life is in the present moment considering all that had to take place since the Big Bang for us to enjoy a cup of coffee at Starbucks. What is sad about our human evolution is that not everyone can enjoy that cup of coffee; and this is where the opportunity lies. We can consciously evolve as a species taking care of all humans, other species, and our home planet

### Depth and Complexity

At the heart of evolution are depth and complexity. Depth refers to our subjective and intersubjective development, the degree of consciousness we exhibit individually and collectively (Esbjorn-Hargens, 2010). Complexity is associated with our physical reality, which has advanced from the moment two hydrogen atoms combined to form helium to our sophisticated technologies and social environments. This section explores the evolutionary aspects of our physicality (complexity) and our psychic and cultural evolution (depth).

Our evolutionary history starts with the Big Bang, estimated to have taken place 13.8 billion years ago (Alles, 2010). From the Big Bang, about 400 million years transpired before atomic structures necessary for the formation of stars manifested and about a billion years to the start of the first galaxies. Our current universe developed in the subsequent 13 billion years. About 4.6 billion years ago, our solar system was originated and, with it, our planet. Life on Earth started 3.8 billion years later, and our research shows that humanoids—our ancestors—surfaced around 7 million years ago (Banathy 2000; Banathy, 2003b; Alles, 2010).

As astrophysicist Eric Chaisson (2005a, 2005b) stated, evolution seems to be wired into the DNA of the universe. Chaisson posited that no matter what we do, the universe continues to expand and change. Seventy-two percent of the known universe is composed of dark energy (Alles, 2010). We understand very little what this dark energy does or where it comes from. What we do know is that it is the force responsible for the expansion of the universe. It acts as an anti-gravitational force that pushes the universe to seek new order in the formation of additional stellar structures.

We do not know where the cosmic evolutionary process is headed. There is even scientific evidence that our universe may not be the only one in existence (Chaisson, 2005a). What we do know is that evolution moves us into higher levels of complexity. Chaisson (2005b) studied this phenomenon particularly in relationship to entropy. This second law of thermodynamics tells us that disorder is the natural state of things, and it takes energy to create order. A planet requires more order than a star, and a star requires more order than a galaxy to exist. Consequently, evolution requires higher rates of energy to create and sustain newer structures.

Chaisson (2005b, 2010) developed a measure of the rate of energy required to sustain higher levels of evolution. He conceived this measure in units or erg/second/gram and called it energy-rate-density. It measures the amount of energy flow through a given mass. Higher order structures like the human body require a much larger amount of energy-rate-density to keep it together than a star. Figure 5 shows Chaisson’s evolutionary timeline for complexity as measured by energy-rate-density.

Figure 5. Evolution timetable measured in energy-rate-density units of erg/second/gram (Chaisson, 2005a, 2005b). The evolution timeline is in increments of 10 million years. The evolution of life on Earth took place over the last one billion years with society originating about 50,000 years.

Figure 5 shows that the amount of energy-rate-density to hold a galaxy together has a value of “1” erg/second/gram in contrast with society that registers close to 1 million of the same units. This figure makes the case for the increasing levels of complexity as evolution moves into higher levels of structures and the requirement for more energy to keep it together.

Chaisson (2005b, 2010) divided our evolutionary history into three eras: Energy, Matter and Life. He stated that we are now entering the Life Era even though we have had life on Earth for the last 4 billion years. However, he posited that for the first time in our evolutionary history, life is more dominant than matter (Chaisson, 2005b). Chaisson (2005b) also pointed to the fact that we are evolving at a much higher rate than our natural environment. This astrophysicist surmised that we have to change our way of living and adapt to the natural Earth environment, or we have to build synthetic environments to sustain our way of living, including food. As Chaisson remarked, our role in the Life Era is one of co-creation.

Humans physically evolved into the homo-sapiens-sapiens (HSS) and started to advance culturally only in the last 50,000 years (Banathy, 2003b). Table 1 provides a summary of the cultural advancement characteristics defined by paleoanthropologist Rick Potts and covered in Banathy’s (2000) Guided Evolution of Society: A Systems View. This table was used by Banathy to describe the cultural evolution of the leading to the HSS.

Table 1: Cultural Advancement Definitions by Rick Potts Synthesized from Banathy (2000)

 Cultural Advancement Definition Transmission Transfer of information between individuals. Higher level of transfer requires more social encounters. Memory Retain information to which the person was exposed. Reiteration Tendency to reproduce or imitate stored behaviors or transmitted information Innovation Capacity to alter transmitted information or generate new as a result of the development of new skills or variations Selection Process by which a social group blocks or filters certain innovations and maintains others Symbolic Coding Ability to develop and use language/communication that can be used by others Institutions Association containers with specific cultural functions

Using the definitions in Table 1, we can construct an evolutionary lens into the cultural advancements of the precursors to the HSS.

Table 2 shows how each major humanoid was limited in its advancement and required the next form to acquire higher cultural characteristics. For instance, the Archaics survived and gave birth to modern humans, the HSS. They were able to achieve symbolic coding given their longer larynx that enabled them to speak, in contrast to the shorter one of the Neanderthals that limited their ability to verbally communicate (Banathy, 2000). In addition, the Archaics were able to perform selection, improving their ability to adapt and use tools. In contrast, the Neanderthals left their tools behind when they relocated and had to rebuild them at the next location (Banathy, 2000). They could not “select” and change what their ancestors did before. The Neanderthals’ limited selection and absence of symbolic coding may have contributed to the disappearance of this humanoid species.

Table 2: Cultural Advancement for the Major Humanoid Species

 Cultural Advancement Afrensis4M Africanus3M Habilis2.5M Erectus2M Neanderthal0.5M Archaics1M Human35K Transmission Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Memory Limited Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Reiteration Limited Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Innovation Limited Yes Yes Yes Yes Selection Limited Yes Yes Symbolic Coding Limited Yes Institutions Yes

Note: This table is an adaptation and synthesis of the human evolution narrative in Banathy (2000) using the cultural advancement definition by Rick Potts.

Banathy (2000, 2003b) introduced the concept of four generations of modern humans. The first—the Cro-Magnon—is only 50,000 years old. The Cro-Magnons were the first humans to develop self-awareness. Their predecessors—humanoids, early homo-sapiens, and Neanderthals—did not have a consciousness distinct from their environment. During the 7 million years that the humanoid form graced this Earth, consciousness was a dreamlike state that was undifferentiated from nature. This dreamlike state of consciousness changed and acquired self-identification when the homo-sapiens-sapiens, or Cro-Magnon, burst into the evolutionary scene around the beginning of the Upper Paleolithic era (Banathy, 2000). Their consciousness model was magical, sensory based, capable of reflection, and focused on “today.” Cro-Magnons lived in tribes and manufactured a number of tools, primarily for hunting (Banathy, 2000). It took another 25,000 years or so for them to develop into the second generation of humans with the advent of agriculture.

The Agrarian Age emerged about 12,000 years ago (Alles, 2010). It started with agricultural villages developing into the big cities of the Hellenic period followed by the Byzantine and Roman empires. This Age ended with the decline of civilizations in the Dark Ages. At the start of the Agrarian Age, collective consciousness shifted from a magical to a mythical context. Also, the mostly sensory reflectivity developed into emotional. The “live-in-the-present” focus of the Cro-Magnons evolved into one of planning and preparation for future events, such as the harvest, storing food, and building edifices (Banathy, 2000). Language played a key role in the development of this second generation human. Spiritually, Mother Earth was the center of attention, and rituals correlated to the need for rain, crop, and protection from the elements.

The second generation of humans is responsible for building our ancient civilizations from Mesopotamia, to Greece, to Egypt, and to Rome, and the ones in Asia and South America (Banathy, 2000). A new myth emerged in these civilizations based on the separation of the sky and Earth. This precipitated the concept of heaven and a God that lives in the skies. Writing allowed these civilizations to perpetuate their knowledge and make it available to the next generations. Technology evolved allowing them to build and become more efficient in their work endeavors.

The third generation of humans entered the scene at the end of the Middle Ages (Banathy, 2003b). It was the Renaissance that gave birth to our current human generation. This era has been called The Age of Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, and the Age of Science and Technology. This age brought (a) a new level of consciousness: mental consciousness; (b) the printed word, which became a new mode of mass communication evolving into our connected social media; (c) scientific pursuits leading to today’s technological advances; (d) industrial/ machine technology; and (e) capitalism (Banathy, 2000). Nation states became the social structures for third-generation humans, and technological development exploded into a multitude of directions. The third-generation human gained—for the first time—control of life.

From a human complexity perspective, we are at the portal of what Banathy called the “fourth generation” human (2003b). According to Banathy, what distinguishes this fourth generation from its predecessors is evolutionary consciousness. He also posited that we are the first generation of humans that have access to concrete information regarding the human trajectory and the knowledge of where this trajectory can lead (Banathy, 2003b).

Table 3 recaps the cultural advancement of Banathy’s four generations of humans using the Rick Potts framework. Banathy placed the inception of the fourth generation in current time. The characteristics corresponding to this generation in Table 3 are to some degree speculative.

Table 3: The Cultural Advancement for the Four Human Generations

 Cultural Advancement First GenerationCro-Magnons35K – 10K Second GenerationAgriculture / Ancient Civilizations10K – 0.5K Third GenerationScientific Industrial0.5K – today Fourth GenerationEmergingToday – Future Consciousness Magical, reflective, sensory Mythical, reflective, emotional Rational, reflective, mental Reflective, spiritual, ethical Transmission One-to-one One-to-many Many-to-many Any-to-any Memory Simple concepts Simple to Complicated Complicated to Complex Complex Reiteration Within tribe Within community Within nation to global Global Innovation Tools Agriculture, metal Industry, electricity, electronic communication Sustainable technologies, renewable energy Selection Family and Tribe Community Nations and some worldwide Global community Symbolic Coding Oral Written Print, Multi-media Rich-media, social media Institutions Tribes Ancient civilizations Nation states Global Federation

Note: This table is an adaptation from the information in Banathy (2000, 2003b).

Banathy (2000, 2003a, 2003b) stated that we are at the threshold of the emergence of our next evolutionary event. This event, he said, is marked by “conscious evolution, the self-guided emergence of the fourth generation of homo-sapiens-sapiens” (Banathy, 2003b, p. 313). The social scientist specified a number of markers that point to this threshold based on the evolutionary events that have preceded our three generations of humans.

Undoubtedly, our universe, our planet, and we have evolved in complexity since the Big Bang. Human development has accelerated since the time of the Cro-Magnons 50,000 years ago. But how about our subjective development, our depth? How do we understand our internal development both individually and collectively? This is a challenge that Graves undertook with his research as primarily documented in Spiral Dynamics: Mastering Values, Leadership, and Change (Beck & Cowan, 1996) and The Never Ending Quest (Cowan & Todorovic, 2005).

Through his research, Graves developed the Emergent Cyclical Levels of Existence Theory (ECLET) from the data he initially collected from 1952 to 1959 regarding the personality of the mature adult in operation and his extensive follow-up with his subjects (Lee, 2009). His researched yielded the following evolutionary psychic patterns:

• Expressing self impulsively at any cost—changing to
• Denying/sacrificing self for reward later—changing to
• Expressing self in calculating fashion and at the expense of others—changing to
• Denying/sacrificing self now for getting acceptance now—changing to
• Expressing self as self desires but not at the expense of other

There was a sixth classification that Graves noted in the transitions as individuals evolved in depth. This group was another deny/sacrifice self that evolved from the last express-self group that focused entirely on existential realities. It is at this point and throughout the 1960s that Graves developed and matured ECLET. His conclusion was that his classifications represented the amalgamation of unique life conditions and mind capacities (internalities) that form part of human evolution. The life conditions present the collection of problems that individuals need to solve, while the mind conditions correspond to the problem-solving neurology (psychic abilities) currently active in each individual. The recorded evolution from one group to the next had to do not only with a change in life conditions (new problems) but an internal transformation that readied the individual to operate at the new level.

As Graves prepared his first set of essays on ECLET, he added two entry-level classifications that preceded the first one he found, express self impulsively (Lee, 2009). In ECLET, Graves theorized that humans evolved from primitive humans to contemporary beings not just physically but socially and psychologically through what he concluded were eight levels of human existence combining life conditions with mind capacities. In his theories, Graves posited that the first six levels of human evolution are fixated on issues of subsistence ranging from physiological survival to mastery of materialism. The last two systems, he viewed, function at a higher octave repeating the basic patterns of the first six but operating at a level of existence no longer preoccupied with subsistence but rather focused on the higher purposes of being human.

Graves utilized a simple notation to refer to the eight value systems in ECLET. He used the letters A through H to represent the life conditions and the letters N through U to denote mind capacities. The pairing of the two letter sequences identifies each of the eight value systems. These are: A-N, B-O, C-P, D-Q, E-R, F-S, G-T and H-U. Using D-Q as an example, this is the sacrifice self for reward later level which has “D” life conditions or problems and “Q” mind capacities to solve them.

Graves conceived that humans evolve from A-N to H-U and beyond. However, he also found in his research that given harsh life condition changes, humans could regress to a lower level (Lee, 2009). Additionally, humans could enter or exist in an environment that is different from their mind capacities. For instance, humans with “R” mind capacities could be in a system with “D” life conditions. ECLET conceives mind conditions to be nested or accumulative. A person with “R” mind capacities has the neurology and psychic ability to understand and operate in any system ranging from A through E. Graves theorized that most humans operate in a combination of a sacrifice and express-self mind conditions (Cowan & Todorovic, 2008). His research showed that a small number of people operate in a single-mind condition system. He termed this rare mature adult in operation “nodal.”

According to ECLET, human beings transition from one system to the next when a number of conditions are met that result in a “higher level of neurological direction of behavior” (Cowan & Todorovic, 2008, p. 43). Graves identified six conditions necessary for the transition (Cowan & Todorovic, 2005). The first is the potential in the brain. Unless impaired, the potential for all systems exists in the human brain. Second, the individual should have resolved the existential problems in the current system. Third, a dissonance associated with the breakdown in the solutions at the current level must occur. Graves found that all individuals making a system transition do so after a period of crisis and actual regression. The fourth condition, and the one responsible for stopping the regressive process, is insight. This condition involves having insight into the new ways of solving problems. The next condition, the fifth, is overcoming barriers, including relationships and other constraints. Most relationships ground humans in one system and provide resistance for an individual to move on (Cowan & Todorovic, 2008). Consolidation is the sixth and final condition. It involves the practice and affirmation of the new way of solving problems.

To make Graves’ levels of evolution more accessible to the general public, author Chris Cowan devised a color scheme to replace the A-H and N-U letter nomenclature (Cowan & Todorovic, 2008). The colors denote only the “nodal” state of a system, not its life condition/mind capacity pairing. Table 4 provides the key attributes of the eight value system in ECLET.

Table 4: The Eight Value systems in ECLET

 Value System Spiral Dynamics Thinking Motivation Means/End Values Problem of Existence A-N Beige Automatic Physiological Purely reactive Maintaining physical stability B-O Purple Autistic Assurance Traditionalism/safety Achievement of relative safety C-P Red Egocentric Independence Exploitation/power Living with self-awareness D-Q Blue Absolutistic Peace of mind Sacrifice/salvation Achieving ever-lasting peace of mind E-R Orange Multiplistic Competency Scientific/materialism Conquering the physical universe F-S Green Relativistic Affiliation Sociocentry/community Living with all humans G-T Yellow Systemic Existence Accepting/existence Instilling sustainability in the planet H-U Turquoise Differential Experience Experiencing/communion Accepting existential dichotomies

Note: This table adds the color correspondence introduced by Beck and Cowan in their book,Spiral Dynamics. The contents of this table are based on the article “Human Nature Prepares for a Momentous Leap” published by The Futurist in 1974 (pp. 72-87) and reprinted in Cowan and Todorovic (2008).

The ECLET framework in its popularized form of Spiral Dynamics is widely used to understand and work with social groups of all types, including nations. It is an evolutionary lens with the capability of assisting with our role of co-creators. Following the definitions of each level in ECLET, the Yellow value system has been identified as the most likely source of fourth generation humans (Wilber, 2000; McIntosh, 2007). The Yellow mind capacities seem to be in alignment with the notion of looking at life at a cosmic level and understanding all other mind capacities and life conditions without prejudice. It follows that the work of these Yellow-minded individuals collaborating with all other levels of consciousness would result in the unfolding of the Life Era with the consideration for all of life and the embodiment of our role as co-creators (Chaisson, 2010).

### The Integral Framework

The word integral means comprehensive, inclusive, non-marginalizing, and embracing (Esbjorn-Hargens, 2010). An integral approach to any field aims to include as many perspectives, styles, and methodologies as possible within a coherent view of the topic (Wilber 2000, 2011). As mentioned in the introduction, I am using integral theory as the lens to describe my relationship with conscious evolution. Integral theory explores phenomena from subjective and objective perspectives, both at individual and collective contexts (Cacioppe & Edwards, 2005; Edwards 2005; Wilber 1997, 2000, 2011). As addressed in the previous section, the subjective experience corresponds to evolutionary depth and the objective to evolutionary complexity. This section introduces the integral framework and its connection to evolution.

Koestler (1990) introduced the term holon in his book titled The Ghost in the Machine. The wordholon is derived from a combination of the Greek holos, meaning whole, and the suffix on, suggesting a particle or a part, as in proton or neutron. In this definition, a holon is both a whole and a part and can be described in terms of its holistic and independent nature, as well as its dependent and interconnected components. Koestler envisioned that holons exist in a nested hierarchy, which he called holarchy (Edwards 2005). A holarchy differs from the more common network hierarchy in that the holarchy is an encapsulating construct, not just relational, as is a network. Holons exist within holons, which in turn live inside larger holons.

Koestler’s (1990) work with holons was motivated by his desire to establish a bridge between the Newtonian, or mechanistic, worldview, which places importance in the parts of a system, and a holistic view, which downplays the parts in favor of the whole (Wilber 2000). He also recognized the importance of the evolutionary process in social systems. Koestler sought to define a framework to understand social systems, which provide a balance between the micro‑level of individuality and the macro-level of collectivity.

Philosopher Ken Wilber, building upon Koestler’s holonic construct that defined an individual and a collective reality, added the concept that a holon also has an interior or subjective reality, and an exterior or objective reality (Esbjorn-Hargens, 2010). Wilber further extended Koestler’s construct in the articulation of the evolutionary properties of a holon, defined as stages and lines of development. Further, he articulated the premise that a holon co‑evolves through stages of development via synergistic integration of its individual-collective and interior-exterior realities (Esbjorn-Hargens, 2010; Edwards, 2005). Wilber’s stages of development synthesize the research of developmental psychologists including Piaget, Lovinger, Kegan, and Graves. For Wilber, lines of development are the capacities we need to master to solve the problems we face at each stage of development. This is consistent on how Graves conceptualized the stages in ECLET as a duple of life conditions and mind capacities (Merry, 2009).

Wilber introduced the integral framework to articulate the “fundamental domains in which change and development occur” (Edwards, 2005, p. 272). Wilber’s integral theory proposed that social phenomenon requires the consideration of at least two dimensions of existence: (a) interior-exterior, and (b) individual-collective (Wilber, 2000). The interior-exterior dimension corresponds to the subjective/reflective experience in relationship to the objective or behavior-based reality. In the second dimension, the individual-collective refers to the relationship of the experience of self-agency and that of community. The All-Quadrants, All‑Levels framework is represented as a 2 x 2 matrix demarcated by these two dimensions. Figure 6 shows this framework, its dimensions, and the definition of the resulting four quadrants.

Figure 6. This framework, an adaptation of Edwards (2005), shows the four organizational quadrants formed by the two existence dimensions of interior-exterior and individual-collective. The shaded arrows correspond to the dynamics inside the dimensions. The short vertical and horizontal lines represent the continuous and incremental changes that take place in life. The diagonal arrows correspond to developmental levels that denote transformational changes, typically associated with growth and integration.

In the framework shown in Figure 6, the upper left quadrant corresponds to the consciousness of individuals. This reflects their level of awareness, how they make meaning of life, how they interact with others, their beliefs, values, and intentions (Wilber, 2000). This is the internal world of individuals. According to Wilber and others, across the millennia and particularly over the last 50,000 years, we have evolved from an archaic/animistic idea of self to one that is more holistic and integral to the whole of life (Wilber, 2000; Edwards, 2005, Lee, 2009).

The cultural quadrant represents our evolution as a human collective (Edwards, 2005). Over 50,000 years ago, we did not have the idea of the “I” and the “you.” As these ideas came into being, the “we” was manifested, and with it we evolved into the sophisticated societies populating our planet today. We moved from clan life, to tribes, to power-controlled societies; then, we continued to evolve into absolutistic thinking, giving way to modernism, postmodernism, and now an integral way of relating (Lee, 2009).

The upper right quadrant corresponds to the behaviors, skills, and knowledge that form our daily lives. This quadrant evolved with our cells; bodies; brain; and cognitive functions leading to practices like leadership, systems thinking, design thinking, and emergence (Wilber, 2000). The evolutionary path in this quadrant has followed millions of years. Our social capabilities and sophistication in this quadrant have accelerated in the last hundred years. Technology has played a key role in this acceleration (Chaisson, 2010).

The final quadrant depicted in Figure 6 is associated with our social development, in particular, with our social systems (Edwards, 2005). Our foraging beginning as clans and tribes developed into horticulture and later agriculture as our collectives moved from tribes to more organized systems. These early systems gave way to technology and trade, making agriculture a vital part of our societies. Evolution continued into the industrial and later the information age with advances into every facet of our lives. Our social systems developed from simple tribal organizations to the sophisticated global entities we have today.

Integral theory posits that we cannot understand any of the realities depicted by any one quadrant through the lens of any of the others (Esbjorn-Hargens, 2010). All four quadrants are required to completely represent and understand any phenomenon. Unlike other approaches to meaning-making that may want to reduce phenomena to a purely subjective or objective reality, or a purely individual or collective experience, integral theory understands each quadrant as simultaneously arising (co-evolving). This is the connection that the integral framework has with depth and complexity development.

There are two approaches that integral theory provides to explore a phenomenon: quadratic and quadrivia (Esbjorn-Hargens, 2010; Wilber, 2011). The first—the quadratic approach—depicts an individual situated in the center of the quadrants. The arrows point from the individual toward the various realities that he or she can perceive as a result of his or her own embodied awareness. Figure 7 illustrates the quadratic approach to meaning-making.

Figure 7. The quadrant representation for a quadratic inquiry to a given phenomenon (Esbjorn‑Hargens, 2010).

The second approach to pursue the understanding of a phenomenon is known as quadrivia. This approach refers to four distinct ways of meaning making (Esbjorn-Hargens, 2010). In quadrivia, the different perspectives associated with each quadrant are directed at a particular reality, which is placed at the center of the quadrants. Figure 8 shows the quadrant representation in the quadrivia approach. For this essay, I am embracing the quadratic form of inquiry on conscious evolution.

Figure 8. The quadrant representation for a quadrivia inquiry to a given phenomenon (Esbjorn-Hargens, 2010). This figure shows conscious evolution as the subject of the inquiry and four different methods of inquiry, one for each quadrant.

Aside from the quadrants, the integral framework as defined by Wilber consists of four additional constructs: (a) levels of development, (b) lines of development, (c) states, and (d) types.

### Levels of Development

Within each quadrant there are levels of development that correspond to increasing depth and complexity (Wilber 2000). As stated previously, depth is associated with both individual and collective subjectivity, while complexity corresponds to the external reality, also at the individual and collective dimensions. Levels at each quadrant can be understood as waves of probability representing the dynamic nature of reality and how this reality is manifested under certain conditions (Wilber 2000, 2011). Graves defined levels (stages) as life conditions that have evolved as humans gained consciousness from the A-N stage (Beige) to the H-U stage (Turquoise).

The levels of each quadrant provide the map to the life conditions within it. These life conditions co-evolve (Esbjorn-Hargens, 2010). As an example, the cultural quadrant level of E-R (Orange) has led to entrepreneurship, which has produced advances in technology, a physical manifestation in both the upper-right and lower-right quadrants. As we interact with technology in those quadrants and apply it to social systems, our culture (intersubjective reality) is impacted and continues to evolve. Newer generations grow up in complete sociotechnical environments that co-evolve.

Levels in each quadrant demonstrate holarchy, which is a “kind of hierarchy wherein each new level transcends the limits of the previous levels” (Esbjorn-Hargens, 2010, p. 41). In this type of holarchy, each level inherits the waves of the past and adds new ones of organization and capacity. As a result, each level of depth or complexity is “both a part of a larger structure and a whole structure in and of itself” (Esbjorn-Hargens, 2010, p. 41). Levels are additive, and all of them are needed in each quadrant. For instance, the level D-Q (Blue) of structure is necessary for E-R (Orange) of entrepreneurship to operate properly.

### Lines of Development

Lines of development describe the distinct capacities needed to address the life conditions (levels) at each quadrant (Cacioppe & Edwards, 2005; Merry, 2009). They are sequentially developed to address increasing levels of depth and complexity. Capacities can unfold in parallel and can continue their development across levels. For instance, in technology-driven societies, we need capacities to interact with them. Regardless of the cultural level of a society (e.g., Blue, Orange, or Green), its technology requires certain capacity from its members from understanding traffic lights to operating a nuclear reactor. As a society evolves from one level to another (e.g., from Orange to Green), technology requires different capacities, such as the ability to develop and maintain intentional communities completely in cyberspace.

Graves stated that an individual or society moves from one level to the next once the existential problems (life conditions) of the current have been solved (Lee, 2009). Lines of development are the capacities needed to solve the problems of a given level. Each level presents a set of problems, which the capacities solve. For instance, we are currently working on solving the overconsumption of natural resources brought by the Orange level. We are doing this through the sustainability capacities (lines of development) available in individuals who have shifted to the Green level. We still need the capacities of Orange to develop better and innovative life capabilities, but we need to temper the tendencies of Orange by paying attention to what it consumes. Orange can be more effective and longer lasting with the infusion of the Green lines of development.

### States

States are temporary occurrences of aspects of reality (Wilber, 2011). They can last from a few seconds to months and even years. Weather is an example of a state that changes with the seasons and with atmospheric conditions. States are mutually exclusive and cannot occur concurrently (Wilber, 2011). An area cannot be windy and not be windy at the same time. Even though Wilber defined this construct as part of Integral, it does not have a direct impact to conscious evolution; however, it does relate to life conditions that may have a higher proclivity for evolution. Earlier in this essay, I pointed to the unique state of landmass, temperature stability, and carbon dioxide levels on planet Earth that present ideal conditions for our type of biology to procreate and evolve.

### Types

Types are contexts that develop in nature (Esbjorn-Hargens, 2010). Unlike states, they can be present concurrently. From an integral perspective, types help with the understanding of phenomena manifested in any of the quadrants. As an example, the typology of the Myers‑Briggs’ Type Indicator (MBTI) guides us in the understanding of externalized individual behaviors in the upper-right quadrant. They also help us to see how social systems operate based on the MBTI of the individuals in the system. There are almost an infinite number of types in nature from the physical (e.g., blood type) to the psychological (e.g., personality types).

### The Conscious Evolution Holon

This section explores my relationship with conscious evolution. As stated, I am using the quadratic approach of integral theory to frame and explore this understanding. The semantics I use in this section are founded in the literature of the conscious evolution meta-discipline introduced earlier in this essay. Figure 9 presents a holon I develop to focus the exploration into conscious evolution. It has the required four quadrants from integral theory, and I place my understanding at the middle of all quadrants consistent with the quadratic approach.

In this section, I will explore each quadrant starting with a definition and present levels and lines of development for each. In my understanding, these levels and lines correspond to the life conditions and capacities necessary to gain conscious evolution, the fourth generation human identified by Banathy (2000) that, in my estimation, corresponds to the Yellow stage defined by Graves. Wilber has written about the Yellow level of awareness but has not built a complete model for each quadrant. The rest of this essay introduces a complete model for each quadrant with levels and lines of development. There are no concrete and complete examples of holonic models in the integral theory I have surveyed. Consequently, there is no way to validate if the models I am presenting are accurate and faithful to integral theory. However, I believe that building these models has deepened my understanding of conscious evolution. Integral theory aims at a deeper understanding of reality through the interconnected lenses of the four quadrants (Esbjorn-Hargens, 2010). From this perspective, the models in this section have served their purpose.

Figure 9. The conscious evolution holon developed by the author. It is based on the principles of integral theory as addressed in Cacioppe and Edwards (2005); Edwards (2005); Esbjorn-Hargens (2010); and Wilber (1997, 2000, 2011).

This quadrant corresponds to the “I.” It is the subjective form of experience. This quadrant can only be accessed through the individual’s awareness. It is not visible or accessible to others. The subjective quadrant contains the memories and experiences of the individual. Personal values and morals are its foundation. The main activity in this quadrant is reflecting (Esbjorn-Hargens, 2009). In this subjective reality we learn through experiencing, collecting data, and then reflecting. The operating question for this quadrant is, “What is happening?” Edwards (2005) referred to it as the “illuminative strand” (p. 284).

From a conscious evolution perspective, the subjective quadrant reflects our individual relationship with evolution. It starts with an awareness of the evolutionary process and extends to the notion that we are an integral part of the evolution of the universe and actively participate as co-creators (Merry, 2009). I have to assume that there are even deeper levels of conscious evolution that are outside my own awareness and what is documented in the literature. Even though we understand the evolutionary process in different ways, the purpose of evolution is even more relative (McIntosh, 2012). To some, evolution is accidental, and its purpose is purely mechanical. For others, God controls evolution, and how and why it works remains a mystery. Yet others understand evolution as a grand design emanating from a great intelligence. The meaning of evolution in this manner of understanding comes from its coherence (McIntosh, 2012). A more mystical view of the purpose of evolution involves our own divinity and our journey to integrate with the source of creation. This is a metaphorical reverse “Big Bang” where we journey back to the source of creation, bringing with us the complete understanding of life and evolution.

My own understanding of evolution and its purpose is that all of the different perspectives are possible. At different times in my life, I embraced one philosophy or another. I have held the purely scientific view of evolution as I have embraced a deeply religious conception of why we exist. Through the practice of meditation and self-reflection, I am convinced that evolution also happens internally. Numerous mystics and evolutionary scientists have explored and documented the internality of the evolutionary process. McIntosh (2012) expressed that perhaps a richer set of internal universes are evolving within ourselves with every instant. I believe that I am constantly changing and adapting to new situations and realities. Over the course of my life, I have let go of single ways of knowing and seeking truths that needed to be absolute.

### Subjective levels of development

It can be controversial to suggest that we belong to different levels of subjective development. The implications of levels present the notion that a person may be better than another. Merry (2009) explained that developmental levels are more of an expression of directionality of evolution than a given direction. He stated, “Directionality is important because it gives us a sense of our context and the path we are walking” (Merry, 2009, Kindle location 675-678). Merry further suggested that no one can be forced to shift levels and that each of us has our own lessons and tasks in life. Graves’ core research and his eventual development of the ECLET framework were entirely focused on levels of development (Cowan & Todorovic, 2005). Aside from the empirical data he collected, Graves added anthropological details to round up how human consciousness (internality) developed over the last 50,000 years. This time demarcation is relevant because we have archeological evidence to point at an entry point in psychological and social development that our scientific community has followed and documented. Numerous social scientists have addressed levels of development with their own frameworks from Piaget to Lovinger, Kegan, and Graves.

Figure 10. Levels of individual internal development. Adapted from Beck and Cowan (1996).

Beck and Cowan (1996) documented Graves’ research attributing the evolution of self across eight known levels of development (Figure 10). According to these researchers, all humans start at the instinctual level at birth and move across multiple levels into maturity, experiencing the characteristics of each. Levels are part of a holarchy, meaning they are composites of the previous ones. For instance, the achiever self level encompasses the characteristics of the mythic, egocentric, magic, and instinctual selves. Graves found that adults settle on a given level and stay there for most of their lives (Beck & Cowan, 1996; Lee 2009). Levels cannot be skipped and are followed sequentially. Shifting from one level to another constitutes a major undertaking and requires a change in mindset and values (Cowan & Todorovic, 2005, 2008). For instance, a teenager in the egocentric self would require a series of life events and a fair amount of reflection to shift to the mythic self. Typically, with this shift, the teenager becomes a self-reliant young adult interested in a more organized lifestyle with responsibility for self and others.

Beck and Cowan (1996); Merry (2009); McKintosh (2007, 2012); Wilber (1997, 2000, 2011), and others associate the sensitive and integral selves as the state of consciousness needed to be aware of our evolutionary past and actively engaged in the stewardship of our planet. Wilber (2000) was critical of the sensitive self and believes it to be self-absorbed in relative righteousness. This level is post-modernistic and aims to accept diversity in all walks of life. It considers absolutistic thinking as limiting, and modernistic as exploitive. In contrast, the integral self is not concerned with the limitations of any of the levels but rather with the synergies that can be generated by all people at all levels of development. Wilber (2000, 2011) pointed out that true movement in our evolution towards a global community, and world peace and progress, would come when we achieve critical mass at the integral level of development.

My thinking and value system has been aligned with the notion that everything and everyone has a place in the universe. My main mentor in this mindset was my mother. She always had something positive to say about everyone, and I never heard her utter any negativity or even criticism about anyone. Even when challenged by life events and actions directed against her, my mother upheld the goodness in all people and their right to be who they are. She had no awareness of ECLET or any form of levels of evolution. She simply acted in the most considerate manner toward all forms of life. I admired this behavior, and even at an early age I saw it as different than my experience with others. I deeply appreciated my mother’s message of equality and her perspective that no one was in the wrong. I also saw how much empathy she had and how much pain she felt about the suffering of others. She never complained about her own life, just her feelings and hopes for the well-being of others.

I embraced, for the most part, what my mother taught me. I now see how much she operated in the integral way of being. I cannot say that she was concerned about how to make the world a better place but that she was concerned about making the world of those she knew a better one. This has become my primary purpose in life. I do not see any other purpose than to utilize who we are and what we have to make life better for everyone and everything, accepting and respecting all people regardless of their level of development. To me, levels of development are deep perspectives with directionality towards greater empathy and understanding.

### Subjective lines of development

There are many potential choices for lines of development. Wilber and other integral theorists provided some guidance on the developmental lines in the subjective quadrant (McIntosh 2007; Wilber 2011). The lines Wilber identified as part of his integral framework include kinesthetic, cognitive, moral, emotional, spiritual, and aesthetic. McIntosh (2007) expanded on Wilber’s work and provided a framework with three broad lines of development: volition, cognition, and emotion. These developmental lines progress concurrently and are impacted by their relationship with the intersubjective reality given that individual growth occurs in the context of interaction with others. (Merry, 2009; McIntosh, 2007, 2011).

Table 5 introduces specific lines of development associated with conscious evolution. This is by no means an exhaustive set; however, it captures subjective attributes amply represented in the conscious evolution literature. It also corresponds to my developmental experience as I became aware of our evolutionary reality and worked to integrate this realization.

Table 5L Subjective Lines of Development for Evolutionary Consciousness

 Line Definition Evolutionary purpose / agency Deep understanding of the evolutionary process and our role in it as part of our life’s purpose. Interpersonal / Interconnectedness/communion/ Knowing and feeling connected to all is brought into awareness and integrated into self Contemplation / spirituality Need for inner quietness, reflection and contemplation. Development of deeper states of mind. Connection to the global unconscious/the absolute. Beauty, truth and goodness The value triad that drives our development toward love, gratefulness, wisdom, compassion and empathy.

McIntosh (2007) emphasized volition as the relationship of self with the universe from the perspective of free will. This agency establishes a relationship both cognitively and emotionally with the evolutionary purpose. Hubbard (2003) identified the purpose of conscious evolution as learning “to be responsible for the ethical guidance of evolution” (p. 360). Laszlo and Laszlo (“Evolutionary Consciousness”) support this notion, stating, “The development of an evolutionary consciousness implies becoming aware of the processes of evolution of which we are a part in order to becoming co-creators of evolutionary pathways” (para. 3). This consciousness strives to guide humanity toward a better future. It also involves the recognition that we are at a critical phase in Earth’s development “in which our old ways of doing things are proving inadequate to the challenges we are facing, and we are searching for more adequate ways of organizing [sic] ourselves that will fit better into our larger context” (Merry, 2009, Kindle locations 823-825).

Csikszentmihalyi (1993) reminded us that our current human life is not the product of planned effort. He posited that planning and designing our future is our central activity for the next millennium. This activity starts with a vision and a concerted direction for evolution. What we should be aiming for, then, “is to facilitate the emergence of a new system by listening to the feedback from the world around us, and from our own inner voices, and by experimenting with ways to adapt” (Merry, 2009, Kindle locations 503-504).

From the interpersonal perspective, Daloz (2000) made the point that we learn through our relationship with the “other.” This is the same concept of Buber’s (1970) “I-You” relationship. Daloz (2000) added that together we are “part of a rhythmic dance of differentiating and integrating” (p. 110), which is central to transformation. This theorist posited that we develop a synergistic consciousness as we gain the capacity to hold different consciousness as equals. He posited that through our own critical reflection on a larger sense of self we can identify “with all people and ultimately with all of life” (p. 105). There cannot be transformation without the presence and influence from the other.

The interpersonal and transpersonal levels are viewed by Buber (1970) as the realms of encounter. This is different than experience. In Buber’s mind, encounter is performed by the person, not the ego. These are also the realms of love and unconditional relating. In Buber’s interpersonal level, we connect to people as if they were ourselves. Love, explained Buber, is when we cannot tell the difference between ourselves and the other person, and we cannot see any fault in the other person. This is also the level of transformation. The “I-You” relationship enables both parties to learn from one another and thus transform. The transpersonal level is where Buber believes we encounter God. This level cannot be reached unless the individual has first learned how to access the “I-You” level through repeated encounters with other persons.

Regardless of religious and cosmological beliefs, spirituality is at the center of our subjective development. It specifies how we relate to the universe in abstract (Merry, 2009). Spirituality defines who we are in the context of evolution and establishes our meaning. Meaning-making of the concrete is learned through our external experiences. Meaning-making with the abstract relies on our inner experience. This experience comes from contemplation and reflection. Spirituality connects us to an absolute reality that cannot be explained, only experienced (Merry 2009).

McIntosh (2007) emphasized that “beauty, truth, and goodness, taken together and understood as an integrated system of primary values, represent a kind of ‘great attractor’ of evolutionary development” (p. 81). He explained that these values form a triad that has been transcendental in our evolutionary psyche. McIntosh further asserted, “The aesthetic, the rational, and the moral, constitute essential, irreducible dimensions of human experience that continually come to the forefront whenever we think about the world from philosophical and spiritual perspectives” (p. 84).

In my mind, beauty is the development of the heart, of our finer emotions. Through beauty, we come to appreciate the universe, evolution, and all of life. Truth is cognition, knowledge, and ultimately wisdom. We learn about our evolutionary reality cognitively, but ultimately we connect with its purpose. Goodness is reflected in all of our actions. At the evolutionary levels, it calls for planetary responsibility. Together, beauty, truth, and goodness are manifested in our compassion, suffering, and empathy (Merry, 2009). Ultimately, we feel and understand how life unfolds and how we connect to everyone and everything. This connection would be impossible without this value triad.

The behaviors quadrant contains the objective reality we interact with on a daily basis. Unlike the subjective quadrant, behaviors are perceptible to our five senses, and we can process and make meaning of them. Wilber called it the “It” quadrant (Esbjorn-Hargens, 2009). From an integral theory perspective, the physicality of this quadrant ranges from atoms, to galaxies, suns, planets, life, species, humans, and human behavior. The premise of this quadrant is “acting” (Edwards, 2005). In this form of reality, we learn through physical action and involvement. We perform what is both expected and what we consider to be correct. Ethics are the foundation for our behavior. Edwards (2005) called this the “injunctive strand” (p. 284).

As it relates to conscious evolution, in the behavior quadrant, we practice what we consider to be our role in the evolutionary process. This can range from complete non‑engagement to full dedication to the co-creative process. The latter includes behaviors associated with Banathy’s (2000) fourth generation human. On the one hand, we can act with complete disregard to evolution and its interconnected nature with all of life. Our world’s environmental challenges are the direct result of behaviors disconnected from conscious evolution. As the awareness of the evolutionary process and our role as co-creators emerges and matures, our ethics and actions are in line with environmental conservation, social justice, and the practice of a holistic form or spirituality (Merry, 2009).

My behaviors associated with evolution changed and matured over time. Since early childhood, I remember embracing a deep sense of responsibility towards everything with which I interacted. This included toys, clothing, plants, insects, animals, and all humans. I could not conceive purposely hurting anything or anyone. I always had the sense that everything was alive, regardless of form. To me, even physical objects were relatable and deserved my care and attention. I could not understand why we humans could be so indolent to nature, animals, and each other. Multiple life experiences helped me understand behaviors that hurt others and also me. Making meaning of aggression in any form was difficult and painful. To this day, I react almost irrationally when I witness abuse of any kind.

I did not gain awareness of our planetary condition until I was in my 40s. Since this awareness entered my cognition, I have been an avid participant in social activities that promote environmental consciousness. I am also an activist within my workplace for providing the best working conditions for everyone, including eliminating abusive behavior wherever possible. I know that I can do more as my ethics embrace new life conditions where I can be impactful. I am joyful that through life events and opportunities for inspiring people, I have developed stronger evolutionary behaviors.

### Objectified levels of development

The integral theory literature does not offer levels of development for the behavioral quadrant. Wilber, Edwards, and other integral theorist referred to Wilber’s original documentation on this subject that provides physical levels of development from the atomic to the cognitive brain. It is curious that these theorists referred to this quadrant as the one holding the reality of behaviors. In investigating to develop a complete model for the evolutionary consciousness holon, I kept referring to Kegan’s evolutionary mind framework (Berger, Hasegawa, Hammerman, & Kegan, 2007; Eriksen, 2006; Kegan, 1982, 1994, 2000). Most of what Kegan documents in his framework deals with internal development, but what is attractive about Kegan’s work in this area is that his model has a dialectic correspondence between subject and object. At any level in our evolution, Kegan posited that we have an internal component that is evolving (subject) and one that has evolved (object). When we make the shift to the next level, the subject that we have mastered becomes object and a new subject emerges that needs to be learned (Berger et al., 2007). Figure 11 shows Kegan’s mind development framework.

Figure 11. Kegan’s levels of development adapted and correlated to the eight developmental levels in ECLET (Eriksen, 2006; Wilber, 2011).

In his constructive-developmental theories, Kegan (2000) identified five distinct levels or epistemologies that denote the stages of human internal development. In each level, the subject of the previous one becomes the object of the current. The first two levels deal with reflexes, impulsivity, and the realization of personal experiences. These epistemologies are primary and develop by the time the individual is 20 years old (Eriksen, 2006). The third level corresponds to the socialized mind. This is the level of traditionalism in which the object is concrete; comes from an established point of view; and follows enduring dispositions, needs, and preferences (Kegan, 2000). The fourth order epistemology belongs to the level of the self-authoring mind (Kegan, 2000). The object for this level contains abstractions, the principle of mutuality, interpersonal awareness, inner states, subjectivity, and self-consciousness. This is the level where self-reflection is primary. The fifth order is the level of the self-transforming mind. The object at this level includes abstract system ideology, institution, relationship-regulating forms, self‑authorship, self-regulation, and self-formation (Kegan, 2000). Wilber (2007) introduced an intermediate level between self-authoring and self-transforming that corresponds to the post‑modernistic consciousness that equates to the F-S (Green) level in ECLET.

Table 6: Kegan’s Five Levels of Development and the Correspondence of Object and Subject Relationships Note: Adapted from In Over Our Heads: The Mental Demands of Modern Life (Kegan, 1994).

From an evolutionary perspective, Table 6 shows that at the third order of development our behaviors are still concerned with our own needs, personal interests, and desires. Internally, we are developing interpersonal relationship capabilities and the idea of interconnectedness (mutuality). It is at the fourth level—the self-authoring mind—where these mind capacities become objectified and drive our behaviors. The underlying meaning-making structure of the fourth level is systemic, which would be necessary to see how evolution connects everyone and everything. Wilber (2000) postulated a level between the fourth and fifth to place the post‑modern mindset. He believes that Kegan’s fifth order mind corresponds to the integral human who is capable of behaviors aligned with a global mindset that aims to unify and accept full co-creative responsibilities. Table 6 shows the transition to the fifth order mind where self‑authorship, identity, and ideology are in the objective plane and drive behaviors.

A key distinguishing factor in Kegan’s framework for the fifth order level is the conceptualization of all states of thinking as in “both/and” rather than “either/or” of the previous levels (Kegan. 2000). This is a multiframe perspective that is able to hold contradictions between competing belief systems and is capable of accepting the incompleteness of wholeness, that is, the presence of multiple levels of existence as part of a perfect evolutionary process.

Even though my values were based on acceptance and empathy towards everyone, my behaviors were not aligned with my internal development. I remember feeling uncomfortable around certain people and situations. Life events and various mentors were instrumental in shifting my adaptive subjectivity to my external reality. Mutuality-based behaviors took awhile to fully manifest, way into my 30s. I wrestled with what was truly my own interests and desires over the needs and the well-being of others.

It was not until I turned 50 that I felt the beginning of “both/and” thinking being externalized into my behaviors. I experienced the “both/and” thinking for awhile but could not find the language or the form to express it. Over the last several years, I have been more comfortable with behaviors that express a more holistic ideology without any form of dogma. Leaving my dogmas behind was a real struggle. I felt I was becoming empty. I remember a period of at least a year where the consideration of being alive was a real struggle. Then, my thinking became simpler, unencumbered by rules and expectations. My behaviors became more focused and I felt more in control, without trying to be in control. The effort I used to apply to be in control of situations went away, leaving a state of acceptance of everything that occurs as just being perfect.

### Objectified lines of development

Integral theory, anchored in Wilber’s work, only offers physical lines of development for the objective quadrant, from the atom to the human brain. It is ironic that this quadrant is the “behavioral,” yet no behaviors along lines of development are provided by the literature. Although McIntosh (2007, 2012) did not provide nonphysical examples for levels and lines of development for the objective quadrant, he delivered an in-depth view on the evolution of the internality of humans, including culture and systems. He posited that science is well aligned and recognizes physical evolution from Lamarck and Darwin to now but that there is significant controversy delineating our nonphysical evolution.

From early age, I had the sense that there were differences in the internal development of individuals and that the person’s age, socioeconomic background, education, and IQ had little to do with how he or she interacted with life and, in particular, others. I was always puzzled by the actions of people in power, assuming that their position bestowed them great wisdom. It was not until I read Hawkins’ (1995) Power vs. ForceThe Determinants of Human Behaviour that I became more certain that we humans are at different levels of development. This understanding was further validated and enhanced once I discovered the works of Graves, Kegan, and Wilber.

In selecting the lines of development for the objective quadrant, I chose capacities that are tangibly expressed as behaviors and skills and that are singled out by the leaders in the evolutionary consciousness literature as being relevant to this topic. Table 7 shows the lines of development associated with conscious evolution. It is an amalgamation of my understanding from the conscious evolution meta-discipline and also the behaviors and skills I experienced as I became aware of our evolutionary journey and started to embody its associated responsibilities.

Table 6: Objectified Lines of Development for Conscious Evolution

 Line Definition Evolutionary learning and competence Full understanding of evolution, and our place/role in it. Development of evolutionary competencies. Systems thinking Competency of seeing systems and not just parts. Holistic (not reductionist) approach. Design thinking Design competency. Applying design principles to social benefit and development. Global ethics Living values harmonized with global wellbeing Collaborative praxis Practice collaboration in all aspects of interaction Dialogical inquiry Development and practice of “thinking together.”

In her work, Hubbard (2003, 2012) addressed a community that has evolutionary awareness and urges them to learn the history of the universe. Banathy’s (2000) Guided Evolution of Society: A Systems View is a legacy on human and systems evolution and an excellent source for evolutionary learning. Laszlo and Laszlo (“Evolutionary Competence”) have written extensively about evolutionary learning leading to competence. They stated, “Evolutionary competence is about developing the abilities and sensitivities to act upon the awareness and understandings of the two previous stages [consciousness and learning]. The development of evolutionary competence involves self-empowerment as evolutionary systems designers” (Laszlo & Laszlo, “Evolutionary Competence”, para. 2).

To develop competency in any area of endeavor requires practice. Banathy (2000) and Laszlo and Laszlo (“Evolutionary Praxis”) focus competency development on evolutionary systems design. “Conscious competence corresponds to the evolutionary competence stage in which the focus is on gaining mastery of the techniques, skills, competencies, attitudes, and abilities that empower evolutionary systems designers” (Laszlo & Laszlo, “Evolutionary Praxis”). Merry (2009) expressed that “evolutionary leaders are expert learners, continually looking for ways to accelerate their learning and the further development of their consciousness, compassion, and competence to absorb complexity” (Kindle locations 2394-2398).

The other line of development—system thinking—is the ability to see and understand a whole system, not just its parts. There is much written about this discipline, including the seminal work by Senge (1990), which brought systems thinking to global awareness. Daloz (2004), as an educator, believes that systems thinking should be required learning at all levels of education. His view stems from seeing how much we adversely affect our natural and human environments by addressing the needs of the parts and neglecting the entire system. Daloz (2004) posited that systems thinking provides the ability to think dialectically—to recognize that (a) knowledge is emergent and not static, (b) reality is constructed and not given, and (c) meaning-making is the result of an ongoing series of transformations. Daloz stated, “In our dialectic-paradoxical thought processes, we can embrace contradictory systems simultaneously and become conscious participants in our own evolution” (p. 38).

Laszlo and Laszlo wrote, “Evolutionary Systems Design is a heuristic that integrates the evolutionary learning journey—from evolutionary consciousness to conscious evolution—in a larger framework of collaborative work that includes generative and strategic processes” (“Evolutionary Competence”). Design thinking is viewed as the necessary ingredient for systems design (Banathy, 2000) and, in my view, an important line of development.

Although not a new concept, design thinking has been popularized by Tim Brown, CEO of design house IDEO. At the heart of the design thinking methodology from IDEO is thinking systematically and leveraging all stakeholders in the design. Brown (2008) stated that the stakeholders know what they need and should be included in the design process.Weisbord (1992), in Discovering Common Ground, presented the idea that the world is moving from experts designing our systems to regular people performing this activity. This is in line with Ackoff’s (1981) assertion that design is “the creation of a desirable future and the invention of ways to bring it about” (p. 62).

As my lines of development progressed, I struggled with my responsibility as a designer of social systems. I had no trouble accepting the role of designer of products and information architectures; however, I found guiding people into new states of interaction and operation unnerving. Along my career, I had the opportunity to work on a number of large business process reengineering projects. This gave me the opportunity to design new system containers and ways that people worked and delivered value. Over the last 12 years, I have finally accepted the responsibility of designing human systems in my capacities of management consultant, corporate executive, and philanthropist. Notwithstanding the pressures of doing careful and thoughtful work, and given the large impact to people lives, I can comment that the rewards of seeing better living and working conditions as a result of design changes is unparalleled.

Chaisson (as cited in Banathy, 2003b) addressed the ethics line of development in his own set of required evolutionary capacities: (a) process of change; (b) synthesis and consciousness; (c) humanism; (d) integration of science, philosophy and religion; and (e) ethical evolution. Banathy (2003b) stated that Chaisson equated our future with ethics. The astrophysicist believed that our planet would not have a future if we do not apply a planetary level of ethics to our evolution. Specifically, Chaisson named our next potential era “Ethical Evolution.” According to Chaisson (2010), ethics is at the turning point of human evolution. This evolutionary ethics requires as its scope the well-being of the entire planet. This broad-base application of ethics is necessary to sustain and resolve our current crisis.

I believe that our current planetary condition is a moral and ethical dilemma. Morals are subjective capacities and associated with truth, beauty, and goodness and exist at different levels of development (McIntosh, 2007). Ethics are reflected in our behaviors and manifested in our actions and social systems. The fact that most of the world lives in a state of poverty compared to the lifestyle we enjoy in the developed countries speaks to the level of our global ethics. Sociologists, economists, and scientists have stated repeatedly that no one on Earth should go hungry if we indeed wanted to make this a reality. There is enough food to feed the population of the planet; what we lack is the ability to grow and distribute food globally (“World Hunger and Poverty Facts and Statistics, 2013). At the heart of conscious evolution is the development of our ethics at a global scale to address the needs of all.

Evolution is a process performed in interaction with the universe (Merry, 2009). In the human sense, it requires connections and synergies. Nature has a leg up on humans where no one needs to tell the bee to move pollen from one flower to the next. How do we then participate in the conscious evolutionary process with others? Laszlo and Laszlo (“Evolutionary Praxis”) guided us to “connect with others and create synergies with like-minded people. Collaborate on projects and activities aligned with the vision of a sustainable and evolutionary future” (para. 3).

The last line of development identified in Table 5 is dialogical inquiry. According to Isaacs (1999), dialogue is a vehicle for creative problem identification and solving. It follows a different method than what is normally practiced in problem-solving, such as Lean and Six Sigma. The usual modalities engage people in discussion. We are used to exposing our points of view, enter into a dialectic exchange, and sometimes debate. In discussion, we are more often than not defending our ideas. Resolution or problem-solving emerges out of consensus or a decision from a decision-maker.

Dialogue follows a different approach and is appropriate for solving large planetary problems where contention and even compromise will not produce the required answers. Dialogue allows for the identification and solution to a problem by “thinking together.” This notion was first introduced by Bohm (2004) and extensively documented by Isaacs (1999). Thinking together is the result of the dialogic process. It starts with the suspension of our underlying assumptions followed by deep inquiry into the assumptions of all the participants.

As stated earlier in this essay, we are at a critical stage in our evolution, and the speed of change in the world has accelerated greatly (Merry, 2009). Schein (1993) submitted that dialogue can speed up the process of change within our organizations. The argument for this is twofold. First, resistance to change is driven by fragmentation—fragmentation of thought, culture, language, and understanding. Second, our customary communication approach of discussion often ends up in suboptimal solutions through compromise or mandate. Dialogue addresses fragmentation by giving all participants access to proprioception. Thought coherence is its result. Thinking together is a key capacity for interaction in conscious evolution and a support skill for evolutionary systems design.

The cultural quadrant represents our internal global reality. Each one of us is a member of a variety of cultures. Our membership and exposure to culture starts with our families and nationality. As we join schools and become aware of our communities, we assimilate their cultures. Later in life, we become representatives of various cultures and may have roles where we actually help develop cultural norms. The most obvious form of this latter activity is when we constitute our own family and raise children under a culture we consciously or unconsciously establish. The main components of culture are mindsets and values (Beck & Cowan, 1996). Edwards (2005) referred to this quadrant as the quadrant of interpretation. This is the reality where we are the most active in meaning-making. We do so by interpreting results from what we do and see. Merry (2009) stated that we need interaction with others under certain value systems to trigger our ability for meaning-making. Banathy (2000) stated that we gained our ability for socially-based meaning-making about 50,000 years ago as our consciousness shifted to be aware of our ourselves in relationship with others.

From an evolutionary perspective, this quadrant encapsulates our collective experience with evolution. Major shifts in this experience took us from the purely religious views of evolution to the more scientific. We navigated from the idea that God created the universe and our planet, starting from the notion that Earth was the center of the universe until Copernicus proposed otherwise. Lamarck and Darwin introduced the concepts of the evolution of the species in 1859. It was not until 1931 that we addressed the larger cosmic evolution with the theory of the Big Bang as postulated by Lemaitre. For the last 80 years, we have been refining how the universe came into existence, how life started, and how we current humans arrived to this point in history (Hubbard, 2012). Further, we now have a meta-discipline that is exploring our relationship with evolution and our roles and co-creators. This latter notion is not pervasive in the minds of the broader population, but we are starting to see deeper levels of planetary stewardship manifested throughout the world. This is an indication that we are expanding our collective meaning-making beyond our nearby cultures and embracing a more global reality.

Evolution was not a topic that concerned me until my mid-20s. I studied physical evolutionary theories as part of my academic education but was not particularly attracted to this topic. Through a series of life events, I became completely enthralled with the subject of internal evolution at about the age of 25. I spent the better part of 2 years reading as many books as I could on philosophy, religion, metaphysics, and psychology. As a next step, I joined many groups to gain experience in what I had read. This journey took me down many religious and metaphysical paths. My mindset and value system were in rapid development. I seriously considered the life of a philosopher and a writer. I prepared myself for that path through activities such as writing and publishing newsletters. This passionate perspective changed as several of my advisors pointed to a mainstream path in which I could bring value from an evolutionary perspective. This led me to a career in technology as a front but with the underlying mission of supporting the internal evolution of those around me, which has been a very fulfilling path.

### Intersubjective levels of development

Chown (2014) stated, “There was no change in the design of stone hand axes for 1.4 million years” (p. 8). He was referring to the period of time that our anthropological records show no real changes to our tools as an indicator of social progress. Chown presented the case that the advent of farming accelerated our cultural development, propelling us to the iPhones of today. Table 3 depicts this accelerated development starting with what Banathy (2000) referred to as the first generation human—the Cro-Magnon. Chown posited that farming allowed for greater densities of people to stay together and interact. He stated, “If there are three words that, more that any others, explain the history of the 13,000 years they are: interaction, interaction, interaction” (p. 8). Chown isolated the last 13,000 years as the period of time post the last ice age.

Graves’ research has been completely focused on human interactions and the development of culture (Lee, 2009). Table 4 delineates how Cowan and Todorovic (2008) summarized the eight levels of intersubjective development identified in ECLET by Graves from Archaic to Holonic. Figure 12 draws a correspondence between the levels of development and the ECLET nomenclature of A-N through H-U. From Graves’ perspective, human intersubjective reality develops as we deal with a given set of problems and life conditions (Cowan & Todorovic, 2005). As discussed earlier, each developmental level includes the previous ones. Graves’ research shows that the levels alternate between “express-self” and “sacrifice-self” cultures.

Figure 12. Levels of intersubjective reality. Adapted from Beck and Cowan (1996).

Beck and Cowan (1996) provided a chronology for the various cultural levels identified by Graves in his research. Starting with the Archaic culture 100,000 years ago, we developed from clans assembled for pure survival to tribes sharing a set of values and beliefs. The Animistic culture emerged 50,000 years ago and provided guidance and protection to its members and a core set of beliefs associated with the natural world its state of aliveness. The complete control of the tribe gave way to the Power Gods culture of independence about 10,000 years ago. This is one of the “express self” levels where rebellion and self-reliance were the norm. The Roman Empire is a great example of the Power Gods intersubjective reality.

The Mythic Order culture started 5,000 years ago and is very much present today. It is a “sacrifice-self” level and aims for order and tradition. Organized religions across the world have maintained the traditional values across many national cultures. The Renaissance was responsible for the establishment of the Scientific Rational culture. The Industrial Revolution further developed what we refer to as modernism. Advances in our industries and our societies are the direct result of our modern culture. Post-modernism started about 150 year ago and gained strength in the last 50 years since the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s. This is another “sacrifice-self” level focused on a pluralistic worldview. Changes in social justice and environmental awareness came from the Pluralistic cultural shift. The adoption of large environmental programs by the likes of Exxon and Coca Cola denote the impact of this level in the transcendence of the previous one.

The Integral and Holonic cultural levels are developing, and there are no clear indications of their impact to our broader culture. Graves was able to determine the existence of individuals with subjective realities associated with these levels. Beck and Cowan (1996) estimated the percentage of individuals operating at the Integral and Holonic levels to be about 1% of the total population. As Chown (2014) indicated, it is interactions that determine the evolution of culture. It will take some time for the individuals operating past the post-modernistic culture to interact and develop new cultural norms. The evolutionary meta-discipline may be a cultural landmark heralding the establishment of the integral culture.

From an evolutionary perspective, the Scientific Rational culture is responsible for the physical evolutionary theories, including cosmic evolution with the Big Bang. It is the post‑modern culture and to some degree the Integral that have expanded our awareness of evolution to include a co-creative concept that places us as responsible participants in the evolution of the universe.

The majority of my life has been immersed in the Traditional and Modern cultures. I see my own family as a combination of the two. My early academic studies and professional work were deep into the science of the modernistic worldview. This was further complemented by a successful career in engineering and information technology. My work circle was absorbed in capitalistic thinking, with little to no awareness of the needs of the planet, social justice, or how we can have an impact in the world. My friends in the previously mentioned philosophical and metaphysical activities provided a respite from the materialistic reality of my work life. It was through these friends and their support that my own subjective reality changed towards internal evolutionary concepts.

My wife was completely instrumental in helping me become aware of a post modernistic reality. Her strong pluralistic mindset had a profound effect on my thinking. We formed a post‑modern household and raised our children with social and planetary awareness and a strong sense of responsibility that they have to make the world a better place for everyone. Both of our children’s higher education and current work are associated with social domains, and they view their contribution as a service to humanity. My experience at Saybrook University brought me in contact with a larger post-modernistic culture, which has further expanded my own cultural values. I can now see how I can continue to evolve and be an active participant in evolution. I have not yet encountered centers of Integral culture. I know individuals whom I surmise operate with integral values but who are not acting together to develop new cultural norms. Perhaps this encounter still lies ahead on my path.

### Intersubjective lines of development

Teilhard de Chardin introduced the term noosphere to differentiate it from the biosphere that had been evolving for billions of years. The noosphere is a layer of psychological evolution that accelerated 50,000 years ago (McIntosh, 2007; Merry, 2009). That critical threshold of the noosphere “resulted in the emergence of a qualitative distinction or change of state between conscious life and self-conscious humanity” (McIntosh, 2007, Kindle locations 2792-2796). Teilhard, along with a number of social scientists, chronicled that we have been evolving psychologically and socially as a species.

In attempting to define the lines of development for the intersubjective quadrant, I considered the conscious evolution literature along with my views on the “lines” we should be developing to achieve a broader base of awareness than what we have now. It has been only 60 to 70 years since we entered the role of co-creators, as our atomic power, medicine, and other technologies gave us the ability to dramatically alter life in our planet (Chaisson, 2005b). The lines depicted in Table 8 constitute the capacities I surmise we need to make life conditions better for all and sustain them along an evolutionary continuum.

Table 7: Intersubjective Lines of Development for Conscious Evolution

 Line Definition Planetary stewardship Caretaker culture of the planet, its resources and inhabitants Social justice & equality All beings are equal and have the same rights in all aspects of life Social democracy Equality in participation in civil society and its political and social processes Global governance Belief in governance across nation states towards a unified Earth Diversity acceptance and integration Full acceptance of gender, ethnicities, religions, lifestyles, and cultural backgrounds into a unified human rainbow.

Note: These lines are a collection of cultural values and beliefs that would drive our behaviors and social systems toward conscious evolution. All of them are in some form of manifestation today.

In Figure 1, we saw that only 36% of the people surveyed had a positive response to the question, “Do you think that global warming will pose a serious threat to you or your way of life in your lifetime?” This does not mean that 36% of the people in United States are planetary stewards. It does, however, mean that a third of the population of this country can respond to guidance in the direction of planetary stewardship.

Through my involvement at Saybrook University and my role of environmental sustainability leader in my workplace, I have taken an active stewardship role. In this capacity, I work with a number of people who are committed to lowering environmental impact. Additionally, through this experience, I can see the influence my company is having with external manufacturers and their own environmental impact. My contributions toward planetary stewardship are miniscule compared to leaders and organizations that dedicate their entire focus to this endeavor. I am appreciative of what they do and grateful for being able to contribute even in a small way.

As mentioned in the previous section, we have a significant gap in our morals and ethics. Our collective sense of truth, beauty, and goodness is wide ranging. Graves, Wilber, and others working with ECLET estimate that less than 15% of the population operate at the Green (post‑modernistic) level or higher (Cowan & Todorovic, 2005; Wilber, 2000). This means that our absolute sense of social justice and equality would be off for the majority of inhabitants. It takes the Green level of development to fully feel the outrage of injustice without any discrimination. All levels are capable of understanding injustice, but they are able to compartmentalize areas with acceptable levels of injustice and inequality. For instance, individuals operating at the Blue level would find it completely unacceptable to discriminate within their own race but find it acceptable to do so with other races.

Growing up in South America and in a relatively upper-middle-class family, I could not understand why we treated the people that helped us with our food and housekeeping differently. I could not see them differently than myself. As I grew up and saw people blatantly discriminating, I fought back and challenged their actions. Later, I realized I could not change people’s perspectives on justice and equality, only that I could make choices for my own interaction with others. I choose to treat everyone as equals and with the same level of consideration. In the workplace, I have made it a point to foster a just, nurturing, and life‑affirming environment.

Like religion, forms of governance engender difference of opinions, even from individuals who are at the same level of development. From a line-of-development perspective, I submit that a form of social democracy could be a more evolved form of democracy than what we practice in the United States. For one, politicians should not be influenced by special interest groups and/or private industry. The influence of the Orange level in United States politics limits the development of our governance by not allowing it to evolve and fully support diversity and greater equality (McIntosh, 2007). Orange is a powerful force, which normalizes all activities to a capitalistic common denominator.

Social democracy has as an objective the growth of the middle class by raising the earning power of the majority (Berman, 2014). Proportional taxation, global health coverage, free education, and retirement are social programs that all citizens should have access to by virtue of their civil society membership and their contributions to the welfare of all. Daloz (2004) stated that natural prosperity relates to a healthy and thriving commons. This is the state reachable through the imagination and transformative collaboration between businesses, non‑governmental organizations, and government. This state is about moving from “defending private interests to promoting the public good” (Brown, 2005, p. 194). There is a wealth of material describing how we can achieve natural prosperity.

From a global governance perspective, McIntosh (2007) made the point that post‑modernism, although an advanced form of political consciousness, has its limitations. This is an observation that Graves made as he was defining the Green level in ECLET (Cowan & Todorovic, 2005) and was corroborated by Wilber (2000). It suffers from relative impotence, the inability to take decisive action, particularly when total equality may not be possible. Pure post‑modernism alone is not capable of forming a large enough system to take charge of the world stage (Wilber, 2000).

The integral Yellow level is viewed as the next stage of evolution to usher in a practical and implementable world-centric political system (Wilber, 2000; Merry 2009; McIntosh 2007; Cowan & Todorovic, 2005, 2008). Individuals with this level of consciousness are capable of working on large-scale systemic solutions based on their ability to not only see systems but connect with them emotionally. Post-modernists (Green level) cannot get past the offenses, particularly of the economic modernism of Orange (Cowan & Todorovic, 2005). The integral Yellow is able to work with people of all views and value systems. Although relativism is present in Yellow as it is in Green, its practicality and passion for execution make this level see past the mistakes of our previous states of consciousness.

The ultimate political goal of Yellow is global governance (McIntosh, 2007). A global federation would be based on post-modern consciousness with a world-centric view and sets of values. This federation would arrive through the evolutionary pressures of globalization, over‑population, and increasing complexity. The global governance envisioned by the integral Yellow worldview would consist of a federation of nations united under a constitution of laws guided by the insights and principles of an integral set of values. This world federation would be instituted to provide democratic oversight of the global economy, protect the world’s environment; establish a universal bill of human rights; preserve cultural diversity; and bring an eventual end to war, disease, and poverty. Nation states would maintain their own system of laws but would abide to the jurisdiction of the world federation for matters dealing with global justice and peace.

At the foundation of the intersubjective lines of development is the acceptance of diversity and the integration of this diversity into our array of world activity. I see greater acceptance in the workplaces than in general society, granted that I live and work in the San Francisco Bay Area, known for its diversity and tolerance. I surmise that what I experience in my workplace should be the least we aim to achieve in civil society. In my workplace, we aim for diversity, gender equality, flat organizations, self-organizing teams, risk-taking, sense of family, respect, and support for personal life. I see how we treat each other as dignified human beings regardless of who we are. This is the intersubjective reality I wish for all, and I know we are capable of even more.

Edwards (2005) referred to the social quadrant as the “validation strand” (p. 284). Its reality encompasses all of the social systems that we have created from the early tribes to sophisticated global organizations, such as the United Nations. It also includes the processes and tools we utilize in every form of endeavor. Wilber’s pronoun for this quadrant is Its to signify the plural version of the it of the behavior quadrant. Social learning is at the foundation of this form of reality, and we do so by testing implications and discussing the findings (Edwards, 2005). The majority of our daily lives are concerned with this quadrant. Given its collectiveness and objectivity, it is the easiest to relate and gain agreement. Unlike the other quadrants, this one has tangible objects that enable us to engage with common purposes. In the United States, even though we have wide-ranging political views (intersubjective reality), we agree that we need to elect a president every 4 years (interobjective reality).

Looking at the social quadrant from the evolutionary perspective, we can tangibly see how we have evolved from primitive social and physical structures to global societies interconnected with sophisticated technologies. The acceleration of the realities in this quadrant is astonishing. Just 20 years ago, connecting with someone outside our immediate physical space was challenging. Primitive forms of email and long distance telephone communication were available; however, these were expensive and non-ubiquitous. Today, most people living in developed and developing countries have access to powerful computers either through their phones or other internet-connected devices. The social media capabilities of these computers make it possible to stay connected with many people outside our immediate physical reality. This connection has resulted in tighter social networks that make it easy to challenge, solidify, and even create social structures. Evolution has moved beyond physical boundaries.

Given my involvement in a number of organizations and my national background (I was born in Bolivia), I have had the opportunity of experiencing a multitude of social systems. My roles in these social systems have been diverse, from simple membership to primary leader. Since middle school, I was inclined to participate in leadership roles, volunteering on class councils and leadership teams. My desire to be at the forefront of social systems gained larger focus in my professional life. I volunteered to lead efforts of different kinds. It seemed that it was less important to focus on the context and more on needed transformation. In my late 30s, I became involved with nonprofit organizations of various kinds and participated in escalating roles leading to president and director roles. I appreciated the opportunity to lend my service to a variety of causes, mostly focused on helping social development of marginalized groups in underdeveloped countries. My academic work a Saybrook University provided me with additional perspectives regarding how we evolve in our organizations and introduced me to frameworks to help the organization I belong to evolve. My ever-present connection with technology has also been very helpful to me in enabling and empowering people, and to form and maintain stronger relationships.

### Interobjective levels of development

Our organizational systems have evolved primarily in the last 50,000 years from survival clans to value communities and integral commons (Hubbard, 2003). These systems have been supported by technologies that frame our interactions (Figure 13). Each evolving level is founded in our ability to sustain our interactions. For instance, during our foraging beginnings, life conditions could only support survival clans that banded to hunt for food. Our social technologies did not allow for grouping more than 50 or so individuals at a time. Consequently, whatever these clans were able to learn was not broadly shared with other clans because of their lack of interaction. The horticulture technology enabled us to form larger tribes, and, through multigenerational interaction, we were able to pass along a series of enduring capabilities.

Figure 13. Organizational systems levels of development along with their foundational social technologies. Adapted from Wilber (2000, 2007).

Feudal empires and nation-states developed with the advent of agriculture. The ability to grow food and domesticate animals changed how we lived and allowed for larger cities and ultimately nation states to flourish (Banathy, 2000). The industrial revolution helped solidify nation-states and gave birth to corporations, starting with the British East India Company to continuing to the global corporations of today that are financially larger that many nations (Venkat, 2011). Information technology has given us the opportunity to support and also build communities beyond the physical. Interest groups and communities of practice are sustained through the means of Internet-based communication. As an example, the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011 was promoted via the Internet, organizing and communicating across the United States, bringing together almost 1,700 people and later thousands more across 951 cities in 82 countries.

At the upper level of organizational systems, we find intentional communities and evolutionary learning communities that bring together people with similar mindsets focused on the well‑being of society and the internal development of their members. The Findhorn Foundation in Scotland is an example of a spiritual community whose stated vision is to be a “centre for holistic learning, helping to unfold a new human consciousness and create a positive and sustainable future” (Findhorn Foundation, 2014). The Foundation was founded in 1962 by Peter and Eileen Caddy, and Dorothy Maclean. Barbara Marx Hubbard, a futurist, operates an internet-based global communication hub entirely dedicated to the subject of conscious evolution. Hubbard is one of the most recognized leaders who has emerged in the evolutionary meta-discipline.

My involvement with organizational systems has been, for the most part, with nation‑states and corporations. Both of these organization types do not offer deep perspectives in the evolutionary process. It has been surprising to me how little awareness in evolution and our role in it appears to be present in the highly educated set of individuals I interact with in my professional life. It is even more surprising to find limited interest in conscious evolution in my interactions with people in organizations dedicated to post-modern thinking. I have encountered a few exceptions. Last year, I attended a seminar on integral theory that featured several lectures associated with conscious evolution, including one presented by Peter Merry. I surmise that the intersection of post-modern communities, along with the developing integral thinking, will result in numerous integral commons that promote conscious evolution and practical ways in which we can be true co-creators.

Interobjective lines of development. Reality in the interobjective quadrant includes all of the systems we have created across our history (Wilber, 2000). Organizations are fundamental components of this reality. Our families, neighborhoods, communities, workplaces, communities of practice, cities, and nations are all organizational structures that impact our daily living and are very closely aligned with our evolution. From early clan and tribe life to global enterprises, we have been molding our organizations to go along with our sociocultural shifts, our technologies, and our population needs (McIntosh, 2007).

Several possible paths can be considered for lines of development for the interobjective quadrant. Technology is one of these paths, which offers multiple capacities that have evolved over time. For instance, we can map our ability to cure human disease from early herbal remedies to sophisticated nano-technologies for advanced diagnostics and 3D printing of cellular structures for DNA-conforming implants. However, organizational structures provide lines of development that can be associated with conscious evolution. As leaders awake to a deeper evolutionary consciousness, they guide our organizations into greater alignment with the good for civil society and planetary stewardship (Merry, 2009).

Table 9 identifies lines of development associated with evolutionary interobjectivity operating at the cusp of conscious evolution. For this table, I selected organizational constructs where I have a degree of firsthand knowledge and academic understanding from the literature.

Table 9: Interobjective Lines of Development for Conscious Evolution

 Line Definition Natural Step and other frameworks for guiding environmental and social stewardship in organizations This is a framework for strategic sustainable development that creates a unifying view of the activities necessary to achieve sustainability in an organization. “It converts theory to practice using logical, practical criteria for consistent decision making” (The Natural Step). Self-organizing teams (Scrum) Work teams that are self-autonomous, capable of self-transcendence and cross-pollination.   Scrum is a methodology employing self-organizing teams for software development. Communities of Practice Self-organizing and self-governing organizations whom share a common interest in a domain and whose association yields knowledge sharing and practice development. Social enterprises Non-profit, self-sustainable enterprises using commercial know-how to deliver social value, typically to marginalized individuals. Evolutionary learning communities Environments to interactively learn about interconnectedness, ecology, and the joy about contributing to our communities.

Note: The “lines” in this table come from a variety of sources (Laszlo, “What is Evolutionary Learning Community?”; McIntosh, 2007; Merry, 2009; Nattrass, 1999; Rubin, 2013; Takeuchi & Nonaka, 1986) and my personal experience with them.

The Natural Step (TNS) is a framework for environmental sustainability created by Swedish oncologist Dr. Karl-Henrik Robèrt (Burns, 2000). Robèrt, inspired by the collaboration of cells in dealing with cancer, developed an analog of the collaboration of governments, industry, and environmentalists to solve what in his mind was the single most important problem faced by humanity—planetary sustainability. In 1987, Dr. Robèrt drafted a framework outlining the conditions by which humanity could reach sustainable existence. His initial draft was sent to a broad cross-section of scientists and medical doctors, soliciting their input. After many revisions, TNS framework emerged, defining the types of actions organizations should take for this global pursuit (Burns, 2000).

TNS has been adopted by a number of organizations since its inception. The most famous implementation of this framework was by IKEA. Several case studies are documented in Waage’s (2003) book titled Ants, Galileo, & Gandhi: Designing the Future of Business Through Nature, Genius, and Compassion. I became aware of TNS during an independent study course at Saybrook University. I worked closely with Dr. Jaffe on updating the course materials for the sustainability introductory class in the Organizational Systems program. I leveraged my learning of TNS to write an article for The Triple Bottom Line blog and to start the environmental sustainability program at my workplace. Aside from this program reaching strategic importance for the company, we were able to achieve Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design Platinum certification for one of our buildings. Later, I continued my study of TNS through my dissertation critique essay, which dealt exclusively with four case studies of this framework by Nattrass (1999).

The relevance of TNS as a line of development is that it goes beyond simple recycling and antipollution programs, and even triple-bottom line practices. TNS brings a decision-making ability at the top level of an organization that integrates the organization’s operation with natural systems. Ray Anderson, while CEO of Interface, Inc., changed the way his company produced industrial carpeting to a modularized format completely owned by Interface with 100% recyclable materials (Waage, 2003). Anderson not only changed his industry; he inspired other executives to embrace TNS and change the relationship of their companies’ processes with nature. Although this line of development is labeled as TNS, organizations do not have to adopt this exact framework to be better aligned with conscious evolution but could embrace a similar one.

Takeuchi and Nonaka (1986) introduced the concept of self-organizing project teams in their article titled “The New New Product Development Game.” Self-organizing teams along with built-in stability, overlapping development phases, multi-learning, subtle control, and organizational transfer of knowledge were identified by the authors as a different product development paradigm, as contrasted with traditional sequential approaches. Takeuchi and Nonaka documented case studies of a new form approaching projects with successes at Fuji‑Xerox, Canon, and Honda. In their study, self-organizing teams are driven to a state of “zero information” (p. 139) where prior knowledge does not apply and members aim to create their own dynamic order. In this sense, they operate as a start-up, taking on new initiatives and risks, and develop an independent agenda. A team possesses self-organizing capabilities when “it exhibits three conditions: autonomy, self-transcendence, and cross fertilization” (Takeuchi & Nonaka, 1986, p. 140).

The work by Takeuchi and Nonaka (1986) is credited for the inception of the Agile project management methodologies, and in particular with Scrum (Rubin, 2013). Scrum is a popular approach to software development that relies on self-organizing teams and was advanced by Schwaber and Sutherland (Rubin, 2013). There is much covered in the literature about Scrum. What is most relevant about these self-organizing teams in terms of conscious evolution is what Takeuchi and Nonaka identified their self-transcendence. In the context of Scrum, this capacity is translated into the ability of a team to go beyond its stated goals and have it emerge with higher goals through its own discovery. There are many examples cited in the literature where self-transcendence is a result of self-organizing teams and a key driver for organizations choosing to adopt them as a cornerstone for their product development practices.

I became aware of Scrum about 3 years ago, when my company embraced it as its software development methodology. In my current role, I am responsible for the well-being and the value delivered by 14 scrum teams building software products. Given both my work and my academic interests in self-organizing teams, I have been working very closely with the practice of Scrum at my workplace and have undertaken a few academic research projects on this methodology and its impact on team efficiency. One of the early products of this research include an integral model of Scrum teams, which addresses levels and lines of development similar to what I have covered in this essay. I conceive that Scrum is an advanced form of teamwork, which I believe has applicability outside of software development. I would go so far as to say that it is the future of how work will be done across the spectrum of disciplines, where teams self-organize to deliver value to the social systems they serve.

Another one of the identified lines of development in Table 9 is communities of practice (CoPs). These are “are self-organising and self-governing groups of people who share a passion for the common domain of what they do and who strive to become better practitioners” (Merry, 2009, Kindle locations 2057-2060). This type of organizations are proliferating in the workplace and rapidly becoming needed institutions to advance broad or specialized agendas.

Broad scopes for CoPs are found in large organizations where common practices are desired across departments and locations. The traditional way of organizing by functions and business units isolate practitioners, limiting their ability to share knowledge and participate in global problem-solving. CoPs address these problems by breaking functional and location barriers and allowing practitioners to share and work together in advancing their common capabilities, even though their business unit missions may be different. Narrow specialties can also benefit from CoPs, where practitioners can come together and further the capacities of their field regardless of their organizational placement.

CoPs are not limited to the workplace and exist in the public domain. The most common application is in the form of “communities of interest.” Communities of various types exist where information, knowledge, and practices can be shared. Social media makes it possible for practitioners and people interested in a particular domain to come together and share. LinkedIn is a good example of a social media container where thousands of communities of interest exist, each providing access for exchanging information about a particular subject. Merry (2009) stated,

Developing a Community of Practice once a container has been built for the people sensing the new need, that container must be developed into a space where these people can do the work they feel they need to do in order to contribute to the shift, and can safely exchange experiences and get support from each other. (Kindle locations 2057-2060)

In my workplace, I am involved with the definition of the CoPs we need and those that our teams would also like to have. I see them as necessary, given that my organization is organized by missions with multiple disciplines in each. These disciplines have the need to come together to share knowledge and develop common practices. A challenge I see with CoPs is that they require focus, leadership, and effort by their members. It is easy to organize them but far more challenging for them to produce value. In addition, I am an active member of a number of online communities of interest, where I benefit from the shared information and have the opportunity to also contribute. I view CoPs as evolutionary containers because they break the barriers of location and organizational structures, and give members the opportunity to co‑evolve.

Social enterprises constitute another line of development for organizations. They are the amalgamation of commercial practices from for-profit institutions and the social value inherent in nonprofit organizations (Alter, 2007). Traditionally, for-profit organizations have not focused on social benefit, given their primary mission of making money for their shareholders. These organizations need to achieve financial sustainability in order to exist. In contrast, non-profit organizations are focused on delivering social value but have traditionally existed through endowments and donations.

Social enterprises are not a new phenomenon. They have been evolving and becoming more pervasive in delivering social value worldwide. Joint ventures between business and nonprofit organizations have also taken place to bring the commercial knowhow to the social sector. A good example of this is the partnership of Danone from France, producers of dairy products, and Grameen Bank, pioneers in micro-lending. This partnership—known as Grameen Danone Foods, Ltd.—produces a fortified low-cost yoghurt sold in Bangladesh to deliver nutritional value to people with low financial means in that country.

Health systems in the United States are hybrids, where part of their funding comes from payers such as insurance companies and part from large endowments. About 9% of hospital systems in this country are nonprofit social enterprises. Through my work, I am involved with the patient outcomes and cost efficiencies of healthcare organizations. Through products and services, my company enables health systems to administer medications safely and cost efficiently. My company provides capabilities for medication adherence, which in this country alone is a 290 billion problem (New England Healthcare Institute, 2009) and, more importantly, the cause of 125,000 deaths (Fleming, 2008). My role involves bringing to market innovative solutions to support health systems with these important needs. Even though I am part of a for‑profit enterprise, my daily interaction is with social enterprises where I am focused on improving their sustainability and delivery of better patient care. I believe that social enterprises will continue to proliferate and mark an important part of our evolution toward a socially responsible world. Laszlo (“What Is Evolutionary Learning Community?”) stated, “Evolutionary Learning Communities (ELCs) are flexible environments where people can learn about the interconnected nature of our world, the ecological impact of our individual and collective choices, and the joy of finding a meaningful way to contribute to our communities” (para. 1). ELCs are foremost communities, not formal educational structures. They include our families, neighborhoods, and other types of communal arrangements. They are meant to be interactive and natural. Additionally, ELCs are containers for active learning. This learning is through engagement in the community. Laszlo (“What Is Evolutionary Learning Community?”) stated that ELC learning “is not simply accumulative individual learning, but synergistic collaborative learning: learning content issues together while at the same time learning process issues about how to be community.” ELCs are evolutionary containers in which members consciously co-evolve with their environments (Laszlo & Laszlo, 1995). This is different than other organizations in which their structures and values are set as independent of the members and their aspirations. ELCs in this sense are geared for conscious evolution and are aligned with an evolutionary process. I have limited exposure to true ELCs. I am part of the Pachamama Alliance, an organization devoted to the experiential education on sustainability. My involvement with Pachamama Alliance has help me become more aware of my role as planetary steward. Pachamama’s approach to education is for all members to bring their sustainability knowledge to their own communities and engage in learning experiences that are most conducive in their environments. I brought the Pachamama knowledge to my community at Saybrook and to my workplace. In each instance, the approach was different and was adapted to the needs of these communities. In addition to Pachamama, Saybrook University and the department of Organizational Systems is an ELC that has supported my own evolution. I am not the same person now as I was before enrolling at Saybrook. Although learning at Saybrook is not entirely within the community, I have always felt a strong connection to this community as I practiced what I learned and learned more while I practiced. Over the last several years, since my involvement with Saybrook, I have treated my teams at work as ELCs. Although I work in earnest to meet the business goals of my role, my primary motivation for leading organizations and teams is to provide containers to learn and evolve. I believe that workplaces are evolutionary containers and that we can be intentional about this purpose. I continuously challenge myself to enable learning, consciousness development, and joy for all of the people who I can influence and the environments that I create. My aspiration is that workplaces become conscious ELCs and that people recognize them for what they are and actually make choices about joining the right ELC for their development. ### Conclusion Seven million years have transpired since the human form appeared on Earth. Our evolution for most of this timeframe was physical. In it, our physiology and neurology became increasingly more complex to the point that we could accumulate knowledge, pass it on, copy it, improve it, select what was appropriate for the situation, and ultimately communicate with one another through sophisticated symbolic coding—language. It has been only in the last 50,000 years that we developed socially. Aided by a capable neurology and assisted by our technologies, we have evolved from our archaic and tribal institutions to our nation-states and urban communities. As explored in this essay, an emerging part of our population is coming to terms with our role as co-creators. Our technologies, our way of living, and our intentionality have transported us to Chaisson’s Life Era. In this era, not only do we control matter but life itself. This new reality presents the need for a deep understanding of our evolutionary history and a new architecture for our evolution. As Banathy, Chaisson, Hubbard, Laszlo, and others have stated, it is no longer possible to continue to blindly evolve as our consumption outpaces the capabilities of our eco-systems. No one knows how much time we have left to design our evolutionary systems or if we have reached the maximum level of complexity that is possible in our human and societal forms. We simply know that we have an awareness of our possible extinction and of the invaluable opportunity ahead of us to transcend our current thinking, evolving it to a sustainable planetary consciousness. Banathy (2000) left a blueprint for guided social evolution, not only through his book titledGuided Evolution of Society: A Systems View but also through his life, his influence, and the connections he established with his own evolutionary inquiry. As Laszlo and Laszlo (2002) emphasized, we have the opportunity to develop a culture of design and evolutionary awareness. This essay aimed at providing an integral perspective into our evolutionary journey and how conscious evolution has developed through the co-evolution of the four quadrants of reality and their associated levels and lines of development. Frameworks from Graves, Kegan, and Wilber were useful to conceptualize an integral model for the levels of development. As stated in the body of this essay, the lines of development are numerous, and I made an attempt to select the ones that would be most appropriate for conscious evolution based on the literature and my own experience. Providing a correlation between the literature and my personal life was challenging with regards to maintaining academic relevance. As noted by the authors in the conscious evolution meta-discipline, this subject is about consciousness, learning, and praxis (Banathy 2000; Hubbard 2003, 2012, Laszlo & Laszlo, “Evolutionary Praxis”). Community-building and evolutionary system design have been noted as fundamental aspects of this praxis across multiple domains (Banathy, 2000, 2003a, 2003b; Laszlo & Laszlo, “Evolutionary Praxis”). The available literature gives us inspiring examples of evolutionary praxis in communities formed by individuals with similar thinking and common goals. Most of our urban population spends considerable time in organizations. I believe that it is in our organizations where we have the greatest opportunity to design our sustainable future, first, by designing socially responsible and sustainable organizations and, second, by humanizing their systems to accommodate for the transformation of its members into higher levels of consciousness. Furthermore, I believe that our sustainable future lies through the portal of socially conscious and materially sustainable organizations working globally for the well-being and prosperity of all beings. ### References • Ackoff, R. L. (1981). 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# Correlations Between Crisis Management and Innovation

Learner Papers

Abstract

Corporate leaders focus primarily on growing their businesses. They should also focus on mitigating potential setbacks (crises). Innovation (in its many forms) is a guided exploration of purposeful uncertainty. A company knows they want to grow but are generally unsure how. Customer-centric approaches such as participatory innovation are a recent focus for leaders looking to negotiate this tension. In contrast, crises are problems. They are part of an intricate system of related problems, and all crises are human-caused (Mitroff & Alpaslan, 2011). When leaders are unprepared, crises quickly spin out of control. This essay explores contextual factors and various perspectives related to the management of the tension between innovation and stability. It seeks to provide support for further doctoral research into the topic area.

We have a “violent Fondness for change,and greater Eagerness after Novelties”, –Mandeville, 1732, p. 196

### Introduction

The idea of managing the interrelationship between flexibility and control in the workplace is not new. Virtually all organizations feel pressure to grow and yet the turnover of companies has gone from 1.5 percent a year in the 1930s and 40s to 4 percent in the 1970s. By 1998, the annual attrition rate had risen to 10 percent (Forster, 2010). The fast attrition rate (through acquisitions, mergers, or basic declines) during the past fifty years has attracted increasing attention in the media, popular press, and scholarly literature. One way companies attempt to manage their growth is through innovation. In May 2012, Leslie Kwoh wrote in The Journal: “A search of annual and quarterly reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission shows companies mentioned some form of the word ‘innovation’ 33,528 times last year, which was a 64% increase from five years before that. More than 250 books with “innovation” in the title have been published in the last three months, most of them dealing with business, according to a search of Amazon.com” (Kwoh, 2012). According to Google Book Search, use of the term “innovation” has increased 28% from 1993. The surge in interest in the topic has also been reflected on the internet, where a related search garners a plethora of websites, blogs, and journal articles.

Clearly, the issue of managing growth while protecting current assets is of growing, if not paramount, interest to leaders and employees alike. Virtually every business magazine (Inc, Entrepreneur, Forbes, Wired—to name a few) has its own top 10 or top 100 list of innovative companies. There are innovation summits and conferences. Companies are touting chief innovation officers, innovation teams, innovation strategies and even innovation days. Much is known with respect to how to make companies more innovative. Crisis does not receive the same level of expression in the media (such as top 10 lists or conferences), most likely because the topic is less popular to talk about or align a brand with. However, organizations starting to take notice of issues such as global warming, resource scarcity, and economic interdependency. Michael Klare (2012) discusses in The Race For What Is Left that in many cases, the commodities procured during this new round of extraction will represent the final supplies of their type; the race we are on today is the last of its kind that we are likely to undertake. Mentions of the word crisis in the Google Book Search decreased 3% from 1993 but is at an all-time high with an increase of 74% from 1950.

Despite all this interest, however, there is still much unknown about the difficulties of making the shifts in thinking and behavior that innovation requires. Most of the research to date has centered on technical solutions and organizational structure. This is understandable given the speed of change and pressure to grow, and the number of crises that organizations manage (Christensen, 2011; Mitroff & Silvers, 2010; Tushman, Smith, & Binns, 2011).Largely missing in the research, however, is an understanding of the impact of leadership bias and organizational anxiety. It is this dimension of the tension that leaders must manage.

The purpose of this essay is to explore the contextual factors and various perspectives related to the management of tension between innovation, stability, and crisis management in organizations to provide support for further doctoral research into the topic area. The structure of the essay is in three main parts:

• An exploration of the antecedents of organizational culture: climate, culture, organizational lifecycle; ambidexterity
• An exploration of leadership within the specific context of the management of organizational tension: understanding problems and errors; bias, anxiety, and ways of approaching problems.
• Implications and future research directions. Based on the available literature, and the large unknowns about this subject, what are the future research opportunities for studying the role of management of tension in organizations?

### Antecedents of Culture in Organizations

A number of studies have investigated the potential antecedents of organizational culture. Some have focused on the impact of the leaders, while others have examined the contextual factors that may contribute to organizational culture. The following segment this essay explores both the individual characteristics and organizational factors that contribute to how tension is managed.

Organizational Factors

Some researchers believe that the path to growth and the ability to ward off crisis effectively lies in technology solutions and organizational structure (Christensen, 1996). From other perspectives, however, leaders deal with significant challenges to managing welcome and unwelcome change: the pace of technological advances; stakeholder readiness to blame management for failures; leaders’ feeling that they must create growth at any cost; irrational goals for the company’s longevity; and, general fear and complacency (Sull, 2003; Ormerod, 2005; Tellis, 2006; Forster, 2010; Christensen, 2011).

Summarizing information from existing research studies imply that organizations are best positioned for success if they are: open to new information/experimentation; relatively flat; have good internal-external information flow; are aware of conflicts; have competences emphasizing ambidexterity; and, are customer-centric (Hauschildt, 1993; Tushman & O’Reilly, 2002; Leonard-Barton, D., 2007; Patniak, 2009).

Culture and Climate

Organizational culture and climate are concepts that focus on how organizational participants observe, experience, and make sense of their work environments (Schneider, Ehrhart, & Macy, 2011). They are fundamental building blocks for describing and analyzing organizational phenomena (Schein, 1984). Culture and climate have been approached from different scholarly traditions and have their roots in different disciplines. However, both are about understanding psychological phenomena in organizations. Both concepts rest upon the assumption of shared meanings—a shared understanding of some aspect of an organization.

Historically, the construct of climate preceded the construct of culture. The social context of the work environment, termed “atmosphere,” was discussed as early as 1910 (Scott, 1911). The termclimate was formally introduced in the1960’s. It was primarily based on the theoretical concepts proposed by social scientist Kurt Lewin. As student of group dynamics, Lewin (1943) coined the term “force field”, which is analysis that provides a framework for looking at the factors (forces) that influence a situation—specifically, forces that are either driving movement toward a goal (helping forces) or blocking movement toward a goal (hindering forces). This was followed by empirical research (Lewin, Lippitt, & White, 1939) which included unconscious motivations in individual and group behavior (Scheidlinger, 1994). The important idea to understand is that climate is about experiential descriptions or perceptions of what happens. Culture helps define why these things happen (Schein, 1984; Schneider et al., 2011). However, not all of the literature makes a distinction between climate and culture and often refers to them synonymously. Additionally, culture is the most frequent term used in the business literature to describe both the what and why of organizational behavior. This essay adopts the same protocol.

Organizational culture is learned, passed on, and can be changed (Schein, 1984). It is more than a shared set of meanings. Schein (1984) defines culture as “the pattern of basic assumptions that a given group has invented, discovered, or developed in learning to cope with its problems of external adaptation and internal integration, and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems” (Schein, 1984, p. 3). Leonard-Barton (1998), who studied how managerial systems support and reinforce the growth of knowledge through carefully designed education initiatives and incentives, suggests that organizational values serve to screen and encourage or discourage the accumulation of different kinds of knowledge.

Thinking about the topic of culture has evolved from considering skills to be core if they differentiate a company and can be operationalized, to considering skills core if they can differentiate a company strategically (Leonard-Barton, 1998; 2007). When skills such as experimentation, the ability to work with autonomy, and integration of deep learning are not encouraged in an organization, the core strategic skill of asking the right questions also declines. Leadership is an important direct or indirect factor believed to influence organizational culture (Kozlowski & Doherty, 1989; Zohar & Tenne-Gazit, 2008) due to the fact that managers and leaders are largely responsible for communicating meaning (Schein, 1984). Even their personalities have been related to individual workers’ perceptions of justice in the culture (Mayer, Nishii, Schneider, & Goldstein, 2007).

An organization’s culture goes deeper than the words used in its mission statement. Hofstede (2001) would say organizational culture is a commonly held framework in the minds of its members. This framework screens, encourages, or discourages the accumulation of specific kinds of knowledge or behaviors (Leonard-Barton, 1998). Organizational culture is developed over time as people in the organization learn to deal successfully with problems of external adaptation and internal integration (Schein, 1999). It becomes the common language that employees speak and the common background they share among each other as they negotiate opportunities for and threats to the organization.

Though many try, leaders do not build products or declare a culture. Leaders build companies (systems) that build products. The most powerful thing a leader can do is change the system, not tinker with product features—that is where leaders can have the highest leverage. Culture is created through a leader’s behaviors which define what is permissible toward the implicit or explicit goals/values of the organization (such as profit, integrity with customers, or increased market share). Melvin Conway, a computer programmer introduced this idea in 1968. His formulation of it was dubbed Conway’s Law by participants at the 1968 National Symposium on Modular Programming. It states that organizations which design systems “… are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations (Conway, 1968)”. For example, leaders cannot foster a culture of experimentation if they punish failure.

Cultures have many levels and facets. At the deepest levels are values that express enduring preferences. For example, customer-centered organizations are held together by a central value that every decision begins with the customer and with anticipated opportunities for advantage for the organization. A more accessible level of a culture is its norms, which are shared beliefs about appropriate or expected behavior. A common norm within customer-centered organizations is that employees are customer advocates. Another distinguishing norm shapes the individual employee’s willingness to share information with his or her counterparts: When this norm encourages sharing, the entire firm is in a better position to meet customer needs. Conversely, a destructive norm found in many firms is that sales ’owns the customer,’ which greatly impedes information sharing. Norms and values are a way to ensure alignment and consistency across the organization. Once established, they can contribute to a construct of the organization which can make the organization seek stability over evolution and become resistant to change (Leonard-Barton, 1998).

Cultural change follows from behavioral change. Although culture is generally the most significant impediment to change, there is no evidence that efforts directly aimed at changing a culture are likely to succeed. Cultural change is achieved by altering behavior patterns and helping employees understand how the new behaviors benefit them and improve performance. Senior management commitment, persistence, and intense communication eventually overcome inevitable resistance. The odds of success are much improved if there is a sense of urgency and a compelling strategic rationale (Sarros, Cooper, & Santora, 2008).

### Strategies and Lifecycles

Market Strategies

Organizations utilize three primary types of strategies in order to innovate or develop a lead in the market: as pioneers, imitators, or late entrants (Kalyanaram & Gurumurthy, 1998; Trott & Hartmann, 2009; Tybout & Calder, 2010). Pioneers specialize in performing the discovery research function that previously took place primarily within R&D functions of larger organizations. They innovate for the sake of innovation. Research suggests that the ability of a firm to commercialize disruptive technology ahead of competitors is a rare and valuable marketing capability and qualitatively different from those skills required for later entrants (Bowman & Gatigon, 1996; Kalyanaram, Robinson, & Urban, 1995). Interestingly, a number of explorers evolved as spinoffs of laboratories that used to be part of a larger organization (Chesbrough, 2003b). The breakup of the Bell System from AT&T Corporation provides a good example. AT&T needed to give up control of Bell Operating Companies, which provided local telephone service in the United States. This effectively took the monopoly that was the Bell System, and split it into entirely separate companies which would continue to provide telephone service.

As in nature, imitation is about scale and energy (cost) minimization. Also called “early or fast followers,” imitators base their strategy on being low-cost producers, and success is dependent on achieving economies of scale in manufacturing (Trott & Hartmann, 2009; Tybout & Calder, 2010). Such a company requires exceptional skills and capabilities in production and process engineering. This strategy is defensive. It involves following another company, except that the imitator’s technology base is not usually as well developed as the pioneer or the late entrant. Imitators often license technology from other companies. Early years of Microsoft illustrate this best, where in order to compete effectively in the productivity space, they acquired much of their technology (Word Perfect, Lotus, etc.) externally, later reverse engineering Microsoft Office to be an integrated suite of products, which took several years. Similarly, much of the technology that went into Windows 95 actually came directly from Xerox. From this position, it is then possible for imitators to incorporate design improvements to existing products (Hobday et al., 2004). Imitators require enough of a technology base to develop improved versions so that they may develop improved versions of the original product: improved, that is, in terms of lower cost, different design, additional features, etc. (Trott & Hartmann, 2009). An imitator needs to be agile in manufacturing, design and development, and marketing. Microsoft copied or acquired much of its initial technology offerings, perfecting the manufacturing path. This enabled it to respond quickly when a new pioneering company created a new market. Without much in-house R&D in the early days, the Microsoft’s response would have been much slower in getting Office or Windows to market, as this would have involved substantially more learning and understanding of the technology.

Late entrants come to the market once a product is established and the market is mature. Their costs for entry are typically the lowest as they enjoy the benefits of not needing to educate customers and have lower research costs. They can also learn quickly from a changing market since they lack the history of pioneering organizations. An example of this was Sony’s 1975 Betamax video standard, followed a year later by JVC’s VHS. The two standards battled for dominance, with VHS eventually emerging as the winner. One major reason cited was because the VHS recording length was 2 hours longer than Betamax. JVC not only listened to customers and responded to their frustration at Betamax’s inability to record movies, but they formed the right alliance with strategic partners, putting Sony at a disadvantage (Tan, 2008).

Organizational Lifecycles

In order for leaders to gauge whether a problem is occurring at a normal time for their development stage, they must understand the corporate life cycle. Organizational life cycles are defined by the management of a particular kind of polarity: the interrelationship of flexibility and control (Adizes, 1988; Johnson, 1996). Much like human maturity, organizational life cycles are not defined by their chronological age, sales or assets, or number of employees. They are defined by the leader’s (and subsequently the organization’s) ability to distinguish between technical and adaptive challenges (Heifetz, 1994). Most of the challenges leaders face today are adaptive. These challenges require leaders to adapt their level or stage of mental complexity rather than simply apply technical solutions. The misapplication of technical solutions to adaptive problems (a type 3 error) is seen as a major source of dysfunction.

Chris Argyris (1999) has long proposed a model of leadership wherein the leader is implicitly being asked to have a self-transforming (or fifth order) mind. It is that mind that can understand the challenges at each stage of the development lifecycle, reduce the amount of death experienced, and attain the Prime (renewal) stage most frequently. Organizations age much as people do (Heifetz, 1994; Argyis, 1999; Keagan & Lahey, 2009), they manage tensions throughout each stage of development (Adizes, 1988; Johnson, 1996; Tushman, Smith, & Binns, 2011), and they scale like all other life forms (West, 2011). Corporate lifecycles have the following phases:

• Courtship. Founders focus on ideas and future possibilities, plans are ambitious. Organization is small, power rests with founder, and the structure is simple. Information is simple to process. Courtship ends and infancy begins when the founders assume risk.
• Infancy. Founders’ attention shifts from ideas and possibilities to results. Power is spread among investors and owners, specialization starts, information processing increases in complexity (Lester et al, 2003). The need to make sales drives this action-oriented, opportunity-driven stage. There is not much emphasis on efficiency, paperwork, controls, systems, procedures, delegation, or work-life balance.
• Go-Go. The founders believe in their infallibility (Linnell, 2005), sales are the main goal and emphasis is on rapid growth. Due to arrogance and hubris problem identification can be challenging (Mitroff & Silvers, 2010). Founders see everything as an opportunity; their arrogance leaves their businesses vulnerable to obvious mistakes. They organize their companies around people rather than functions; capable employees can—and do—wear many hats, but the founders continue to make every decision—which increases cultural anxiety (Adizes, 1988).
• Adolescence. Founders hire chief operating officers and organization starts to formalize but delegation is still an issue. An attitude of us (the old-timers) versus them (the COO and his or her supporters) hampers operations. There are so many internal conflicts, people have little time left to serve customers. Companies suffer a temporary loss of vision.
• Prime. Leaders achieve balance between control and flexibility; tap into the right flow of internal-external and top-down flow of information (Adizes, 1988; He & Wong, 2004). Leaders are “managing the middle” of the polarity (Johnson, 1996). They are disciplined yet innovative, prepared yet not bureaucratic. Consistently meet their customers’ needs. New businesses sprout up within the organization, and they are decentralized to provide new life-cycle opportunities.
• Stability. Companies are still strong, but without the eagerness of their earlier stages. They are larger than most of their competition, power is distributed among numerous stakeholders, structure is functioning and becoming more formal, and information processing is more sophisticated (Lester et al, 2003). Leaders welcome new ideas but with less excitement than they did during the growing stages. The financial people begin to impose controls for short-term results in ways that curtail long-term innovation. The emphasis on marketing and research and development declines
• Aristocracy. Not making waves becomes a way of life. Outward signs of respectability–dress, office decor, and titles–take on enormous importance. Companies acquire businesses rather than incubate start-ups. These organizations are generally more widely dispersed, structure is divisional or matrixed, information processing is complex, and decisions emphasize the need for continued growth (Lester et al, 2003). The culture emphasizes how things are done over what’s being done and why people are doing it. Company leaders rely on the past to carry them into the future.
• Blame. In this stage of decay, companies conduct witch-hunts to find out who did wrong rather than try to discover what went wrong and how to fix it. Cost reductions take precedence over efforts that could increase revenues. Backstabbing and corporate infighting rule. Executives fight to protect their turf, isolating themselves from their fellow executives. Petty jealousies reign supreme.
• Bureaucracy. If companies do not die in the previous stage—maybe they are in a regulated environment where the critical factor for success is not how they satisfy customers but whether they are politically an asset or a liability—they become bureaucratic. Procedure manuals thicken, paper work abounds, and rules and policies choke innovation and creativity. Even customers—forsaken and forgotten—find they need to devise elaborate strategies to get anybody’s attention.
• Death. This may come gradually or suddenly, with one massive blow. The organization has a centralized structure with few controls, information processing is not as sophisticated or current as it once was, decision making is centralized and generally top-down, and decisions are conservative (Lester et al, 2003). Organizations crumble when they cannot generate the cash they need; the outflow finally exhausts any inflow; customers and employees leave.

### Ambidexterity

Effective responsiveness to internal or external disruption plays a key role in whether the organization can develop winning strategies for its survival. From this perspective, leaders (and employees) often tend to come up against, wrestle with, or try to harness invisible forces in the organization’s culture when attempting change. Innovation is viewed by most organizations as hard work. Why? When it fails to work, four primary challenges to innovation come up in the literature: 1) management is to blame (Agarwal & Echambadi, 2004; Leonard-Barton, 2007; Rosenbloom, 2000; Tripsas & Gavetti, 2000; Jassawalla & Sashittal, 2002; Prather & Turrell, 2002; Sanz-Valle, Jiménez-Jiménez, & Naranjo-Valencia, 2011); 2) all stakeholders have unreasonable expectations around growth (Allen and Zook, 2001; Foster and Kaplan, 2011; Collins, 2001; Olson, 2008); 3) there are irrational goals for the longevity of the company (Wiggins and Ruefli, 2002; 2005; Ormerod, 2005; Forster, 2010) and, 4) ineffective management leaders must contend with complacency and fear for themselves and the organization (Porter, 1998; Mitroff & Anagnos, 2001).

Organizational ambidexterity (or agility as it is referred to in organizations) is the ability to create processes for both small and large change simultaneously. Current studies on innovation management suggest that it is crucial to an organization’s survival. Successful firms are effective at using existing skills to create gradual improvements (exploitative innovations) while at the same time successfully exploring new skills and technologies to create breakthrough (explorative) innovations (Levanthal & March, 1993; Floyd & Lane, 2000; Volberda & Lewin, 2003; Gibson & Birkinshaw, 2004; He & Wong, 2004). To achieve this, an organization must reconcile internal tensions between the two innovation pathways as well as tensions caused by contradictory demands for fast growth placed on the organization by its external environment (Jansen et al., 2006). Openness to information and ideas reduces the need for formal controls and decreases the usefulness of bureaucracy. According to Burgelman (1991) and other researchers (Tushman & O’Reilly, 1996; Volberda, 1996; Eisenhardt & Martin, 2000; Benner & Tushman, 2003), an organization needs to learn how to achieve a balance between exploitative and explorative innovation activities if it is to achieve sustainably superior performance. An organization that fails to achieve this balance risks falling into a downward spiral of mediocrity (March, 1991).

Most companies are constrained by the pressures of the here and now and as a result have a short-term focus. They typically think quarter to quarter, driven by shareholders’ (and markets’) irrational and constant demands for growth. Some companies are highly reactive to this dynamic, while others take a more measured, proactive approach. To stay on top of ever changing demands, an increasing number of corporations are starting to engage with users in open-innovation (Burr & Matthews, 2008; Kruse, 2012; Wagner, 2013) as a strategy to manage internal / external information flow, bringing more of the outside-in.

Three studies illustrate good examples of the need for balance in order to innovate. Their suggestion is that leaders need to develop internally consistent structures and an internal operating culture that provides for excelling today while also planning for the future. While most Fortune 500 companies claim these dual processes today, very few have reset their markets with new truly new paradigms. These organizations manage inertia through iteration, and business continuity practices, resulting from the very capabilities that made them successful. Given the contrasting forces for change and stability, leaders need to create environments that celebrate efficiency as well as experimentation and discontinuous change simultaneously.

In the first study, O’Reilly III & Tushman (2002) use case study research to propose that in order to avoid long-term failure while focusing on short-term success leaders must manage an “ambidextrous organization (p. 15)” (as discussed above). The concept of ambidextrous organizations is not new (it was first suggested by R. B. Duncan in 1976), but O’Reilly III & Tushman add “innovation streams” to the discussion, which are the “patterns by which organizations develop new and better products and services (2002, p. 14)”. Success with innovation hinges on the understanding of the dynamics of technology cycles and management of these “streams” and being able to proactively shape these streams through irregular organizational change. Innovation streams and technology cycles require that managers periodically cannibalize what they are doing today in order to ensure leadership of other innovation streams in the future—to destroy their business while it is still working. The danger is that, out of fear of not making next quarter’s numbers, they regress back to the core capabilities that made them successful (O’Reilly III & Tushman, 2002; Leonard-Barton, 2007).

Tushman et al. (2011) did a later study researching 12 top management teams at major companies and suggest that firms thrive only when senior teams lead ambidextrously—when they foster a state of constant creative conflict between the old and the new. Tushman (2011) highlights three core tenants for success for CEOs: the development of a broad, forward-looking strategic aspiration that sets ambitious targets both for innovation and core business growth; the ability to hold the tension between innovation unit demands and core business demands at the very top of the organization; and, the ability to embrace inconsistency, allowing themselves the latitude to pursue multiple and often conflicting agendas. Chandrasekaran, Linderman, & Schroeder (2012) suggest that a competency in ambidexterity involves three capabilities at different organizational levels: decision risk (strategic level), structural differentiation (project level), and contextual alignment (meso level). They examined the relationship between qualifications and ambidexterity competency by collecting multi-level data from 34 high tech business units and 110 exploration and exploitation R&D projects. Their results indicate that decision risk and contextual alignment affect ambidexterity competency for high tech organizations. Structural differentiation does not affect ambidexterity competency but has mixed effects on R&D project performance.

In the third study, Sarros, Cooper, & Santora (2008) surveyed 1,158 managers and found evidence that transformational leadership is associated with organizational culture, primarily through the processes of articulating a vision, and to a lesser extent through the setting of high performance expectations and providing individual support to workers. Combined with the capacity to consider others’ feelings and recognize others’ personal needs, both indicators of providing individual support, leadership vision and setting high performance expectations are significant forces to be reckoned with (Sarros, Cooper, & Santora, 2008, p. 154).

### Key Principles

Eight themes come to the forefront of the literature that characterize an innovative organization (Hauschildt, 1993; Tushman & O’Reilly, 2002; Leonard-Barton, D., 2007); they are: openness; flat organization; information management; awareness of conflicts; recruiting requirements; competences and responsibilities (in particular ambidexterity); and, customer-centricity. These characteristics are able to optimize organizational innovation processes leading to innovation success.

The openness of an organization is its ability to absorb information and effectively transform it into action. Innovative companies focus on relationships with opinion leaders. They are open to any kind of discussion. Employees at all levels are encouraged to be intellectually curious, willing and free to experiment and to explore knowledge creation (Davenport, Delong, & Beers, 1998).

A minimum level of organization is typical for innovative organizations. High-velocity, or high-uncertainty environments require simple routines, and a dependenceon people over process (Eisenhardt & Martin, 2000). To be creative, people need the freedom to manage their roles and responsibilities—a very high degree of autonomy. Only a limited number of rules define the joint working process. Work is not assigned to them: They create projects aligned to core business goals.

Openness and independence are also reflected in the information management of highly innovative organizations. Communication is organized by rules only to a small extent. People are not inhibited in sharing knowledge, and they do not fear that sharing knowledge will cost them their jobs. As a result, they are not alienated or resentful of the company.

Creative conflicts (experimentation) are the seeds for innovation. Innovative companies support cultures, where conflicts arise and are discussed. With conflicts the employees are trained how to handle new situations.

Innovative companies have accordingly adapted recruiting requirements. These organizations attract and hire people who reinforce the positive orientation towards creativity, innovation, autonomy, and adaptation. People need to have the ability to create conflicts and find ways how to solve them.

Competence and responsibility for innovation is shared within the entire workforce but is especially expected of the leadership team. Everybody within the organization is responsible to develop and push innovation. All employees have the one joint overall target (provided by leadership) to support the development of innovation as it aligns to customer needs.

The organization is not focused on selling products but rather on fulfilling customer needs (Levitt, 1960); the customer determines what a business is, what it produces, and whether it will prosper (Drucker, 1954).

A culture with a positive orientation to innovation is one that highly values learning on and off the job, and one in which experience, expertise and rapid innovation supersede hierarchy.

### Individual Characteristics

The following sections of this essay explore specific concepts relating to managing the polarity of flexibility and control. The axis of understanding is organizational anxiety. This exploration establishes the basis for dissertation research to contribute additional knowledge to this crucial and understudied aspect of transformational leadership, innovation, and crisis management.

How tension is managed (or not) included in this section all have applicability to help better conceptualize and understand the ways in which leaders operate in the organization. Successful management of this tension has unique characteristics, they can: effectively respond to internal or external disruption; correctly interpret complex, adaptive problems, and identify errors; and, they can manage a wide spectrum of change (from innovation to crisis), including the anxiety and uncertainty that comes with it.

### Bias and Mental Models

There are two elements that leaders need awareness of in order to boost their odds of success: tackling cognitive biases and understanding their own impact on culture. Both of these factors contribute to the creation, nurturing, protection, and evolution of mental models. These elements also impact leaders’ ability to correctly identify opportunities they might be blind to and problems they might be misinterpreting.

Leaders of start-ups and long-time companies alike are mindful that factors such as timing, scale relative to the competition, and the ability to leverage complementary assets (Horn, Lovallo, & Viguerie, 2005, para. 1), geographic expansion, new products, and diversification efforts should prompt detailed analysis. However cognitive bias—that systematic error in the way we process information—can warp decision making (Mitroff & Silvers, 2010) of any kind—and rarely gets discussed. “The majority of bad decisions, errors, and mistakes that [leaders] make are … are the result of the highly standardized ways in which [leaders] are educated and of the enormous pressures placed on them to think and act decisively” (Mitroff & Silvers, 2010, p.xvi).

Leaders (and subsequently the organization) need to distinguish between technical and adaptive challenges. Ronald Heifetz’s Leadership Without Easy Answers (1994) defines technical leadership as doing what is required to address an issue or problem when there a known or knowable resolution. Adaptive leadership is when the solution was unknown and members of the organization need to be drawn together to discern a new direction.

When confronted with a difficult decision, most executives solve old and new problems with the assumptions, mindsets, and institutions of the past (Mitroff & Silvers, 2010). In essence, they are behaving like mere managers and technicians who, as part of the corporate machine, do already-known things right. Leaders need to pause and ask ‘what is the right thing to do?’ Solving the wrong problem perfectly prevents many leaders from developing an outside perspective and even from evaluating opportunities in the light of common predictors of success.

Biases enable hubris which can often lead executives to believe that a company’s skills are more relevant than they really are, that the potential market is bigger than it actually is, or that rivals won’t respond to the entry move. Heifetz warned that there were a number of perils involved in adaptive leadership, because such challenges require experimentation, the discovery of new knowledge, and various adjustments throughout the organization. Only by adjusting attitudes, values, and behaviors can the organization adapt to a new environment and sustain such change over time; this shift in values or perspective is the most difficult (Heifetz, 1994; Graves, et al, 2005, Keagan & Lahey, 2009; Argyris, 1999).

Bias impacts how leaders and organizations perceive, take in, and react to disruption—mental models provide a construct for bias to develop. Mental models and organizational capabilities rally in protection of current assets. A calcification of knowledge occurs and bureaucracy starts to set in. For change to occur, employees have to be disloyal to their past and some of the constructs and relationships that shaped it (Heifetz, 2007). For example, if an organization were to consider abandoning formal processes such as status reports, scorecards, and monthly review meetings, they would have to be disloyal to the processes utilized in previous generations of the organization which had achieved the successes they were benefitting from. Exploring new possibilities would mean considering the idea that current processes could be ineffective. One option might be to adopt a technical approach such as automating current processes may mask the more substantial change that could enhance the organization’s effectiveness. Or the organization might be considering radical departures such as transparent accounting or monthly sessions that are open to the entire company rather than their current centralized processes. Staying with the old way may obscure a deeper and more important concern related to core organization purposes.

New growth typically involves different disciplines within the company. However, cross-functional collaboration presents a number of challenges (Schein, 1984). Members of different functions may hold different mental models of innovation, which can lead to frictions and misunderstandings. Mental Models are people’s representations of the world based on experiences and assumptions. The concept originated from cognitive psychology (Craik, 1943; Johnson-Laird 1983). It was adapted and later used heavily in the field of Human Factors Engineering as conceptions about how systems work (Nielsen, 1990; Moray, 1999), which since the 1990s has largely been incorporated into the field of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI).

Use of mental models was popularized in the HCI and interaction design community by Donald Norman (1998) in his book The Design of Everyday Things. He provides several examples of how mental models became an explanatory device for making sense of usability problems. For example, if a system fails to match a user’s mental model of it then there will be a breakdown. When a system matches the mental model of the person using it there should be fewer if any problems. Therefore it is thought that in order to build computer programs, systems, and especially interfaces, system developers should aim to match the mental model of those using the system. The concept of mental models is a powerful one, bringing with it the baggage of cognitive psychology, but we do not import this wholesale; rather, we invoke it as a metaphor useful in explaining how people understand their work.

Mental Models are used in organizations to edit the world and facilitate operations by simplifying complex situations and permitting distributed decision making. They are, in essence, goal-driven images of the world that are built to understand the current and future states of a situation. As such, they are best characterized by incompleteness.

### Challenges

Like all crutches, both bias and mental models are useful because they can help filter information. However, they can also enable dependency, atrophy, and focus on maintaining the status quo. When faced with disruption (such as a crisis event, regular market competition, or finite resources) people generally favor the mental factors that are based on experience, expertise, knowledge, and learning; these become liabilities and make the system rigid (Senge, 1990; Leonard-Barton, 1998; 2007).

Mental models experience four common challenges. First, the oversimplification that made them useful ca n render them incorrect. Second, they can be improperly used. Third, they can lead to wrong answers if provided incorrect information. And fourth, their effectiveness is rarely assessed. Much like a company’s highly developed core capacity, mental models can often present the single most important barrier to change. Long-held mental models can make a company rigid.

The elements of the corporate architecture change as the corporation matures and the mental models change. It is the evolution of corporate architecture—with the mental models steering the direction—that determines the competitiveness of the corporation. Unmanaged, the evolution of the corporate architecture proceeds in a predictable way, which inevitably leads to cultural lock-in—a state in which the organization is effectively frozen in place by three fears: the fear of cannibalization of the existing product line, the fear of moving into businesses that will conflict with its customers’, and the fear of acquiring companies that will result in the short-term dilution of the company’s earnings and therefore a potential decline in stock price (Foster & Kaplan, 2001). Thus the process of building mental models—whether these processes are explicit and examined or implicit and unexamined—is the core managerial process of the corporation. If a mental model goes undefined, it will go unrecognized. A mental model unrecognized is a mental trap, a trap that prevents further learning.

### Interventions

Although mental models cannot and should not be avoided, they must be re-examined and adapted to reflect discontinuity and new opportunities (Senge 1990; Foster, 2001). An example of this is the myopia suffered by the railroad industry, and later the taxi industry. The railroads did not stop growing because the need for passenger and freight transportation declined. That grew. The railroads are in trouble today not because the need was filled by others (Cars, trucks, airplanes, etc.), but because it was not filled by the railroads themselves. They let others take customers away from them because they assumed themselves to be in the railroad business rather than in the transportation business. The same fate has befallen the taxi industry in the advent of rideshare programs like Uber and Lift.

Every industry has been a growth industry. However those that are riding a wave of growth enthusiasm are already in the shadow of decline (Levitt, 1960; Collins, 2011; West, 2011). Others which are thought of as seasoned growth industries have actually stopped growing. In every case, growth is threatened, slowed, or stopped not because the market is saturated but because of a failure of management. Shortsighted managers often fail to recognize that in fact there is no such thing as a growth industry (Levitt, 1960). This is an example of a restrictive “mental model,” an image that some industries have of themselves which keeps them from seeing their actual situation more objectively.

In a period of disruption (technical advancements, external threats, finite resources, quality issues, etc.) the very mental models that are at the heart of managerial strength are also at the heart of managerial weakness. Functions like sustainability, crisis management, and corporate responsibility have become increasingly relevant in organizations (Sterman, 2000; Kahane, 2004; Mitroff & Anagnos, 2001; 2011; Carroll & Shabana, 2010). Here again, leaders fall into technical leadership (doing what was required to address an issue or problem when there was a known resolution) instead of adopting these new functions. Such functions were not required on path to success, so incorporating them seems initially unnecessary. In trying to replicate the success of the past, however, leaders have missed that the world context is changing, requiring such functions to help them navigate, prepare, and innovate.

### Understanding Problems

As globalization, finite resources, and other influences force companies and entire industries into greater interdependence with their stakeholders, companies are called upon to deal with an ever increasingly amount of complexity. Melanie Mitchell (2009) defines complexity as containing three primary characteristics: the situation is emergent; 2) as a result, there is a constant flow ofinformation to negotiate; and 3) this means that actors in the system are constantly adapting their behavior. Complexity can result in positive or negative disruption. The problem is not an inability to take action but an inability to take appropriate action. The world is changing in complex ways. Companies need to respond to the changes, but because of the complexity, finding an appropriate response is a challenge. Companies can look at this challenge either through an innovation lens (seeking to respond via new products and systems) or a prevention lens (seeking to prevent loss or disruption of existing business).

A major concept in understanding how leaders respond to welcome and unwelcome change is understanding how they negotiate complexity, and how the identify problems. Mitroff & Alpaslan (2011) quote Russell Ackoff on the understanding of problems as symptoms of wider systemic messes:

[People] are not confronted with problems that are independent of each other, but the dynamic situations that consists of complex systems of changing problems that interact with each other…..I call such situations messes. Problems are abstractions extracted from messes by analysis…..

Therefore, when a mess, which is a system of problems, is taken apart [i.e., analyzed], it loses its essential properties and so does each of its parts. The behavior of a mess depends more on how the treatment of its parts interact than how they act independently of each other. A partial solution to a whole system of problems is better than whole solutions each of each of its parts taken separately [emphasis added]. (Mitroff & Alpaslan, 2011, p. 16)

Leaders are not just tasked with leading change but with being sensitive to the many reasons why change in programs or procedures is not only needed but becoming more urgent. The basic idea between First and Second-order change is simple. First-order change is doing more or less of something already being done. First-order changes are always reversible, require small adjustments to existing structures in order to maintain or restore balance, and are non-transformational (Bateson, 1979; Bergquist, 1993). With first order change, the old story remains the same. Second-order change is deciding (or being forced) to do something significantly or fundamentally different from what was done in the past. These changes are irreversible, enable a new way of seeing things, and requires new learning (Bateson, 1979; Bergquist, 1993). Second order change often begins through informal networks and results in a transformation to something new. A new story is born.

Related to the kinds of changes leaders need to make, are the kinds of errors they are likely to commit. A Type One error is the incorrect rejection of a true null hypothesis—or a false positive. An example of this would be measures indicating a tsunami where there is none. A Type Two error is the failure to reject a false null hypothesis. An example of this would be a tsunami coming, and measures remaining unconfirmed. Although Type I and Type II errors are taught in virtually all statistics courses, Type Three errors are almost never discussed (Mitroff & Silvers, 2010). Type III errors are the right answer to the wrong question (Raiffa, 1968). We commit Type III errors when we attempt to solve higher order problems with lower level solutions. Mitroff & Silvers (2010) credit Peter Drucker in framing the issue this way: “Managers and technicians do known things right; leaders ask what are the right things to do” (Mitroff & Silvers, 2010, p.4). Raiffa’s point was this: “What good does it do to minimize or control for Type I or II errors if the problem one is attempting to solve is wrong to begin with?” (Mitroff & Silvers, 2010, p.4).

When organizations manage they focus on existing offerings and existing users. They are focusing on the new version of something already successful. They forecast based on what is known, and attempt to control the predictability of the revenue stream—this turns part of the discussions of running the business into an exercise. Exercises are well-defined, canned scenarios, generally within a single discipline, where the information to answer the issue is provided. All confusion and extraneous information (noise) are removed. Once solved, exercises remain solved, turning the solver into a “certainty junky“ (Mitroff & Alpaslan, 2011, p. 19). The majority of the company’s effort is organized toward this type of growth because it provides the most comforting message to their shareholders. In many ways, management turns the business into an exercise. However, something unexpected always happens. Given the pace of technology, failure rate of companies, and general turnover, conditions can never be fully controlled. Mitroff & Alpaslan (2011) make a distinction between exercises and complex problems. However,complex problems cannot just be divided into a series of simple and independent exercises. They are not canned scenarios. They are ill-defined and multidisciplinary. They have more than one solution because they have the potential for more than one formulation. Complex problems are dynamic, always reacting to the solutions implemented, or their environment. Complex problems are messy. If the problem is sanitized to be simpler or more palatable, the solution becomes less effective and the problem becomes worse.

Consider some of the interconnectedness of systems we interact with on a daily basis, such as cloud services constantly under security attacks, or the amount of personal and financial data we share with various organizations on a daily basis. This complex web of relationships started with small and relatively simple transactions. Most people have an online email and bank account. Over time, personal information has become the currency in which many companies barter with us in order to begin a relationship —they require a login. Personal and financial information is now spread exponentially to news and information, entertainment, and online retail sites. The consumer is now faced with how to protect their identity, remember multiple logins, and secure their information. We have created systems that are now so big and so complicated that they have mutated into entirely new forms, highly complex and intertwined (Mitroff & Anagnos, 2001, p. 20). They have grown so complex that no one, including their designers, fully understands how they will act even under “known” operating conditions. In effect, we have created systems that are unmanageable precisely because they have unforeseen and, even worse, unknowable side effects (Mitroff & Anagnos, 2001, p. 22).

The inability of a leader to manage their own fear and complacency (as well as that of their organization) can not only hold the company back, but can hijack an entire industry. Since 2002, Google, Amazon, and Netflix have joined the S&P 500, Kodak, the New York Times, Palm and Compaq have all been forced off, essentially by changing technology. Richard N. Foster, a consultant who helped popularize of the idea of “creative destruction” suggests that big companies cannot ever out-innovate the market (Innosight, 2012). Instead, he thinks that to stay big, companies need to be willing to exit old businesses and enter new ones—and do it quite boldly. The taxi industry is too heavily regulated to innovate something like Uber. And HP could not decide whether to jettison its PC business. Foster’s data do tell us which company is America’s greatest corporate survivor. It is General Electric, the only company that has remained on the S&P Index since it started in 1926.

In the early 1990’s a problem that many early technology companies were trying to solve was the ideal of cross-platform compatibility[1]. Technical approaches such as vendor interdependency, push-button code generation, and cross-compilation were attempted to solve this issue but were unsuccessful. Microsoft, Oracle and other corporate platform entities were blamed for being proprietary and creating a fractured landscape. But the real problem was not a technology issue: it was a usability issue, a culture issue, and a marketing issue. The value in these platforms lay in their differences; they each approached different knowledge areas in a unique way. At one point, Java managed to solve the technological problem for good, and that was the point where the industry realized with sadness that cross-platform compatibility was not as important as was previously thought.

Now that we have multiple devices such as tablets and smartphones, the issue on the table once again is the need for a common operating system. We want to use the same software across these environments. Windows 8 offers the same OS across all these devices. But people do not buy operating systems, they buy devices. A uniform OS will likely not solve the issue of convergence across devices since the devices are inherently different. All the subtle differences will start to add up, requiring unique approaches. Convergence is not the issue, it is interoperability[2]—especially considering that the actual ways of using the devices are starting to diverge. The cell phone is becoming more voice-operated, which is not a feature relevant to the tablet or PC.

The decisions relating to convergence versus interoperability came from an organizational culture where there was twenty five years of legacy to protect (in the operating systems and related software). This resulted in products that had platform convergence as their number one feature. Innovation begins by acknowledging these biases and mental models early on so that the organization can be explicit in its decisions, and enable creativity in thinking beyond the predictable, iterative step.

The literature refers to small versus large changes using a variety of paired terms: incrementalversus iterative (Christensen, 1993), first-order versus second-order (Bateson, 1979; Bergquist, 1993), or exploratory versus exploitative (Ahuja & Lampert, 2001), to name a few[3]. First-order (iterative) change tends to focus on adjustments within existing structures, doing more or less of something; new learning is generally not required, and the old story about the organization can continue. First-order change helps organizations deal with rapid obsolescence of products and services. Examples of this are the iterations of the iPhone and the Windows 95 operating system since their initial launches. The first versions of these products were game changers for their respective companies. Subsequent iterations of the products contained updates, color changes, and platform enhancements, but the primary technologies did not change.

The danger of iterative change is that it provides an open window for competitors to imitate or evolve these same stories at lower cost. Google has done just that with Google Docs, providing a free, cloud-based solution to Microsoft Office’s shrink-wrapped software. This has forced Microsoft to create their own version of their own cloud-based version of MS Office.

Second-order change is about a new way of seeing things: it is irreversible, often begins through an informal system, requires new learning, and tells a new story. Before the iPhone was announced, the Android did not support touchscreen input, a feature that has now become standard throughout the smartphone industry. Google’s plans for Android in 2006 involved physical keys for control and no touchscreen input support. Revealed in court documents from the ensuing Apple-Samsung legal fray, the early specification says that “the product [Android] was designed with the presence of discrete physical buttons as an assumption. However, there is nothing fundamental in the product’s architecture that prevents the support of touchscreen in the future” (Smith, 2013, para. 1). Between the announcement of the iPhone and the finalizing of Android’s software requirements, not only did touchscreen input become supported — multi-input touch was required. Our phones have never been the same again.

### Anxiety

Given all this potential for rigidity, there does not seem to be much room for the culture absorb, synthesize, and act on disruption. In his book, Culture’s Consequences, Geert Hofstede (2001) researched over 115,000 IBMers across 50 nations and analyzed differences in their “mental programs” (or what he referred to as “the software of the mind (p.2)”. His research indicated that national culture mostly stems from consistency in values and organizational culture stems mostly from consistency in practices. Hofstede (2001) highlighted five dimensions of culture, one of which was uncertainty avoidance (UA). His distinction between uncertainty avoidance and risk avoidance is significant in considering an organization’s ability to effectively manage for welcome (innovation) and unwelcome (crisis management) disruption.

Uncertainty is to risk as anxiety is to fear. Fear and risk are both focused on something specific: an object in the case of fear, an event in the case of risk. Risk is often expressed in a percentage of probability that a particular event may happen. Anxiety and uncertainty are both diffuse feelings. Anxiety has no object, and uncertainty has no probability attached to it. It is a situation in which anything can happen and one has no idea what. As soon as uncertainty is expressed as risk, it ceases to be a source of anxiety. It may then become a source of fear or accepted as a routine (Hofstede, 1984, 2001, p. 148).

Uncertainty avoiding cultures shun ambiguous situations. People in such cultures look for structure in their organizations, institutions, and relationships, which makes events clearly interpretable and predictable (Hofstede, 2001, p. 148). Paradoxically, they are often prepared to engage in risky behavior in order to reduce ambiguities—such as starting a fight (i.e., act out) with a potential opponent rather than sitting back and waiting (Hofstede, 2001). His Uncertainty Avoidance index (UAI) is comprised of three questions focused on rule orientation, employment stability, and stress. It suggests that ”in higher-UAI countries innovations are more difficult to bring about” (Hofstede, 2001, p. 167); cultures with lower UAI scores showed higher rates of innovation in terms of trademarks granted (p.169).

### Innovation-Crisis Continuum

A number of companies have tried to build themselves up around creating something truly new, and many have struggled when that idea failed to produce anything that could eventually be commercialized. Being first to market has nothing to do with being first to profitability. And being first to profitability has little to do with how quickly, deeply, and ubiquitously an innovation spreads. What keeps organizations where they were at? What calcified their growth and in some cases enabled their decline? What catalytic factor(s) support(s) a small group of people who felt otherwise and created new enterprises?

Change—welcome or unwelcome—can be viewed through several lenses:

• the type of innovation a company engages in;
• their approach to management of business continuity;
• leader’s degree of ability to manage both short and long term change (ambidexterity) and,
• their perception of problems which have a significant impact on culture.

The type of Innovation an organization engages in (i.e., management, extension, adaptation, and/or creation) determines their growth outcomes. It also is reflective of where the organization is in their market strategy (i.e., pioneers, imitators, and late entrants) and their lifecycle (birth, adolescent, death, to name a few).

Business Continuity is the result of the level of preparation for unexpected disruption (i.e., crises) and serves to protect the company’s current assets. This function is generally staffed based upon the organization’s perception of its relevant markets and the risks within those markets. This paper is investigating the correlations between innovation and crisis management in organizations. Is how one grows one’s business related to how one protects it? While this may be true of all organizations, this paper and subsequent research will focus on high tech organizations.

In dealing with change, leaders need to be aware of the kinds of errors they are likely to commit. Two areas where leaders are likely to misinterpret potential problems are: incorrect interpretation of opportunity (and the organization’s capability to achieve growth or compete) and incorrect judgment of the probability of threats.

Cognitive bias—that systematic error in the way we process information—can warp decision making of any kind. Fear, complacency, and a desire to protect current assets are forces for maintaining the status quo.

High tech organizations confront dual demands of exploring new and exploiting existing products/processes. Ambidexterity is the ability to manage both innovation and protection of assets. Rather than taking a backseat in debates over resources or ceding much of their power to middle managers, leaders need to avoid stagnation and decline by leading toward the correct problem.

An opportunity exists to learn more about how organizational bias and market entry type impact the growth the organization is capable of. For example, it is this paper’s assertion that organizations’ biases and mental models influence cultures and may be an indicator of the kind of anxiety they prefer. For instance, those cultures that favor anxiety and uncertainty related to the unknown will lean more toward creation, and those that favor anxiety and uncertainty related to the predictable will lean more toward managed change.

Examples of companies that were unable to get to the next level are numerous: Why couldn’t the newspapers invent a simple and free online classified-ad service? Why couldn’t jewelry stores have thought of the cost savings and educational opportunity to connect with their customers’ online before Blue Nile came along? Why couldn’t any of the big real estate firms consider Red Fin’s easy to use home listing platform? Why couldn’t local auto dealerships develop a negotiation-free car buying platform like TrueCar.com? Why couldn’t the taxi industry have invented Uber’s ride request mobile application?

Essential to the management of change, whether deliberate or accidental, is the ability to observe, synthesize, and effectively act upon information. Whether predictability of the impacts and responses to change are important depends on the magnitude of the impact and the time needed by the [organization] to respond to the change (Ansoff, 1979, p. 59). Hierarchical organizations tend to need more time to react to threats, so we might assume that is one reason they value predictability. The ”novelty” of change is a measure of how difficult it is for the organization to deal with the change (Ansoff, 1979). Most organizations have a built-in capacity for dealing with incremental change, such as version updates to software. If the change is novel, however, none of their capabilities will apply and substantial additional time will be needed to gather the necessary resources, to train people, to build facilities, and to develop and test new programs.

If organizations want to achieve specific innovation outcomes, they will have to learn to work with and more fully utilize their diverse talent. Inclusion of diverse perspectives is so crucial to innovation that books such as The Ten Faces of Innovation (Kelley, 2005) are simplifying, repackaging, and redefining basic individual contributor personas specifically for innovation purposes. Once cultures become established, they have increasingly lower tolerances for a broad range of personality types—Instead, they require people to fit in, get with the program, and learn “the [IBM, HP, or Microsoft] Way.”

### Spectrum of Change

There is no escape from crises. Depending on their complexity, crises undermine an organization’s sense of stability. Policy responses are based on flight, paralysis, or fight-responses (Mitroff & Silvers, 2010). But everyone in the organizations knows that normal life already “contains” crises. Some can be resolved, many must be contained. Pauchant & Mitroff (1992) define a crisis as a “disruption that physically affects a system as a whole and threatens its basic assumptions, its subjective sense of self and its existential core.” Virtually all crises are interconnected with other crises (Mitroff & Silvers, 2010).

Most organizations rationalize many reasons not to prepare for threats to their business. Disruptions related to business continuity (risk management, crisis preparedness, etc.) are generally unwelcome because they force unplanned change and generally entail tremendous cost. Situational crisis communication theory (SCCT) describes three major categories of crisis types and their related response strategies. They are categorized by the level of responsibility that is likely to be attributed to the organization(s) involved (Coombs & Holladay, 2012, p. 103) (See Appendix-B).

Coombs and Holladay (2012) state that leaders can maintain, gain, or lose customers depending on how they react to organizational threats. For instance, applying the wrong response strategy to a crisis cluster might come from mischaracterizing a Type III problem, responding with a Type I solution, and, as a result, losing products and/or customers. Likewise, a leader who is maintaining the relatively predictable success of veteran products might not notice that the game has changed and that they need to prepare the organization for extending the brand or creating something new.

Disruption and uncertainty created by crises remind us of what makes us human, and emotion is a large part of what requires managing. Crises gives birth to triplets: anxiety (produces tension because its source is difficult to find); fear (results when an organization feels threatened); and hope (that it does not occur again). Jon & Pang (2012) identify four negative emotions (anger, fright, anxiety, and sadness) as the dominant emotions that are most likely to be experienced by the public in crisis situations. Anger is demanding offence against “me” and “mine”; fright is facing uncertain and existential threat; anxiety stems from the core relational theme of facing immediate, concrete, and overwhelming danger; and, sadness related to irrecoverable loss (Jon & Pang, 2012).

When a company has enjoyed a long time leadership position, a decline in performance is a crisis. When this happens, shareholders turn against organizations, and profits and revenues decline. Valued employees migrate to competitors. How quickly the company can reorient itself toward the customer determines how quickly it emerges from crisis. Leaders and organizations overlook the clues hidden in the problem-filled present. On some level, they know they always have the tools that helped them in the past. Perhaps they can cover up, continue to patch, or simply overlook some of the current leaks in the boat. Therefore a policy against problems rests not on reactivity, but planning ahead—thinking toward growth, innovation, and strength.

From creativity, to experimentation, to discipline, to execution, innovation resists definition. There are as many types of innovation as there are organizations. When considering the kinds of organizations in which innovation thrives, many people think of the twenty-something office of self-empowered employees that bring their dogs to work. Behind this image is a view of innovation as the outcome of an unconstrained flow of ideas in an open environment. And, this image is deeply misleading. Innovation can come as readily from a set of simple, structured practices. A more complete definition of innovation that aptly describes how some organizations in crisis have managed to innovate can now be suggested: Innovation is a disciplined process by which an idea is created, realized, and iterated upon, resulting in increased business value and an improved experience.

Additionally, creativity depends on open networks, whether we are considering personal creativity or organizational creativity. It is assumed that entrepreneurial people, the type that thrive in high uncertainty, are typically driven from the large established corporate environment. The slow-moving, hierarchical decision making processes, the bureaucratic mindset and the numerous formal channels through which employees are required to report are too burdensome for the entrepreneurial type to handle. But O’Connor & McDermott (2004) found evidence to the contrary. There are aspects of large corporations that some very action-oriented, entrepreneurial, visionary people thrive on (p. 26). They simply know how to work the system, and that system is based largely on human connections of immensely capable people.

There are many innovation frameworks and all of them start with the idea of moving from existing customers and products to new customers and products. Within these frameworks most leaders utilize aspects of two primary product strategies: 1) penetrating the market, product development, market development and diversifying (Ansoff; 1979, 2007); 2) costs (implies intensifying the investments, which afterwards implies productivity growth), differentiation (implies a growing attention to maintain the uniqueness of the product’s characteristics or service), and focusing (implies concentration over a narrow market segment, or niche) (Porter, 1980). The first strategy concentrates on the extension of a strategy, the second is based on identifying an organization’s implicit strategy and bringing it to the foreground so that it can more explicitly incorporated into the company’s vision.

IDEO’s CEO, Tim Brown (2009) wrote Change by Design which brings together concepts of participatory and open innovation to emphasize the power of design thinking in innovation. His model is representative of a standard innovation diagram. Called the “Ways to Grow” matrix (See Appendix A), it illustrates four main ways to grow a business: managing existing customers on existing products and services with incremental changes; extending the business to new customers and products by enhancing the brand proposition; creating new products that reset the industry; and the most radical sort of innovation—adapting the industry entirely to a new level (Asnoff, 1979; Porter, 1980; Tushman & O’Reilly, 1996; Brown; 2009). This paper proposes a more radical interpretation of this quadrant as not only resetting the industry, but including the possibility for establishing an entirely new one (Tushman, 2011). Organizations tend to find themselves in one area of this matrix or another during their lifespan. For instance, when Apple developed the first Macintosh, iPhone, and iPod, they created new stories for themselves. Later, they managed iterations on existing products.

### Change Continuum

Imagine a continuum. On one end is the high anxiety of the unknown. On the other end is the high anxiety of crises we have a hand in creating. The middle is relatively safe and predictable.

To understand emotional processes, Friedman (2007) employs the family systems theories of Dr. Murray Bowen. Rather than trying to understand families in terms of their cultural, ethnic, or socio-economic distinctions, Bowen focused instead on the underlying processes that families share in common with all other groups or societies (Gilbert, 2006). From this perspective the most critical thing for any society or family is how well they are able to “handle the natural tension between individuality and togetherness, their ability to maintain their identity during crisis, and their capacity to produce well-differentiated leadership (p. 56)”. The same holds true of anxiety in organizations.

In deciding what mode of innovation to pursue, companies need to consider not only where the industry is in its lifecycle but where they are in their own, and what bias they have toward anxiety. In essence, which kind of anxiety do they prefer?

The “Disruption Continuum” (See Appendix C) illustrates the continuum of disruption an organization is likely to face in its lifetime—from crises (loss) to innovation (growth). Movement occurs depending on the event and the organization’s ability to tolerate the anxiety that comes from change. They can slide to the left for various clusters of crises, and to the right through various states of innovation. An organization with an orientation toward openness and experimentation will prefer the anxiety of the unknown, as in the case with Apple. Steve Jobs took his organization to the creation state where the product introduced represented the new dominant design for the market. A company like Microsoft managed much of its legacy with Windows and Office and spent much time mitigating crises related to them such as antitrust law suits. While both organizations developed products that reset the market, spent time managing the success of those revenue streams, and mitigated crises, Microsoft visited the create state less and managed an orientation of anxiety toward predictable revenue.

Those organizations that are in high crises clusters are low in innovation are defensive. They are prepared systemically for many crises, not just a few. Conversely, those organizations that are high in innovation and low on crises are reactive. They generally have a low preparation for any crisis. For example when Apple’s Taiwanese factories detailed “serious and pressing” concerns over excessive working hours, unpaid overtime, health and safety failings, and management interference in trade unions (Garside, 2012, para. 1). Apple, an organization that has visited the “create” area of the innovation quadrant and reset the computer, mobile, and entertainment industries, was not prepared. They lacked end-to-end insight of their supply chain. They soon issued the following statement:

Apple takes working conditions very seriously and we have for a long time. Our efforts range from protecting to empowering to improving the lives of everyone involved in assembling an Apple product. No one in our industry is doing as much as we are, in as many places, touching as many people as we do (“Apple,” 2012, para. 1).

Like many companies before it, Apple sought to improve performance by taking actions which could be interpreted as both business and social. The Apple-Foxconn incident represents a crisis that led to creating sustainability program. Among many actions of increasing safety and compliance, Apple has their first sustainability report.

 Figure 1: Disruption Continuum illustrates the combination of crisis clusters and growth outcomes an organization has the potential to experience. Larger version in Appendix B.

As shown at the bottom of Figure 1, Coombs and Holladay state that leaders can maintain, gain, or lose customers depending on the changes they implement or the type of errors they commit. For instance, applying the wrong response strategy to a crisis cluster might come from mischaracterizing a Type III problem, responding with a Type I solution, and, as a result, losing products and/or customers. Likewise, a leader who is maintaining the relatively predictable success of veteran products might not notice that the game has changed and that they need to prepare the organization for extending the brand or creating something new.

Various research has been conclusive with regard to the key role of culture in innovation (Ahmed, 1998; Higgins & McAllaster, 2002; Jamrog, Vickers, & Bear, 2006; Jassawalla & Sashittal, 2002; Lao & Ngo, 2004; Martins & Terblanche, 2003; Mumford, 2000). The main reason is that culture can stimulate innovative behavior among the members of an organization since it predisposes them to accept innovation as a basic value of the organization and thus fosters commitment to it (Hartman, 2006). Furthermore, culture and management are closely related. They can either foster change or be serious impediments to it (Boonstra & Vink, 1996). According to Tesluk et al. (1997), from the perspectives of socialization and of co-ordination, the basic elements of culture have a twofold effect on innovation. Through socialization, individuals know whether creative and innovative behaviors are acceptable. At the same time, the business can, through activities, policies and procedures, generate values which support creativity and innovation. If so, its capacity to innovate will subsequently improve.

The downside of implementing change in large, ponderous organizations is well documented (Schein, 1984; Hofstede, 1984, 2001; Brown, 2009). When change of any kind occurs, numerous antibody mechanisms are embedded in the organization that constantly block and thwart the advancement of fundamentally new ideas and sometimes view maverick individuals as too painful to tolerate (O’Connor & McDermott, 2004) or react through preparation (Mitroff & Alpaslan, 2010).

There are some common themes among innovative companies: ambidexterity (management of exploratory and exploitive innovation), customer-centricity (an organization whose systems, people, and processes are aligned to the customer) and above all, the ability to host a learning organization (an organization that can efficiently manage the implementation of experimentation and the synthesis of test results). These elements demand a nimble organization and management of two common emotions that creep up as success increases: fear (about changing what might be working) and complacency (about the need to try anything new).

### Conclusion: What Makes a Culture Innovative?

One of the greatest misunderstandings of our time is the assumption that a brilliant insight will be enough to change the behavior of leaders and organizations who are unmotivated to change. Communication does not depend on eloquence, or whether one can package it in a sexy TED talk, but on the emotional context in which the message is being heard. People can only hear when they are leaning in, when they are ready to be educated—not when they are playing a defense strategy.

When an organization creates a product or service that is well received by the marketplace, they move from Creating (something) to Managing (success). When Microsoft created Windows 95, the leadership was gambling that it would be as accepted as well as it was. They were early Explorers. They took risks. Once successful, their business changed from exploring, to managing the gold. They have managed the gold for almost twenty years. Now Google is Exploring (with services like Google Docs) and Microsoft has to decide if they want to get back into exploring or to continue managing the gold. Microsoft has proven to be one of the single most effective machines in terms of maximizing delivery of revenue in the market. There is almost nobody better in the world at that one skill. But that is no longer the business they are in.

Among all of the principles of innovation and leadership discussed, the primary qualities that help leaders and organizations remain resilient to change are fast, incremental, experimentation of new information and the ability to effectively manage short- and long-term change. For the last twenty years (in particular the last ten), experimentation has not been as important as skillful management. Protection of the gold (increasing share and user penetration) was more important than exploring and learning where the market was headed. But now, those who can explore a fast-changing environment and do it nimbly are winning. There is now a demand for more Explorers.

Much like IBM in the 1990s, Microsoft is at a crossroads where it needs to hear this message of experimentation and openness. They have not utilized that muscle themselves in a long time. Perhaps they could acquire companies that are market leaders (as they did with the original Office Suite), but bringing Explorers to a Guarding culture creates tension. Hierarchy and engaging mechanistically were once effective tools for increasing revenue by predictable means, but they are no longer in that business.

The Explorers are told to guard the gold, and they develop guarding skills to fit in. It is hard for them at first. They are used to being outdoors, negotiating the elements. However, they soon learn that feasting can be fun. They lose their ability and sometimes their will to shoot outside. The Explorers no longer attend informal events. Now they attend events of 10,000 people or more. They opt for scale, pomp, and circumstance. They want to be heard from the farthest mountaintops—preferably in developing countries (to expand their market share). They no longer communicate informally or directly with their users and customers. Everything goes through filters of several layers of management, and back down again, treated for correct use of logos, and prepared for formal agreements no matter how minor the message.

In essence, as they engage (with anyone) they attempt to control as many of the conditions as possible in order to create a predictable outcome. All effort has to have a return on investment. Much like trying to hit a target with a bow and arrow. An Explorer will score more often if she takes six different arrows and six different shots than if she invested in one massive bow and aimed a single massive arrow (like a large product launch in Times Square). If the target is moving, she will probably miss. But if the event is 10,000 people, and the message has to be vetted by fifteen people – she is likely shooting indoors, where there is no wind, and she understands her target. She has as many hours as she needs to aim. This is how Gold Guards shoot.

Explorers who shoot outside where the target is moving, and the wind is blowing, will shoot six arrows. The chances of shooting with the big arrow are gone because the target has moved by the time she figured out where she was going to aim. That is the kind of change happening in today’s world. The pace of business and technology is so rapid, and the short lifespans of companies are passing by so quickly, that leaders no longer have the time to spend hours aiming their arrows meticulously as they once did. With roughly a one in ten[4] chance at sustaining growth, the leader’s probability of aiming off target with a single arrow is high. Google is shooting outdoors. Time will tell if Microsoft will join them.

### Appendix A: Ways To Grow

Ways to Grow Matrix;The relationship between growth intentions and innovation outcomes organizations are seeing. Incremental, evolutionary, and revolutionary outcomes require different approaches and expectations for results (Brown, 2009).

### Appendix B: Operationalization of ICM Model

Operationalization of ICM Model

### Appendix C: Disruption Continuum

Protection-Growth Continuum

### Notes

• [1] A family of computer models is said to be compatible if certain software that runs on one of the models can also be run on all other models of the family. The computer models may differ in performance, reliability or some other characteristic. These differences may affect the outcome of the running of the software.
• [2]Interoperability is the ability of making systems and organizations to work together (inter-operate) for the purposes of information exchange.
• [3] For the purposes of this paper the two categories of change addressed will be referenced as first-order and second-order change.
• [4] Zook & Allen, 2001; Foster & Kaplan, 2011; Jim Collins, 2001; Olson, 2008

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#### Transformational Change Initiatives

Medcab has had a few transformational initiatives over the last five years. Among them are two which are the basis for the case study. Project 1 was a broad process reengineering initiative affecting the entire company from quoting products and services to closing the financial books. The change efforts for this project started in January of 2008 with the introduction of the first set of changes a year later. Two additional years were required to complete the transformation. Although the results of the overall transformation have been positive for the company, the initial results of Project 1 experienced during most of 2009 were challenging by all accounts.  These results correlate to two thirds of all transformational processes that are challenged or fail (Meaney & Pung, 2008).

Project 2 encompassed the development, manufacturing and market availability of eleven new products that transformed the company’s product offering in record-setting time.  This project launched in March of 2010 with the formation of project teams and the direction from the CEO to complete all products by the following May.  Historically, Medcab had difficulty executing multiple products in parallel and the average time for each far exceeded the goal of launching all eleven products in that timeframe.  New development processes and a different method of cross-functional collaboration were needed to accomplish the objectives, both requiring transformation. The outcome of Project 2 was exceptional with all eleven products being launched in May of 2011 with immediate availability. This transformational initiative falls in the one third of the population of successful change initiatives.

#### Participants and Their Qualifications

The case study sponsor was the Vice President of Human Resources at Medcab. She provided the background on the two selected initiatives and others that were considered. The criteria in appendix B were utilized to select the two case studies to compare and contrast via this case study.  Five individuals were identified by the sponsor to participate in the interview process for the case study. They all met the criteria identified in appendix C. This researcher was most particular about the dual membership of the participants: a) they all had to be leaders in both change initiatives and b) be influential in their outcomes. The driver for these requirements was to ensure a common experience and perspective by the case study participants.  Appendix D defines the current roles of the participants at Medcab and their roles in both projects

#### Project Holarchies

Figure 6 shows the governance structure for both projects. In this figure we can see that both initiatives had a three layer leadership structure. For Project 1 the first layer was composed of members of Medcab’s Senior Staff (executive vice presidents) and the functional vice presidents affected by the project’s changes. Their mission was that of oversight.  The second governance layer for this project was the Core Team. It was composed of functional experts at senior manager and director levels with the mission of leading and managing the day-to-day activities of the change initiative. The interview findings observed that not all Medcab functions were represented in the Core Team and that its members had their own specific agendas.

In Project 1, the third layer was comprised of the leaders of each function affected by the initiative. These functional leaders were expected to drive the change for their function. However, there is little evidence that this actually took place. The case study participants indicated that the functional leaders in Project 1 (layer 3) relinquished this responsibility to individual contributors and more junior personnel. In addition, the third layer of Project 1’s governance holarchy did not feel responsible for the change, thus expecting the Core Team to drive the change details and perform the actual work.

Figure 6. The governance holarchy for the transformational change initiatives at Medcab.

In contrast to Project 1, the first governance layer of Project 2 was formed purely with members of Medcab’s executive team, Senior Staff. This governance layer acted coherently and provided the overall governance and direction for the program.  The second layer of Project 2 did not exist until four months before the launch of the eleven new products. Each product team (the third layer) had its own core or management team and reported its progress directly to Senior Staff (first governance layer). As Project 2 proceeded and encountered the unknowns of the functional integration required by the massive product launch, Senior Staff decided to form the Leadership Team, the second layer of the governance structure for Project 2. This team was composed of vice presidents and directors of most functions in the company. The Leadership Team became responsible for the execution of the product launch across all functional disciplines (similar charter to Project 1’s Core Team).

The structure, mission and attitude of the third level in the governance structure for Project 2 were completely different from its counterpart. Instead of the teams at the third layer being composed of individual functions, the Project 2 teams at the third governance level were product oriented, encapsulating the required functional members for each product. The challenge of these teams was their uneven functional representation and the lack of know-how to coordinate a massive product launch.

### Map of Meaning Analysis

From a Map of Meaning holon perspective, the participants provided their insight, which are compiled in appendix E. This appendix shows a summary of the responses from the interview questions arranged by each of the dimensions in the Map of Meaning: Inner Development, Unity with Others, Expressing Full Potential, and Service Others. Table 2 provides a rating for each dimension based on the feedback provided by the participants.

Table 2. Map of Meaning ratings.  The ratings specify: 1 – no evidence of any development during the project; 2 – about 25 percent development; 3 – about 50 percent development; 4 – about 75 percent development; and 5 – full evidence of a developed dimension.

 Map of Meaning Dimension Rating for Project 1 Rating for Project 2 Inner Development 1 3 Unity with Others 2 4 Expressing Full Potential 3 4 Service Others 2 3

Table 2 indicates that participants in Project 1 did not experience any discernible personal growth. In this project, the Core Team and the individual functions could not form a coherent whole. Individuals kept to their agendas and their own ideas. Learning was limited to technical matters and not to the subject of how to work together for a common goal. Project 2 shows that individuals changed and embraced the demands of their role. The inclusion of the Leadership Team (layer 2) by Senior Staff infused the sense of responsibility across the board. Members of all teams in the holarchy connected with their own sense of purpose and became aware of their impact.

In the Unity with Others dimension, Project 1 also shows a low score. This came from the interview questionnaire data that pointed to a set of individuals who recognized the importance of the project but could not leave their own ideas and their functional membership behind to come together as a cohesive collective. The leadership team in Project 1 could not agree on any shared values and belonging to the team was not viewed as important, particularly by the third layer of the holarchy. In contrast, Project 2 shows a higher score for the Unity with Others dimension. As previously stated, all layers for this project came together with a common purpose and developed the shared value of accountability. No one wanted to let others down, particularly with Senior Staff and the CEO fully engaged. The unity exhibited by the holarchy in Project 2 appeared to be one of purpose and not of identity.

Both projects received medium to high scores in the Expressing Full Potential dimension of the Map of Meaning. Medcab, being a high-tech company, focusing on deliverables rather than relationships is natural for the company. Project 2 obtained a slightly higher score than Project 1 for this dimension. As all of the interviewees noted, developing products is in Medcab’s DNA.  In contrast, several of the interviewees observed that process reengineering, the main objective of Project 1, did not come naturally.

The final dimension of the Map of Meaning is Service Others. This is a dimension that goes outside of the company and positions the organization to work for the greater good. Neither change initiative in the case study had elements of going outside the company. Project 1 was an inwardly focused project while Project 2, at its core, had the objective of revamping the company’s product offering. In the rating, Project 2 received a slightly higher score because there was thought about the impact to others and how the new products could positively affect the lives of Medcab’s customers and their customers. In Project 1 team members were aware of the company’s greater good and could see it in the horizon. However, they were not able to translate this greater benefit in terms of their own engagement.

### Leadership Stage Development Analysis

A set of the questions for the participants in the case study aimed at uncovering what leadership stages, as defined by Torbert and his colleagues, were present in the leadership teams of the two transformational initiatives (Torbert & Associates, 2004; Rooke & Torbert, 2005). Only four of the seven leadership stages were being investigated in this case study. It is the opinion of this researcher that the characteristics of the Opportunist and Diplomat do not map to roles that would be imperative in a transformational leadership team.  The presence of the Alchemist was also excluded given that this stage of leadership is present in only one percent of leaders and the likelihood that an Alchemist was present in the Medcab initiatives and could be recognized as such was low. The actions of an alchemist would most likely be interpreted as an Individualist or Strategist (Torbert & Associates, 2004).

Table 3 shows the results of the answers about leadership stages provided by the Medcab participants (see Appendix F for a summary of the answers).  From these answers, it is clear that Project 1 did not have all of the Experts available during the project. This feedback by the participants was unanimous. The lack of critical expertise in this initiative was evident in both the internal resources and the consultants that were engaged in Project 1. In contrast, Project 2 included all of the experts necessary to achieve its objectives. As mentioned earlier, the company has deep expertise in product development and felt comfortable in stretching to improve its ability to handle parallel product development and in improving its time to market cycle time.

Table 3. Presence or absence of the leadership stages for each transformational initiative at Medcab. This table provides a rating of the findings for the leadership stages for each initiative. A rating of 1 indicates the total absence of the leadership stage characteristics based on the input provided by the participants to the questions related to each stage. A rating of 2 specifies about a 25 percent presence of the leadership stage. A 3 in the rating columns indicate about 50 percent presence, while a 4 corresponds to 75 percent. A rating of 5 states that full presence (100 percent) of the leadership stage was determined during the interviews.

 Leadership Stage Rating for Project 1 Rating for Project 2 Experts 2 5 Achievers 3 5 Individualists (Architects) 1 3 Strategists 3 4

Table 3 shows that Project 1 did have enough Achievers to drive the project to completion. However, these Achievers were not able to create a common understanding of the priorities and drivers for the project. Further, several of the interviewees stated that people in the project believed that the dates in the project were not real and that they could slip.  Project 2 had a markedly different Achiever result. The head Achiever in the project was the CEO. He made clear that everyone knew what was at stake and what needed to be done and by when. There were no doubts from the leadership team on what was expected.

The characteristics of the Individualist are harder to pin down in a set of questions. For instance, how do people understand and recognize relativism? To clarify matters, this researcher encapsulated the traits of an Individualist in the role of a solutions architect. This type of individual exemplifies the attributes of an Individualist leader. A solutions architect has to be able to consider multiple points of view, be consultative, approach situations systematically and be able to bring everyone together in a cohesive approach. This type of role has to be able to see the goodness and the risks in the views of others without alienating anyone.

From the interview responses, it became clear that Project 1 did not have a solutions architect. No one in the leadership team could see the big picture or could assemble the necessary details to articulate a path for everyone. Consequently, Project 1 experienced multiple paths, multiple solutions and a fair amount of controversy.  The results of Project 1 were deeply impacted by the lack of this leadership stage.

Using the same line of inquiry, the researcher was able to uncover that Project 2 did not have an architect to bring the multi-product launch together either.  When Senior Staff created the missing second layer with the Leadership Team, it was this team that was able to architect the global launch solution. There was not a single architect but a number of them collaborating in an achievable solution.

From the Strategist stage perspective, both projects had vision and strategies that were communicated and maintained throughout their execution. Project 1 was more complicated than Project 2 and required the translation of the strategy into digestible chunks. Many of the Project 1 participants got lost in the details and could not relate to the overall strategy. Several of the case study participants stated that at least half of the people did not know what they and their functions were getting out of the project.  In Project 2, the subject matter was known to all participants. The vision and strategy of this initiative was communicated by the CEO and his Senior Staff often. Interviewees commented that everyone was on board and that there were no doubts in everyone’s mind as to what was at stake. From the responses of the case study questionnaire, both projects missed understanding the needs of the people in the projects. This lack of understanding was deeper in Project 1, but the Project 2 leaders did not see the level of stress that the team members were under. One of the comments was that at times Project 2 felt like being at the dentist: “you know it is good for you but you can’t wait for it to be over.”

### Conclusion

This research aimed at answering two questions: a) how leadership stage development correlates to the success of transformational change initiatives, and b) how the make-up of a change leadership team affects outcome in the absence of leadership stage development awareness. The case study at Medcab dealt with two transformational initiatives with different outcomes.  Project 1 and 2 at Medcab shared key similarities including their importance to the company, proper funding and support from their executive team. As explored in the analysis sections of this document, the projects were dissimilar in their Map of Meaning and their leadership stages. These two lenses were used in the case study to address the questions posed by the research.

Using Figure 4 as a reference, Project 1’s Map of Meaning shows a weak Being dimension. Both, the Inner Development and Unity with Others quadrants received low ratings based on the answers from the participants. This overall weakness manifested into low awareness, individual agendas, inability to come together, minimal to no ability to grow, and limited learning. In particular, Project 1 had a low score in the Inner Development quadrant. This prevented this initiative from developing an identity that team members could relate to and to which they wanted to belong. The dimension of Doing in Project 1’s Map of Meaning showed some strength, particularly in the Expressing Full Potential quadrant. This strength enabled the project to develop its work products and complete them by a given due date. As documented in the analysis section, the work products and team readiness for this initiative had issues that resulted in major challenges right after the new system and processes went into effect.

From the leadership stages perspective, Project 1 did not have all of the Experts it needed. It appears that it had enough Achievers but they were not effective in convincing team members what to accomplish and by when. This difficulty could have been rooted in the company’s culture but it appears that Achievers in the leadership team were not collaborating or aiming for the same goals. It was noted in the analysis that Individualists as incarnated in one or more solutions architect were totally absent from Project 1. This void prevented this initiative from having a holistic solution that drove work products and team engagement. Finally, there is evidence of the presence of Strategists in Project 1 from the established vision and the overall strategy for this initiative. However, this leadership stage was not able to create a cohesive collective.

Integrating the Map of Meaning and leadership stage lenses, we can conclude that the development of the Being dimension in Project 1 was affected by the absence of the Individualist stage and by the ineffectiveness of the Strategists on the team to create a cohesive collective. The Doing dimension for this initiative was more developed due to the availability of some Experts and a number of Achievers. This allowed Project 1 to deliver work products but with limited completeness and accuracy. This was due to the emphasis in the Individual dimension of the Map of Meaning over the Collective. The fact that the leadership team for this initiative could not get its Collective dimension engaged, ultimately translated into the diminished capabilities of the new system and processes being put in place.

The Map of Meaning ratings in Table 2 shows a stronger set of Being and Doing dimensions for Project 2. This is also true for the Individual and Collective dimensions of this holon. This indicates that the leadership team in this initiative had a strong sense of identity, was able to accomplish results and could work well with others. The rating of 3 for the Inner Development quadrant corresponds to a team that had enough awareness to guide its own course and learn as it went along. The strong rating of 4 associated with the Unity with Others quadrant reflects a team that was effective, shared common values, and could pursue unified goals. On the Doing dimension of the Map of Meaning, Project 2 shows a strong Expressing Full Potential quadrant that correlates to solid execution, complete and accurate work products, and active management of risks. As stated in the analysis, this initiative along with Project 1 did not score high in the Service Others quadrant given their technical scopes. However, Project 2 had enough collective awareness of the each individual’s impact to the whole to score higher than its project counterpart in the case study.

From the leadership stage perspective and as noted in the analysis, Project 2 had all of the Experts it needed. This supply of expertise came from all three layers of the leadership holarchy, but, primarily the second layer. The abundance of Experts made the deliverables of Project 2 completely realizable. The Achiever stage was also well represented in this initiative starting with the Medcab CEO who participated in the daily leadership meetings. This translated into a fast paced execution with well-defined milestones. Even though the Individualist level in Project 2 was not manifested into identifiable solutions architects, the members of layer 2 of the holarchy provided the Individualist action logic aplenty. The results of this abundant Individualist energy were complete solutions, a fair amount of introspection and overwhelming critique for everyone’s work. The last leadership stage investigated in the case study, the Strategist, was well personified in the senior team members of Project 2. Vision and strategy were well defined, communicated and globally accepted.

Looking into the intersection of the Map of Meaning and the leadership stage development lenses, we can conclude that the Experts and Achievers in Project 2 provided a strong backbone for the Doing dimension of the Map of Meaning. Similarly, the team-oriented version of the Individualist stage and the effective Strategists in this project gave way to a solid Being dimension of the holon. The Individualist energy supported the development of Inner Development quadrant while the Strategist level created the environment for effective collective activities.

On the first question of the research, we can conclude that the stage development as analyzed through the Map of Meaning and leadership stage lenses affected the outcome of both initiatives. Project 1 had missing leadership stages and underdeveloped Map of Meaning quadrants both limiting how much this initiative accomplished and how challenged was its output. In contrast, Project 2 did not have any missing leadership stages and showed strength across three of the Map of Meaning quadrants. This initiative was successful and met all of its objectives.

On the second question of the research, we can also conclude that the leadership team make-up impacted the outcome of the initiatives. Medcab did not have any awareness of leadership stages prior to this case study. The assembly of the leadership teams for both projects followed criteria that did not consciously include all leadership stages. Project 1 suffered the effects of missing Experts and the absence of Individualists. On the other hand, Project 2 had the benefit of the Medcab Senior Staff forming layer two of its team holarchy with a highly qualified Leadership Team. This new leadership layer came together only in the last four months prior to product launch but was able to guide the project to success. It appears that all of the leadership stages in Project 2 became present through the combination of the Leadership Team members and Senior Staff.

This research opens the door to further investigation on how to assemble transformational team holarchies that have the best chances for success. Future research could focus on practical mechanisms to identify the leadership stages of potential leaders in a transformational team. Additionally, this research did not provide any guidance on the number or roles of the leaders at the various leadership stages. It is easy to conceive that Experts in all of the domains for a given scope would be required in a leadership team. However, what is the right number of Achievers and what should their roles be? This and other important questions could guide additional research on a topic that promises improving the outcome of transformational changes to a number greater than one in three.

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• Lichtenstein, B. M. (1997). Grace, magic and miracles: A “chaotic logic” of organizational transformation. Journal of Organizational Change Management10(5), 393-411.
• Lips-Wiersma, M. & Morris, L. (2011). The map of meaning: A guide to sustaining our humanity in the world of work. Sheffield, UK: Greenleaf.
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• Mezirow, J. (2000), Learning to think like an adult: Core concepts of adult learning theory. In Mezirow, J. (Ed.), Learning as transformation: Critical perspectives on a theory in progress, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA.
• Mezirow, J., Taylor, E. W., & Associates. (2009). Transformative learning in practice: Insights from community, workplace, and higher education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
• Nailon, D., Delahaye, B. & Brownlee, J. (2007). Learning and leading: How beliefs about learning can be used to promote effective leadership. Development and Learning in Organizations, 21 (4), 6-9.
• Pandey, A., & Gupta, R. K. (2007). A perspective of collective consciousness of business organizations. Journal of Business Ethics80, 889-898.
• Pruzan, P. (2001). The question of organizational consciousness: Can organizations have values, virtues and visions? Journal of Business Ethics29(3), 271-284.
• Rooke, D. & Torbert, W. R. (1998). Organizational transformation as a function of CEO’s developmental stage. Organization Development Journal16(1), 11-28.
• Rooke, D. & Torbert, W. R. (2005). Seven transformations of leadership. Harvard Business ReviewApril, 1-12.
• Sarros, J. C., Cooper, B. K. & Santora, J. C. (2008). Building a climate for innovation through transformational leadership and organizational culture. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 15 (2), 145-158.
• Schein, E. H. (2010). Organizational culture and leadership: Vol. The Jossey-Bass business & management series ; (4th ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
• Senge, P. (1990). The fifth discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization. New York: Doubleday.
• Simcox, J. (2005). Detailed descriptions of the developmental stages or action logics of the leadership development framework. Presented at the W. Edwards Deming Research Institute, Eleventh Annual Research Seminar, Fordham University Graduate Business School, Lincoln Center, New York City.
• Torbert, B. & Associates. (2004). Action inquiry: The secret of timely and transforming leadership. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler.
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### Appendix A – Interview Questions

The following are the questions which were asked to each participant during the one hour interviews along with the estimated duration for each question group:

Participant qualifications (5 minutes)

• What is your role with the organization and how long have you been in this role?
• How do you define transformational change and what makes it be successful?
• Where do you see you can contribute the most in a transformational initiative and why?
• As a leader, what personal attributes do you bring to your organization?

Transformational project characteristics (30 minutes) – The questions in this group were asked to the research sponsor and only two of the other participants.

• At a high level, describe the scope of the two transformational initiatives in the study in terms of locations, functions, processes, systems and organizations.
• Were the targeted transformations successful; why or why not?
• What interventions were required to accomplish the goals of the initiatives, where did they come from, and how were they applied?

Context of your involvement (10 minutes) – The questions in this group were asked for each initiative.

• Describe your role in the change initiative.
• What are your main observations in how the organization approached its transformational change?

Project leadership structure (30 minutes) – The questions in this group were asked to the research sponsor and two of the participants for each of the initiatives.

• Governance lens: Describe the leadership team organization for the transformational initiative. Specify the governance layers. Do you know how the team members of this leadership team were selected? What was missing from this structure?
• Ecological lens: How was the interaction between the layers of the leadership team? How did the leadership team interact with the company’s functional and executive leaders? What are the high-lights and low-lights of the leadership team interaction with its environment?
• Learning lens: How did the leadership team learned? Was there a concerted effort by the team to learn and if so, how did this happen? What are the main things the team learned? What did the team missed learning?

Leadership characteristics in the transformational project (45 minutes) – The questions in this group were asked for each transformational initiative.

• Inner self-development: What were the driving forces for the leadership team to accomplish the goals of the initiative? What level of awareness did the leadership team have on the needs of its constituencies? How were decisions made by the leadership team? What was the balance between the needs of the project and the needs of the team members?
• Unity with others: What did the leadership team value the most from its team members? How did the leadership team relate to “others” in the organization? How were opinions and ideas from different levels of the organization handled? Did the leadership team create a sense of community and if so how?
• Expressing full potential: How did the leadership team manage its objectives? What work standards did the leadership team held itself and others to? How did the leadership team deal with the “low” points during the project? Were there higher level company goals the leadership team felt connected to?
• Service others: What kind of responsibility did the leadership team feel it had with the global organization? What was the leadership team’s view of the systems and processes in the transformational project? To what extend did this team work to integrate their work products with the rest of the company’s and externally?
• Leader stage development: How was the leadership team staffed to have all the experts it needed to accomplish its objectives? Who created the sense of urgency for the initiative and were these individuals effective? Did the leadership team have one or more individuals identifying potential risks? Was their early warning accepted and useful? Who provided the overall strategy for the initiative and guided its journey? What was effective from these individuals and what was not?

### Appendix B – Characteristics of Transformational Projects

The following set of characteristics was used in determining the level of transformational change involved in the projects that were assessed as part of the participant interviews. These characteristics are based on the transformational change definitions from Burke (2011), Doppelt (2003), and Kotter (2006).

1. Results in transformation of the organizational culture
2. Introduces fundamental change in the organization’s strategy
3. Results in significant changes in processes and systems
4. Affects organization as a whole or a significant portion
5. Change is introduced over a considerable period of time (> 2 years)
6. Requires large investment of people and physical resources
7. Benefits of change are significant
8. Consequence of failing with the change could be disastrous
9. Outside expertise is required to accomplish the change
10. Major developmental opportunity for the organization’s leaders

### Appendix C – Participant Criteria

The following is the criteria provided to the research sponsor to facilitate the selection of the participants:

1. Senior role in the organization
2. Member of both of the transformational change initiatives. Alternatively, member of one of the initiatives.
3. Held a leadership role in the change initiative(s) at level one or two of the leadership team holarchy.
4. Individual is known for being insightful and can effectively communicate organizational experiences.

### Appendix D – Participant Organizational and Change Initiative Roles

Current roles and roles in the transformational initiatives for the five participants in the case study.

 Current Role Project 1 Role Project 2 Role Person 1 CFO Project Sponsor and Steering Committee Member Sr. Staff Member Person 2 Executive Vice President, Field Operations Steering Committee Member Sr. Staff Member Person 3 Sr. Director, Information Technology (IT) Program Director IT Leader on Leadership Team Person 4 Sr. Director, Field Operations Field Operations Leader Field Operations Leader on Leadership Team Person 5 Sr. Manager, Cost Accounting Program Management Office, Finance Finance Leader on Leadership Team

### Appendix E – Map of Meaning Interview Summary

Map of Meaning summarization for the transformational change initiatives at Medcab along with the rating of how developed each dimension appears to be based on the input provided by the participants.  The ratings specify: 1 – no evidence of any development during the project; 2 – about 25 percent development; 3 – about 50 percent development; 4 – about 75 percent development; and 5 – full evidence of a developed dimension.

### Appendix F – Leadership Stage Development Interview Summary

Presence or absence of the leadership stages for each transformational initiative at Medcab.  This table provides a summary of the findings for the leadership stages for each initiative along with a rating.  A rating of 1 indicates the total absence of the leadership stage characteristics based on the input provided by the participants to the questions related to each stage.  A rating of 2 specifies about a 25 percent presence of the leadership stage.  A 3 in the rating columns indicate about 50 percent presence, while a 4 corresponds to 75 percent.  A rating of 5 states that full presence (100 percent) of the leadership stage was determined during the interviews.

### About the Author

Jorge Taborga  is the Vice President of Manufacturing, Quality and IT at Omnicell, Inc.  He has an extensive background in change leadership, product development, management consulting, process reengineering and information technology.  His 29 year work experience includes companies like ROLM Systems, IBM, Quantum, Bay Networks, 3Com, and UTStarcom.  Jorge also delivered organizational development and management consulting services to a number of companies in the San Francisco Bay Area and China.  He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Organizational Systems at Saybrook University.

# Learner Paper: Complexity Leadership

Learner Papers

### Complexity Leadership: An Overview and Key Limitations

Barrett C. Briown

### Abstract

An overview of the complexity leadership literature is provided. This includes a history of complexity theory and its core concepts, the central propositions of complexity leadership, a review of six prominent frameworks, and a summary of practitioner guidelines. The article also discusses two key limitations to complexity theory: the need to supplement it with other epistemologies and leadership approaches, and the importance of recognizing that its sustained execution likely requires a developmentally mature meaning-making system. The conclusion is that complexity leadership offers a fresh and important way of perceiving and engaging in the management of complex organizational behavior, one which may help leaders to address the most pressing and complex social, economic, and environmental challenges faced globally today.

Complexity leadership was introduced by Marion and Uhl-Bien (2001). It is based upon the application of complexity theory to the study of organizational behavior and the practice of leadership. In the 1990s, researchers drew from complexity theory studies in physics, chemistry, biology, and computer science to cultivate novel insights about their fields. Such research was initially focused on the social sciences in general (Goldstein, 1995; Marion, 1999; Nowak, May, & Sigmund, 1995), but soon thereafter complexity theory was applied to organizational processes (Anderson, 1999; McKelvey, 1997).

This article offers an overview of the complexity leadership literature. To understand complexity leadership requires knowledge of the fundamentals of complexity theory. The first section of this article briefly describes the history and lineage of complexity theory and defines some of the important concepts from it that are applied in the field of complexity leadership. This if followed by a summary of the core concepts of complexity leadership and a review of six complexity leadership frameworks. The article continues with an overview of guidelines for putting complexity leadership theory into practice, and concludes with a discussion of two key limitations to its application.

### Complexity Theory

The science of complexity theory concerns the study of complexly interacting systems (Marion & Uhl-Bien, 2001). Complexity theory has been defined the “study of behaviour of large collections of…simple, interacting units, endowed with the potential to evolve with time” (Coveney, 2003). While the entire theory is more complex than this, this definition is useful as it encompasses three fundamental characteristics of complex systems: they involve interacting units, are dynamic, and are adaptive. In essence, complexity theory is about (1) the interaction dynamics amongst multiple, networked agents, and (2) how emergent events – such as creativity, learning, or adaptability – arise from these interactions (Marion, 2008).

Complexity theorists inquire into how such systems engage with each other, adapt, and influence things like emergence, innovation, and fitness (Marion & Uhl-Bien, 2001). Complexity theory developed out of myriad sources, many of which arose during World War II. However, nine main, interrelated research strands form the lineage of its contemporary expression. Each of these traditions offers core constructs that are essential to the overall theory. Systems thinking offers the concepts of boundaries and positive and negative feedback loops. Theoretical biology frames organizations as organic, evolving, whole systems. Nonlinear dynamical systems theorydeveloped the notions of attractors, bifurcation, and chaos. Connectivity and networks were developed in the purely mathematical field of graph theoryComplex adaptive systems theorycontributes the idea of evolving, adapting systems of interacting agents. Finally, the concept of emergence of novel order arose across through work on several fields/constructs: phase transition, Turing’s morphogenetic model, synergetics, and far-from-equilibrium thermodynamics(Goldstein, 2008).

A full review of complexity theory is beyond the scope of this article, but the following key concepts are explained below, as they are instrumental for understanding complexity leadership: complex vs. complicated; characteristics of a complex system; interaction; dynamic; adaptation; mechanisms; self-organized criticality; dissipative structures; emergence; and complex adaptive systems.[1]

### Complex vs. Complicated

In the complexity sciences, the term “complex” does not mean the same as “complicated.” A system is complicated if each of its individual components or constituents can be described (even if there is a huge number of them). For example, computers or jumbo jets are complicated systems. A system is complex if its relationships cannot be explained fully by merely analyzing its components because they are dynamic and changing. The brain, for example, is a complex system (Cilliers, 1998 cited in Uhl-Bien & Marion, 2009). The term complexity is meant to impart the sense of deep interconnectedness and dynamic interaction that results in emergence within and across complex adaptive systems (described below). Complexity generates novel features, often called emergent properties. Other examples of complex systems that generate emergent properties due to being richly interactive, nonlinearly dynamic, and unpredictable are the Brazilian rainforest, natural language, and social systems (Cilliers, 1998; Snowden & Boone, 2007; Uhl-Bien & Marion, 2009).

### Characteristics of a Complex System (Snowden & Boone, 2007)

Complex systems incorporate myriad interacting elements. The interactions between these elements are nonlinear and minor changes can cascade into large-scale consequences. Such systems are dynamic, with a whole greater than the sum of its parts. It is not possible to impose solutions or order upon them; rather, such novel forms arise from the circumstances within them (called emergence – discussed below). The elements of complex systems evolve with one another, integrating their past with the present, and their evolution is irreversible. Due to the constant fluctuations and changes of external conditions and connected systems, complex systems are not predictable, although they may seem ordered and predictable in retrospect. As such, no forecasting or prediction of their behavior can be made. This is due to the fact that individual elements and the system itself constrain one another over time. Such mutually constraining behavior is different than in ordered systems in which the system constrains the elements, or in chaotic systems which have no constraints.

### Interaction

Complexity theorists study the “patterns of dynamic mechanisms that emerge from the adaptive interactions of many agents” (Marion, 2008, p. 5). When sentient agents (like humans in an organization) interact, they change due to the influence of relationships, interdependent behaviors, and the emergence of subsets of agents that engage one another interdependently. The structures, dynamic behaviors, and patterns that arise from these complex interactions become unrecognizable when perceived as linear combinations of the initial actors. These interactive behaviors and outcomes ultimately create feedback loops with each other, leading to effects becoming causes and influence arising from extensive chains of effect.

### Dynamic

Complexity does not refer to static events. Rather, it concerns a dynamic process that consistently changes its elements and brings forth new things in a process called emergence (described below). While there is global stability and resilience within complex systems and complex behavior, they are fundamentally defined by change.

Adaptation refers to a complex system’s ability to strategically change or adjust in response to individual or systemic pressures. Adaptation arises at two levels, the individual and the aggregate. Individual adaptation concerns local stimuli and individual preferences. Individual adaptations amongst agents in a system can interact with each other, resulting in compromises that simultaneously serve the individual and the collective, thus forming aggregate adaptation.

### Mechanisms

In general, mechanisms are processes that result in given outcomes (Hëdstrom & Swedberg, 1998, as cited in Marion, 2008). There are certain, universal mechanisms that drive complex dynamics. When change occurs, it is these mechanisms at work. Complex mechanisms are emergent behavior patterns, universally available, that enable a dynamic mix of causal chains and agents. An aspect of complexity theory is to identify and describe complex mechanisms and the patterns that arise from their interaction. There are four key complex mechanisms. First,correlation arises through the interaction of agents as they share part of themselves (technically called their “resonance”, but loosely can be understood as their worldview, assumptions, beliefs, preferences, etc.). Correlation brings about bonding and aggregation, which is the second mechanism. Aggregation represents the clustering of multiple agents due to the development of shared or interdependent resonances. Autocatalytic mechanisms are the third type. These are emergent structures and beliefs that catalyze or accelerate other mechanisms. For example, deviant behavior like looting can be autocatalyzed by rioting behavior. The fourth key mechanism is nonlinear emergence. This mechanism is experienced as a sudden shift in dynamic states. An extreme example is the demise of the Soviet Union; another would be the transition of water from liquid to solid. Emergence will be further discussed below.

### Self-Organized Criticality

Self-organized criticality (Bak & Tang, 1989; Kan & Bak, 1991) and far-from-equilibrium dissipation (Prigogine, 1997) are two causative mechanisms that lead to nonlinear emergence. Self-organized criticality refers to instances in which a minor event can lead to chaos, driving large interactive systems to a critical state (Kan & Bak, 1991). Within complex, interacting systems of many agents, it represents sudden, unexpected shifts in structure or behavior. These emergent shifts are not “caused”, but rather happen due to the dynamic, random movements within complex systems. They occur as these complex systems are randomly exploring and come within range of – and “fall” into – a complex attractor. Dramatic shifts in the stock market or the onset of looting in riots are examples of these attractors that draw in systems that come close enough to their basins of attraction. Criticality cannot be influenced by external agents, such as leaders or environmental pressures.

### Dissipative Structures

Dissipative structures are the order that emerges from the dissipation of energy. Typically, dissipation refers to the entropy and deterioration of order that results with the release of energy. The creation of order is normally associated with increased energy. Prigogine (1997), however identified dissipative structures that do not result in deterioration, but an increase in order with the release of energy. An example is when oil is heated slowly. For some time it demonstrates little change (no new order). Once the oil reaches what Prigogine (1997) called a “far-from-equilibrium” point – in which the energy builds to an unstable level – the oil molecules release energy, break the tension, and shift into a gentle boiling roll. As opposed to criticality, dissipative structures can be influenced by external agents, like leaders and environmental pressures.

### Emergence

Emergence is “a sudden, unpredictable change event produced by the actions of mechanisms” (Marion, 2008, p. 9). It is a type of naturally occurring change and subsequent stabilization into a new order that is “free” – meaning that it does not require external energy to happen. It can result in dissipative structures. When complex systems are dynamically interacting, they often generate many low-intensity emergent changes; occasionally they experience a high-intensity change. These changes are different than those which arise through steady, step-by-step trajectories from known beginnings through predictable outcomes. Emergence arises through interaction and energic pressure as opposed to the actions of any lone individual. It is the dynamic actions of mechanisms that generate it, rather than the constant, predictable effect of variables.

### Complex Adaptive Systems

The complex adaptive system (CAS) is a very important element in both complexity science and complexity leadership theory. It is the basic unit of analysis in both. According to two prominent researchers (Uhl-Bien & Marion, 2009, p. 631), complexity leadership is about leadership “inand of complex adaptive systems, or CAS” (Cilliers, 1998; Holland, 1995; Langston, 1986; Marion, 1999). CAS are open, evolutionary aggregates – neural-like networks – of interacting, interdependent agents who are cooperatively bonded by a common goal, purpose, or outlook (Cilliers, 1998; Holland, 1995; Langston, 1986; Marion, 1999; Uhl-Bien, Marion, & McKelvey, 2007). Arising naturally in social systems, CAS learn and adapt rapidly and are capable of creative problem solving (Carley & Hill, 2001; Carley & Lee, 1998; Goodwin, 1994; Levy, 1992; as cited in Uhl-Bien, et al., 2007). Complexity theorists essentially frame organizations as complex adaptive systems that are composed of heterogeneous agents that interact and affect each other, and in the process generate novel behavior for the whole system (Marion & Uhl-Bien, 2001).

With this review of the key concepts in complexity theory, I now turn to a review of some of the key findings and theoretical constructs arising from the research of leadership through the lens of complexity sciences.

## Complexity Leadership: An Overview of Core Concepts and Frameworks

The field of studying leadership through the perspective of complexity is young (Panzar, 2009). Nonetheless, over the past decade, a group of researchers have focused on reframing and advancing the field of leadership through the use of the complexity sciences (Goldstein, Hazy, & Lichtenstein, 2010; Hazy, Goldstein, & Lichtenstein, 2007; Lichtenstein & Plowman, 2009; Lichtenstein, et al., 2006; Marion & Uhl-Bien, 2001; McKelvey, 2008; McMillan, 2008; Plowman & Duchon, 2008; Stacey, 1996, 2007, 2010; Stacey, Griffm, & Shaw, 2000; Uhl-Bien & Marion, 2008). This section will provide additional historical context, review some of key insights of the field and briefly present six prominent frameworks by these researchers.

Complexity leadership theory emerged in response to perceived limitations in existing leadership theory. Much leadership theory is based in a bureaucratic framework representational of the industrial age in which it was developed. This includes the assumption that goals are rationally conceived and that the achievement of these goals should be done through structured managerial practices. As a result, much of leadership theory focuses on how leaders, amidst formal and hierarchical organizational structures, can better influence others toward desired goals. The core issues within such a leadership paradigm have then become motivating workers regarding task objectives, ensuring their efficient and effective production, and inspiring their commitment and alignment to organizational objectives (Bass & Riggio, 2006; Zaccaro & Klimoski, 2001, as cited in Uhl-Bien, et al., 2007).

Fundamentally, there is a core drive toward top-down alignment and control in this model. The traditional bureaucratic mindset that has developed as a result of this paradigm has demonstrated limited effectiveness with the rise of the Knowledge Era and the complexities of the modern world (Lichtenstein, et al., 2006). The Knowledge Era is characterized by the forces of globalization, technology, deregulation and democratization collectively creating a new competitive landscape. In such an environment, learning and innovation are vital for competitive advantage (Halal & Taylor, 1999; Prusak, 1996, as cited in Uhl-Bien, et al., 2007), and control is arguably not possible or sustainable. Complexity leadership is proposed as a framework for leadership in the fast-paced, volatile, and uncertain context of the Knowledge Era (Marion & Uhl-Bien, 2001). It is, its various proponents contend, a needed upgrade to leadership theory to reflect our shift out of the Industrial Era (Uhl-Bien, et al., 2007).

Rather than focusing on top-down control and alignment, complexity leadership theorists argue that leaders should temper their attempts to control organizations and futures and instead focus on developing their ability to influence organizational behavior so as to increase the chances of productive futures (Marion & Uhl-Bien, 2001). The fundamental concept underlying complexity leadership is that, under conditions of knowledge production, informal network dynamics should be enabled – and not suppressed or aligned (Uhl-Bien, et al., 2007). Marion and Uhl-Bien (2001) contend that leadership success is not dependent upon the charisma, strategic insight, or individual power of any given leader. Rather, it is attributable to the capacity of the organization to be productive in mostly unknown, future states. Leaders must therefore foster the conditions that develop that organizational capacity, focusing on understanding the patterns of complexity and manipulating the situations of complexity more than results. Specific recommendations are discussed below for how to do this. In a broad sense, though, leaders should create the conditions for bottom-up dynamics, leave the system essentially alone so that it can generate positive emergence, and provide some basic control to keep the system focused (i.e., broader goals and a vision) (Marion & Uhl-Bien, 2001).

Lewin and Regine (2003, as cited in Panzar, 2009) agree with this overall description of the new type of leadership required. For them, leaders need to move beyond setting an organizational vision and mobilizing around it. Successful long-term strategies are those that emerge from the continuous, complex interactions among people. As a result, leaders need to stop trying to control individual outcomes and instead shift their focus to the interactions with the intention to create the healthy conditions for people to self-organize around relevant issues. To do this requires leaders to change their perspective to see the organization as a complex adaptive system that unfolds, fluctuates and emerges. This shifts a leader’s attention from trying to direct people to serving the flourishing of dynamic interactions within the organization.

Complexity leadership has been approached from a variety of directions. Table 1, reproduced from Panzar (2009), offers a distillation  and comparison of six important frameworks for studying and understanding leadership within a complexity worldview. Table 1 is followed by a brief overview of each framework.

Table 1: Complexity Leadership Contributions (Reprinted from Panzar, 2009, p. 41)

MacIntosh and MacLean (1999) developed one of the first frameworks for organizational transformation based upon complexity sciences, specifically grounded in the concept of dissipative structures. They describe a specific, three-stage sequence of activities that support effective transformation. First, the organization articulates and reconfigures the rules that underpin its deep structure, thereby “conditioning” the outcome of the transformation process. Second, steps are taken to shift the organization from its current equilibrium. Third, the organization moves into a period where the dominant focus of management attention is on positive and negative feedback loops. Their contention is that this management of the organization’s deep structure enables influence over the otherwise unpredictable self-organizing processes.

Hazy’s (2005, 2007) framework for organizational change is grounded in complexity theory as well as other disciplines. His approach is process-focused as opposed to MacIntosh and MacLean’s (1999) leadership focus (Panzar, 2009). Hazy strove to identify the general principles that relate the organizational process of leadership with an organization’s sustaining social processes. Organizational leadership in this case is framed as a meta-capability that modifies or extrapolates the system’s other capabilities. Hazy explicitly inquired into how such a meta-capability operates within a social system and its potential impact on performance and adaptation through various environmental changes. By using system dynamics modeling, he found that different patterns of leadership – either transactional or transformational – did emerge depending on the environment. Out of this research, Hazy developed a leadership and capabilities model able to test hypotheses about leadership and the relationships between it and the organization’s social processes (cf. Goldstein, et al., 2010; e.g., Hazy, 2008). He has also used this framework to measure leadership effectiveness within complex socio-technical systems (Hazy, 2006).

A third framework called adaptive leadership was developed by a group of prominent complexity leadership researchers (Lichtenstein, et al., 2006). With this framework, they shift the traditional focus from that of leaders operating in isolation to influence their followers to that of being fundamentally interactive in nature. Leadership from this perspective therefore emerges out of interactions and events, out of the interactive spaces between people and ideas. Leadership from this adaptive perspective is framed as a complex dynamic process transcending individual capacities, drawing from the interaction, tension, and rules that govern changes in perception and understanding. Each leadership event is an action segment whose meaning is derived from the dynamic interactions of those who produced it. These researchers also developed a methodology analyze these leadership events.

Hazy has collaborated with Lichtenstein and Goldstein to write two mainstream leadership books that flesh out the concept of generative leadership and its application (Goldstein, et al., 2010; Hazy, et al., 2007). In their latest book (Goldstein, et al., 2010), they introduce the term “ecologies of innovation” to reflect the system-wide set of processes and interactions within complex adaptive systems that foster innovation. They then build upon ecological and complexity sciences to show how leadership can cultivate these ecologies of innovation.

CLT, then, is a framework for studying emergent leadership dynamics – via three types of leadership – as they relate to bureaucratic superstructures. It proposes that properly functioning CAS generate an adaptive capability for an organization while bureaucracy provides a coordinating and orienting structure. The central challenge of complexity leadership is to effectively manage the entanglement between the administrative and adaptive structures and behaviors, so as to ensure optimum organizational flexibility and effectiveness. For CLT, leadership solely exists in interaction and is a function of it; nonetheless, individual leaders can play a role in interacting with this dynamic, such as by enabling it.

Stacey, Griffin and Shaw (2000) offer a final, sixth framework, one they contend is different than existing complexity leadership frameworks. They point out a frequent internal contradiction within the complexity leadership science. They note that while most researchers focus on the dynamic interactions between agents, and the influence of relationships, their theories often collapse to being centered on the individual leader and his or her ability to influence interactions. Stacey (2007) builds upon this criticism with the contention that leadership theorists acknowledge the paradoxes generated by complexity theory, but then strive to dissolve them with a systems view of human organizations in which a rationally informed leader objectively observes the system and influences relationships (Panzar, 2009). In Stacey’s (Stacey, 2007, 2010; Stacey, et al., 2000) textbook-long framing of complexity leadership, he moves away from the notion of leadership as an individual agent that can control the evolution of a social system. He presents leadership as a “complex response process” that is based upon human interactions, realized through communicative acts, and grounded in the individual agent who has the freedom to choose amidst a context of enabling and constraining interactions (Panzar, 2009).

This section has reviewed the core concepts of and key frameworks that have been posited for complexity leadership. Nonetheless, it has only scratched the surface of the literature on complexity leadership. This field itself is an emergent dynamic, with new frameworks, insights, and practice guidelines being spawned regularly out of the interactions of the CAS that is complexity leadership science itself. In the following section I review some of the behavioral recommendations for positional leaders who want to apply complexity theory in their organizations.

## Toward a Practice of Complexity Leadership

Various theories of complexity leadership have been in development for over a decade, resulting in, among other things, the frameworks noted above. There appear to be two general types of research on the behaviors required to engage in complexity leadership. In the first case, some researchers (e.g., Marion & Uhl-Bien, 2001; Plowman & Duchon, 2008; Uhl-Bien, et al., 2007; Wheatley, 2006) have identified the principles of complexity sciences and then extrapolated leadership behaviors from them. The second variation consists of researchers (e.g., Goldstein, et al., 2010; Hazy, 2008; Lichtenstein & Plowman, 2009) who have longitudinally studied (sometimes retroactively) organizational and inter-organizational emergence phenomenon, using the lens of complexity leadership theory, and begun to validate the behaviors predicted by complexity leadership theory. There has been no longitudinal research done to date that I am aware of in which leaders intentionally applied complexity leadership theory to their organizations and overall organizational performance was monitored.[2]

After my review of literature on complexity leadership, there were three sets of practices that I feel are representative of the field to date. These are not meant to be a comprehensive distillation of complexity leadership behaviors, but rather a representative sampling. For further details, I refer readers to the book-length treatises on the topic (Goldstein, et al., 2010; Hazy, et al., 2007; McMillan, 2008; Stacey, 2007, 2010; Stacey, et al., 2000; Uhl-Bien & Marion, 2008; Wheatley, 2006). In the subsequent pages I describe those practices, and then offer a summary of recommendations for my personal practice.

The first of these sets of complexity leadership practices is from Marion and Uhl-Bien’s (2001) pioneering work in which they identify guidelines for leading in complex organizations. The second is from Plowman and Duchon’s (2008) research on dispelling the myths about traditional leadership – which they call “cybernetic leadership” – in service of the new, enabling behaviors of emergent leadership based upon complexity sciences. The final set of practice injunctions comes from Lichtenstein and Plowman’s (2009) work to construct a complex systems leadership theory of emergence at successive organizational levels.

There is some overlap amongst these sets of practices, as the authors are building upon each other’s work. However, I feel it is valuable to present each as a separate entity rather than attempt to consolidate them, as they each take a different perspective on complexity leadership. Marion and Uhl-Bien’s (2001) guidelines are more general in nature, for example, than Lichtenstein and Plowman’s (2009) emergent leadership behaviors, as the latter are specifically focused on actions that create the conditions for new emergent order. Plowman and Duchon’s (2008) approach, in contrast, focuses on traditional approaches to leadership and dispels the myths that arise from them through the application of complexity theory principles.

### Guidelines for Leading in Complex Organizations (Marion & Uhl-Bien, 2001)

Complex leadership is the process of fostering conditions in which the new behaviors and direction of the organization emerge through regular, dynamic interaction. Rather than trying to control or exactly direct what happens within the organization, they influence organizational behavior through the management of networks and interactions. The following five practices underlie the execution of such leadership.

Foster network construction. Effective leaders learn to cultivate interdependencies through the management and development of networks within – and external to – their organization. This involves forging new connections where none exists, or enriching existing connections. The development of these networks provides contacts, but more importantly, they form the structure from which innovation can emerge. A strong network is a source of fitness for an organization, as it provides fitness to the technologies upon which it is based, as well as to the participating systems as well.

Catalyze bottom-up network construction. In addition to creating and maintaining networks, leaders also need to create the supportive environment in which new networks can emerge. By indirectly fostering network construction, they can catalyze network development. The ways to be such a catalyst range from delegation, resource allocation, and encouragement, to simply not interfering in network construction. Work environments can be reorganized to support interaction, additional decision-making powers and trust can be extended to their staff, and even new rituals and myths can be constructed that help create a culture of interaction and networking. Finally, complex leaders can also catalyze network development by avoiding solving problems for workers, insisting, rather, that they work out their own issues collaboratively.

Become leadership “tags.” A tag is the flag around which all parties rally, the binding philosophy that brings people together. Leaders can catalyze network development by becoming a tag. This does not mean that they control people with respect to a certain philosophy, but rather that they represent the essence of that philosophy or concept. For example, a school principle might serve as a tag for institutional excellence and the school’s reputation. These leaders rally people around the ideals of the organization, promoting an idea and an attitude.

Drop seeds of emergence. Complex leaders drop seeds of emergence by identifying, encouraging, empowering, and fostering connection between knowledge centers within an organization. Rather than trying to closely control, such leaders let people try new approaches, and pilot the application of novel ideas, then challenges them to evaluate and adjust their experiments. One way to do this is to send workers to conferences or other idea-generating environments in search of new insights and opportunities. The purpose here is to create a space of organized disorder, that spawns dynamic activity, emergent behavior, and creative surprises at multiple locations throughout the system.

Think systemically. Systemic thinking (Senge, 1990) is central to complexity leadership. It challenges leaders to continually be aware of the interactive dynamics at multiple levels of engagement, from aggregate, through meta-aggregate, to meta-meta-aggregate levels. This is not an easy thing to do, but it is vital to consistently see the broader pattern of events and understand the network of events that have caused a problem.

### Emergent Leadership Dispelling Myths about Leadership (Plowman & Duchon, 2008)

Through the lens of conventional leadership, the world is assumed to be knowable and desired organizational futures are considered achievable through focused planning and the use of control mechanisms. Complexity scientists counter that uncertainty is a better starting point. Specifically, they contend that the world is not knowable, systems are not predictable, and living systems cannot be forced along a linear trajectory toward a predetermined future. There are four myths of conventional leadership that are therefore dispelled by the application of complexity sciences: leaders specify desired futures, leaders direct change, leaders eliminate disorder and the gap between intentions and reality; and leader influence others to enact desired futures. The behaviors of emergent leadership, based upon complexity science, which replace these “myths”, are summarized below.

Myth 1: Leaders specify desired futures. Conventional leadership worldviews frame leaders as visionaries, who see the future, chart the destination, and guide their organizations toward that destination. The repeated prescription is to: clarify the organization’s desired future, scan the external environment, design the requisite actions, and remove any obstacles. Complexity theorists suggest that organizational unpredictability often comes from within the organization, through the interactions of its members, which are not controlled by its leader. It is usually organizational members that develop the ideas that lead to productive futures for the organization, arguably a more important source of ideas than the vision of the leader at the top of an organization. Therefore, complex leaders should focus on enabling productive futures rather than controlling them (Marion & Uhl-Bien, 2001). Thus, the “new reality” to replace Myth #1 is that “leaders provide linkages to emergent structures by enhancing connections among organizational members” (Plowman & Duchon, 2008, p. 139). This is based upon the complexity theory principle of emergent self-organization, in which the interaction of individual agents, exchange of information amongst them, and continuous adaptation of feedback from each other creates a new system level order.

Myth #2: Leaders direct change. Leadership theorists often contend that the essence of leadership is to lead change (e.g., Kotter, 1996). One of the principles of complexity theory concerns sensitivity to initial conditions. It notes that major, unpredictable consequences can arise out of small fluctuations in initial conditions (Kauffman, 1995). Thus small changes at anytime, anywhere in the system, can cascade and lead to massive change that may be inconsistent with the leader’s change vision. The new reality to replace this myth, then, is that “leaders try to make sense of patterns in small changes” (Plowman & Duchon, 2008, p. 141). By detecting and labeling patterns in the midst of emergent change, leaders have a greater chance of helping their organizations to respond effectively.

Myth #3: Leaders eliminate disorder and the gap between intentions and reality. Leaders are typically seen as needing to influence others to accomplish the tasks required to achieve organizational objectives. They are also expected to minimize conflict and cultivate harmonious relationships, such as in the case of leader-member exchange (LMX) theory (Graen & Uhl-Bien, 1995). Complexity theorists contend that organizations are not characterized by stability and harmony, but rather exist on a continuum between stability and instability (Prigogine, 1997; Stacey, 1996). As organizations gravitate toward greater instability, due to destabilizing forces, new, emergent ideas and innovations arise. Therefore, rather than constantly attempting to stabilize an organization, leaders can at times help their organizations to benefit by being a source of disorder and destabilization. The new reality to replace Myth #3 is therefore: “leaders are destabilizers who encourage disequilibrium and disrupt existing patterns of behavior” (Plowman & Duchon, 2008, p. 142).

### The Leadership of Emergence (Lichtenstein & Plowman, 2009)

Lichtenstein and Plowman (2009) build upon both of the sets of behaviors discussed above (Marion & Uhl-Bien, 2001; Plowman & Duchon, 2008). Their focus is not on complexity leadership as a whole, but rather specifically on the production of newly emergent orders from the dynamic interactions between individuals. A newly emergent order arises when the capacity of a system to achieve its goals increases profoundly, by several orders of magnitude. The researchers identified four conditions for such emergence: the presence of a dis-equilibrium state, amplifying actions, recombination/”self-organization”, and stabilizing feedback. These conditions can be generated, they contend, through nine specific leadership behaviors, which are briefly discussed below. Figure 1 shows how these behaviors and conditions integrate to create a new emergent order.

Figure1. Behaviors that co-generate the conditions for the new emergent order. Reprinted from Lichtenstein and Plowman (2009, p. 621)

Disrupt existing patterns to generate dis-equilibrium. Two leadership behaviors contribute to this practice: embracing uncertainty and surfacing conflict to create controversy. Leaders and organizational members need to embrace uncertainty they face in order to initiate or heighten the system’s state of dis-equilibrium. By honestly assessing the situation, possible choices and uncertain outcomes, and not simply dictating solutions, leaders and members change the context in which they are operating, helping to destabilize the system. Additionally, generating constructive conflict and creating controversy are also key to driving a move toward dis-equilibrium, as this practice alters the conditions in which members function. In a space of discomfort and conflict, new ideas and possibilities tend to emerge.

Encourage novelty to amplify actions. Three behaviors serve to encourage novelty that in turn amplifies actions, helping small changes to cascade, escalate, and quickly move through the system. The first of these behaviors is to allow experiments and fluctuations, by letting seeds of potential change be dispersed widely and grow, leaders increase the chances that some will “take root” and spread rapidly through the system. The second leadership behavior is to encourage rich interactions through a culture of “relational space.” The non-linearity of complex adaptive systems can lead to rich and meaningful interactions that catalyze unexpected, positive outcomes. When done within a context of mutual trust, respect and psychological safety – a “relational space” – these rich interactions deepen the interpersonal connections amongst participants, thereby supporting the amplification of changes as they occur. The final leadership behavior is to support collective action. While certain individuals are responsible for key actions, often it is the collective action that creates the coherence and strength of an initiative, and allows for unexpected connections to arise. By allowing chaotic, collective action, leaders create the conditions for amplification of initial changes.

Sensemaking and sensegiving for recombination and self-organization. When systems are at their capacity limits, they either collapse or reorganize. As agents and resources in a system are recombined in new ways of interacting, system functioning tends to improve. By making and giving sense to issues within a complex adaptive system (through the following three behaviors), leaders support development of the conditions in which systems can recombine and self-organize. The first leadership behavior is to create correlation through language and symbols. Correlation means a shared understanding of a system (Marion & Uhl-Bien, 2001). It can be created through specific, repeated language that reframes or gives additional meaning to a phenomenon, or via symbols that cultivate mutual understanding. Secondly, leaders can work to recombine resources. By uniquely recombining space, capital, capabilities and other vital resources, emergence can be fostered. These novel combinations alter the context in which people are working and stimulate new connections. Finally, leaders can accept “tags.” Tags were discussed above in the section on guidelines for leading in complex organizations (Marion & Uhl-Bien, 2001). The researchers contend that when a single, or multiple, individuals accept becoming a “tag” for an emergence process, there is greater likelihood for recombination/”self-organization.”

Stabilizing feedback. Once amplification of change has begun, it sometimes needs to be dampened so that the emergent change does not spin the system out of control.  The key behavior the researchers identified to enable this condition is to integrate local constraints. This means to make adjustments to the system based upon localized needs, thereby helping the emergent change to better adapt to that specific context. An example would be changing the hours of new operations of an organization to better meet an important group of constituent’s needs.

In sum, Lichtenstein and Plowman (2009) engaged in longitudinal research on three organizational and inter-organizational phenomenon that experienced emergence. They identified nine leadership behaviors that contributed to the development of four conditions vital for the emergence of new order. This set of practices builds upon previous work Plowman (2008) had done to dispel key myths of traditional leadership in the light of complexity sciences, as well as the ground-breaking insights of Marion and Uhl-Bien (2001) on complexity leadership in general. Multiple books (Goldstein, et al., 2010; Hazy, et al., 2007; McMillan, 2008; Stacey, 2007, 2010; Stacey, et al., 2000; Uhl-Bien & Marion, 2008; Wheatley, 2006), have extended these recommendations for practice, and are replete with examples. Nonetheless, I believe that the heart of complexity leadership in practice is represented in these three reviews.

As I venture forward as a leadership practitioner, based upon these readings, I have synthesized my understanding of what to do in practice in the following statement on complexity leadership.

### A Memo to Myself on Practicing Complexity Leadership

Strive to create emergent conditions in the complex adaptive systems in which I engage and those which I serve. In such situations, the capacity of the system can dramatically increase, by orders of multiple magnitudes. The conditions for doing so include a state of dis-equilibrium, actions that amplify throughout the system, recombination or self-organization, and feedback that stabilizes the system from spinning out of control.

Strive to think systemically as much as possible, paying attention to multiple causal loops, the impact of small fluctuations, and consistently scanning for broad patterns at the micro, meso, and macro levels. To support emergence, there will need to be many networks – within and external to the organization. As such I can build them directly and support their development by others. I can plant seeds for emergence by strengthening knowledge centers within organizations and encouraging and enhancing the connections between those that are internal as well as with those that are external. Along the way, I need to be willing to become, or encourage a group of colleagues to become, a leadership “tag” – in which we represent the essence of a philosophy or concept central to the emergence process.

Remember that I don’t need to see the future and chart a linear path to get there. While I can create broad brush strokes for where we might consider going, my greatest impact will be in strengthening the connections among organizational members, thereby linking them to emergent structures. It is through them that most if not all of the innovations and novel ideas will arise. Therefore, my role is to enable productive futures, rather than controlling them, by enriching these connections. Rather than trying to direct change in a methodical manner, look instead to understand emerging patterns in small changes, so that I can feed that meaning-making into the learning, living system that makes up the organization I serve. These small changes can create unpredictable large scale impact, so my energy is better spent looking to identify them rather than trying to manage a linear change process over the long term. Thus, change leadership becomes more of an improvisational dance with the system, listening to how it is responding and adapting quickly in accordance.

Do not feel that I need to keep the organization and its systems in a state of constant harmony or equilibrium. Remember that innovative ideas and novel structures emerge not out of stability and balance, but from a state of dis-equilibrium and destabilization. Thus, be willing to allow for and even foster destabilization as I sense appropriate; go ahead and disrupt even healthy patterns of behavior if necessary. Don’t pretend that I know what to do and how to get there in a linear way. Remember that these are complex adaptive systems that operate with nonlinear behavior and therefore focus instead on strengthening and clarifying the processes that lead to emergent behavior rather than cutting down the obstacles in the way of the long-term vision.

Regularly encourage novelty, experimentation, pilots and prototypes. Small successes can become a form of positive deviance that rapidly scales across the system; the key is to create healthy conditions for those experiments to take place, trusting that the successes will emerge. Engage with others, and support the development of, “relational spaces” – arenas of deep trust, mutuality, respect and psychological safety in which the connections among members of the organization can be enriched and expanded. Use my abilities to see patterns and generate metaphors to help make and give sense to the phenomenon arising throughout this work. I can also use symbols to help create a mutual understanding. Above all, though, work to create this mutual understanding as it supports the process of self-organization when needed.

Remember that I will occasionally need to stabilize changes that are emerging, so that they don’t spin a system out of control. This can be done by adapting the change process and its effects such that they honor local constraints and are therefore more easily embedded within the local context. Above all, have fun, don’t get stuck in trying to logically figure this all out, and trust that within my network exist all of the resources required to support development of a newly emergent order in the systems I serve.

## Two Limitations to the Practice of Complexity Leadership

This section briefly discusses two of the key limitations I see to the practice of complexity leadership: the need to supplement it with other epistemologies and leadership approaches; and no acknowledgement of the potentially insufficient capacity that people with conventional meaning-making systems may encounter in attempting to engage with it.

### The Need for Other Perspectives to Enhance the Complexity Leadership Approach

One way to frame the limitations of complexity leadership and the need to consider other leadership perspectives is to consider it within the context of integral methodological pluralism (IMP) (Wilber, 2006). A full explanation of IMP and its application is best left to other articles (e.g., Brown, 2010). Yet, essentially, IMP is a meta-epistemology that integrates all of the major epistemological methodologies. It is summarized in Figure 2.

Figure 2: The eight major methodologies of integral methodological pluralism Source: Wilber (2006). Courtesy Integral Institute.

Each of these methodologies enable us to reliably reveal knowledge about the different aspects of a phenomenon. These eight major methodologies help us to understand and explain the intentional, behavioral, cultural, and social forces that affect any given phenomenon, such as a leadership initiative. The more aware we are of all major forces at play, the greater chance we have of responding appropriately and succeeding in bringing about our objectives. The eight major methodologies are: phenomenologystructuralismautopoiesisempiricismhermeneutics,ethnomethodologysocial autopoiesis, and systems theory (Wilber, 2006). The usage of these terms here differs slightly from their use in other contexts.[3] The eight methodologies represent the main families of research methods available to scholar-practitioners. Certainly there are other research approaches, but these are some of the more historically significant (Wilber, 2003a). Each is a unique culture of inquiry which reveals a perspective and data that the others cannot. The practice of using as many of these methodologies as is practically possible, to gain a comprehensive understanding of any phenomena, is called integral methodological pluralism (Wilber, 2006).

Complexity theory is based in two of the eight methodologies of IMP: it is mostly grounded in systems theory (Bertalanffy, 1968; Laszlo, 1972a, 1972b) and somewhat draws upon social autopoiesis (Capra, 1996, 2002; Luhmann, 1984, 1990). Complexity theory has been explained as an expansion of systems theory by some leading researchers (Stacey, et al., 2000). Thus, while it can offer very powerful insights about leadership, it still holds an epistemological bias that filters out other equally valid data concerning leadership. As such, the practice of complexity leadership should be supplemented with other types of leadership that draw upon different epistemologies, thereby helping leaders to see a broader picture than that offered by complexity leadership alone.

However, it should be noted that even this combination – complexity leadership theory plus transformational leadership theory and adaptive, administrative, and enabling leadership – will still leave out several of the key epistemologies that provide important data on any leadership situation. Missing but often highly relevant perspectives include phenomenology (Idhe, 1986), hermeneutics (Howard, 1982), ethnomethodology (e.g., cultural anthropology, ethnography, discourse analysis), and psychological structuralism (Kegan, 1982, 1994; Kohlberg, 1981, 1984; Loevinger, 1976).

In my review of the complexity leadership literature, particularly salient for me was how strongly it de-centers the subject.[4] The complexity sciences upon which this field is based are grounded in objective, third-person epistemologies such as empiricism and systems theory. These perspectives, as traditionally defined, do not incorporate the subjective viewpoint of the observer or participant. This appears to be a profound limitation for the complexity leadership literature because it does not acknowledge, much less attempt to tap into as a source for creative insight, the subjective reality and internal experience of leaders themselves. Humans are not merely rational, objective beings, and, as such, subjective forces, dynamics and influences are presentduring any leadership moment. To not even acknowledge the entire subjective reality experienced by leaders and draw upon it as part of the complexity leadership process seems to be doing a disservice to both the field and the leaders that engage with it. A complexity leadership theorist might say that such subjective experiences and influences are indeed incorporated into the approach as they are considered as potential small perturbations to the complex adaptive system that can cause large-scale change. However, this response still demonstrates an objectification of subjectivity, for which empiricism has long been criticized.

Fundamentally, despite the critical viewpoint I have offered, I believe that efforts to encourage complexity leadership to incorporate the subjective sciences and other epistemologies are not likely succeed. Such a strategy seems short sighted. Rather, complexity leadership should be embraced for the valuable perspectives it provides and encouraged to develop its approaches to leading through that epistemology. Yet it should also be held within a larger context and broader leadership approach that incorporates other types of epistemological inquiry. What we need is not to force different epistemologies and leadership approaches to change so as to be inclusive of all others, but instead to adapt a meta-epistemological framework – and ultimately a meta-leadership framework – that embraces each of them for their unique perspective while also recognizing their inherent limits. Integral methodological pluralism offers one such meta-epistemological framework, and a leadership framework based upon it may offer a pathway through this theoretical entanglement.

### Meaning-Making Systems and Complexity Leadership

The second potential limitation I see to complexity leadership concerns the degree of meaning-making maturity that may be required to effectively engage with it. My proposition is that leaders with more mature meaning-making systems may be more capable of engaging the practices of complexity leadership. Conversely, those with conventional meaning-making systems may not be able to fully adapt to the fundamental changes in leadership perspective called for by complexity leadership.

Complexity leadership calls for a letting go of the notion of control and “knowing what to do,” acknowledgement that the future cannot be predicted, and a recognition that organizations and groups are not able to move in a linear path toward a pre-defined objective. Traditional leadership is largely decentralized in this approach, and those with positional power are asked to think in systems, tend to the conditions that support emergence, and focus on process rather than outcome. The literature challenges leaders to manage the polarity between equilibrium and dis-equilibrium – between stability and chaos – and that they foster conflict and dissonance in the system regularly. Complexity leaders are also called to see multiple causal loops, recognize patterns within complex processes from the micro to the macro, and engage in improvisational dance with complex adaptive systems – listening closely and responding in an instant. Finally, they also need to remember to stabilize things when too much emergence occurs too fast so the entire system does not gyrate out of control (Lichtenstein & Plowman, 2009; Uhl-Bien & Marion, 2008).

These leadership behaviors would seem to require not only considerable cognitive complexity, but also a very mature self-identity and ability to make meaning. The meaning-making systems of the majority of managers and leaders may not be sufficient to sustainably engage – without regular support – in these behaviors. To clarify this point, I offer below a brief review of the studies that have estimated the distribution of leaders and managers across the spectrum of meaning-making systems, from pre-conventional to conventional to post-conventional.

The constructive-developmental frameworks of Kegan (1982, 1994) and Loevinger/Torbert (Loevinger, 1966, 1976; Merron, Fisher, & Torbert, 1987; Torbert, et al., 2004) have most frequently been used to study the intersection of leadership and meaning-making. In a large-scale (n = 535) study of managers and consultants in the UK (Cook-Greuter, 2005), approximately 43% held a post-conventional stage of meaning making. These are the most mature stages [Individualist, Strategist, Alchemist and Unitary/Ironist in Torbert’s action logics framework (Torbert, et al., 2004)]. In a study (n = 497) of US managers and supervisors (consultants notincluded), only 7% were assessed with post-conventional meaning-making, and in the general adult US population (n = 4510), about 18% have developed to this level of maturity (Cook-Greuter, 2004, 2005). Rooke and Torbert (2005), drawing upon some of the same data sets, claim that 15% of leaders hold these post-conventional stages. While there is no precise data available on this topic, it is fair to say that a large majority (65-85%) of leaders and managers in developed countries hold a conventional meaning-making system.[5]

I propose that the qualities of conventional meaning-making systems limit the ability of those with them to engage effectively in complexity leadership. This is because complexity leadership seems to require a strong comfort with ambiguity, uncertainty, and not knowing. Other requirements seem to be: enter deeply into multiple frames of reference and take many perspectives [such as to manage the entanglement between adaptive and administrative structures (Uhl-Bien, et al., 2007)] ; recognize mutual causality in human interactions; deal with conflicting needs and duties; and consciously allow others to make mistakes. Research suggests that these qualities arise with the development of postconventional meaning-making (Cook-Greuter, 1999, 2000; Joiner & Josephs, 2007; Nicolaides, 2008).

Thus, those with later stages of meaning-making may be able to adeptly handle the challenges of complexity leadership. Leaders with a conventional stage of meaning-making (Diplomats, Experts, Achievers in Torbert’s action logics framework) would seem to have less of a chance of being successful. This is because, for example, the main focus of the expert action logic is expertise, procedure and efficiency (Cook-Greuter, 2004). Experts tend to be immersed in the logic of their own craft and regard it as the only valid way of thinking. They are often reactive problem solvers and make decisions based on incontrovertible “facts” (Joiner & Josephs, 2007).  These qualities of the Expert meaning-making system do not seem to align with the demands of complexity leadership. Achievers face a similar struggle, although they may have better chances. For them, the main focus is on delivery of results, effectiveness, achieving goals and being successful within the system (Cook-Greuter, 2004). They tend to emphasize reason, analysis, measurement and prediction (Cook-Greuter, 1999). It is not until the first of the postconventional action logics – the Individualist – that one really begins to understand complexity, systemic connections and unintended effects of actions. Additionally, Individualists can play different roles in varying contexts and are able to adjust their behavior to the context (Torbert, et al., 2004). These qualities, and the others previously mentioned that develop in the postconventional action logics, seem to more accurately fit the needs of complexity leadership.

In sum, while complexity leadership theory and its various approaches offer considerable potential improving leadership, the training of it should probably be reserved for leaders who have demonstrated advanced (i.e., postconventional) meaning-making capacity. It does not seem realistic to expect leaders with a conventional action logic to learn and sustainably engage with it over an extended duration.

## Conclusions

The application of complexity theory to leadership has generated a novel field and important perspective that facilitates the understanding of complex organizational behavior. It reveals dynamics and forces present within and across organizations that no other approach to leadership offers. When combined with other leadership approaches that complement its epistemological bias toward systems theory, complexity leadership can be a powerful tool for any individual to support organizational change.

For me, personally, the study of complexity leadership theory and practice has provided a fresh and powerful leadership lens. My engagement with this literature has dislodged several notions I previously held about leadership and has inspired new ways to think about and act in the face of complexity. My biggest change is a commitment toward supporting the conditions for the emergence of novel order within complex adaptive systems. By focusing on creating fertile ground for innovation and insight to sprout within and across systems, I feel that I do have some degree of influence over the otherwise uncontrollable reality of organizational behavior.

The field of complexity leadership theory and practice is still young and will require considerable research to substantiate its claims and realize its full potential. Complexity leadership is not a panacea for our leadership problems, and never will be in my opinion. No matter how much research backs its findings, it will continue to require supplemental perspectives to fully map the leadership terrain. Nonetheless, I feel that it offers one of the most important ways to reflect upon and engage in leadership. Our organizational environments are becoming increasingly complex, and the complexity leadership approach is grounded in decades of research in how to work with complex systems. Fundamentally, its insights and guidelines provides me with additional hope and inspiration that we will, collectively, learn how to handle the global social, economic, and environmental challenges that symbolize today’s world.

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### Notes

• [1] The explanations for all of these elements, except “complex vs. complicated,” “characteristics of a complex system,” and “complex adaptive systems, are from Marion (2008).
• [3] For full explanation of the “technical” use of these terms, consult Wilber (2003a, 2003b, 2003c, 2003d)
• [4] I am grateful to my colleague Darcy Riddell who first pointed this out to me.
• [5] This estimate of 65-85% does not include consultants, who tend to be assessed more frequently with a postconventional meaning-making system than do leaders, managers, and the general population (personal communication with Susanne Cook-Greuter, April 2009). However, complexity leadership is geared toward leaders, managers, and even individual contributors in organizations, thus the focus should be on their meaning-making, not that of consultants who may advise to them.

Learner Papers: How Organizational Archetypes Manifest at Each Level of the Gravesian Value Systems

Learner Papers

# How Organizational Archetypes Manifest at Each Level of the Gravesian Value Systems

Jorge Taborga

Abstract

Organizational culture provides the impetus for the behaviors in an organization which work to fulfill its mission or work against it. Schein (2010) stratifies culture into artifacts, values and beliefs, and underlying assumptions. The latter are the deeper and unexamined values that contain the models of behavior resulting from the shared experiences of the organization as it solves problems and which are taught to all its members. According to Jungian organizational depth psychology, as documented by Corlette & Pearson (2003), these underlying assumptions reside in the unconscious of an organization, particularly in the part of the its psyche called “complexes.” These complexes are formed through organizational experiences patterned by the psychic energy of archetypes as they take form through the minds of individuals and collectives.

Dr. Clare Graves spent most of his professional life researching and ultimately developing theories for the value systems that associate different life conditions with the mental capacities that emerge in humans as they solve problems (Lee, 2009). He named his research the Emergent Cyclical Levels of Existence Theories (ECLET). His theories have been popularized by Beck & Cowan (1996) in their work of Spiral Dynamics. Cowan & Todorovic (2000) equate the Gravesian value systems to the underlying assumptions inside an organization which are largely responsible for organizational cultures.

This essay explores the connections between archetypes and the value systems of an organization as a way to arrive at a deeper understanding of the emergence of organizational culture. Each archetype is explored as a pattern of behavior at each level of the ECLET value systems. An archetypal correspondence map is articulated for three of the most common Gravesian value systems found in modern and post-modern organizations. This correspondence is validated through a case study of a small consulting company. The case study provides a framework for the analysis on how archetypes are manifested in an organization and how the emerging culture can be interpreted through the lens of value systems.

The correspondence of archetypes to values systems explored here provides an approach to a deeper understanding of the emergence of organizational culture. As presented in this essay, this approach is far from being a repeatable method of cultural assessment and much less for intervention. However, it is a start to further research which has the potential for shining light into the organizational unconscious and in particular into the effects that archetypes have on underlying assumptions (value systems). This new light could emerge as a way to assess organizational culture and to determine interventions that would bring culture into greater alignment with the fulfillment of the organization’s mission.

Introduction

Organizations are complex entities, both socially and psychologically. There is also a broad biological element given the neurology of the diversity of humans involved. This bio-psycho-social milieu makes each organization unique, yet they all seem to operate following common patterns of behavior. Strategic plans, Management by Objectives (MBOs), career development plans, performance reviews, budgets, project plans, employee meetings and a host of other practices can be found across most enterprises. Teamwork, consensus, entrepreneurship, bureaucracy, power play, gossiping, scapegoating, and back-stabbing are also behaviors that reside in the depths of organizations and either help or hinder their missions, and either uplift the humans in these organizations or oppress them.

Schein (2010) posits that the culture of an organization determines its actions. He defines culture as:

A pattern of shared basic assumptions that the group learned as it solved its problems of external adaptation and internal integration, that has worked well enough to be considered valid and therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems. (p. 18)

This definition by Schein corresponds to two concepts that will be used throughout this essay: life conditions and mental capacities. These concepts were introduced by the research of Dr. Clare W. Graves and are documented in the book The Never Ending Quest (Cowan & Todorovic, 2005). Dr. Graves developed what he called Emergent Cyclical Levels of Existence Theory (ECLET). In this theory, humans are exposed to a variety of life conditions (Schein’s problems) which give way to mental capacities to solve them (Schein’s basic assumptions). In Graves’ theory, human development can be grouped into value systems that are in agreement with what has “worked well to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members” (Schein, 2010, p. 18). This is the culture or the value systems of individuals in an organization or a much larger social system like a country or a particular ethnicity.

Schein (2010) describes culture in three layers: artifacts, values and beliefs, and underlying assumptions. The artifacts are the physical manifestations that tell how the organization is conducting its affairs. Artifacts would include a company’s P&L, its products and services, its workplaces, the pictures on the walls, the types of cups used for coffee, and the t-shirts sporting a catchy slogan given to employees after a product launch. Artifacts are the focus of cultural archeology. Much can be interpreted from their analysis but only superficial theories can be derived about the behaviors of the humans in the organization.

In contrast, value and beliefs correspond to a deeper level of culture. It is the set of shared learning and experiences by an organization. It started with the leader and then became a shared experience. As values are repeated in solving problems, they take on the flavor of underlying assumptions. These assumptions become the internal, reflective muscle of how individuals inside an organization are not only expected to behave but are perpetuated by every action. Even though organizations have a relatively transient population with each member bringing their own set of underlying assumptions, organizational culture normalizes each into a shared set that defines how the organization responds to the problems it faces every day.

Graves studied underlying assumptions starting in the 1950’s through his death in 1986 (Cowan & Todorovic, 2008). He leveraged his students and their lives to capture the data necessary for his research. Graves did not start with a theory about the emergent levels of existence (how individuals cope with problems) rather he let the collected data generate a theory. His research started as he wrestled with questions from his psychology students at Union College in New York on which theory of human psychology was correct. He taught a psychology survey class which introduced students to a variety of theories, from Freud’s to Maslow’s.

Graves’ research was simple in structure. He asked each student to write a short essay describing the mature adult personality in operation. After collecting a large number of these essays (he reportedly ended up with about 40,000 of them in a 30 year span), he started to notice patterns in the essays that corresponded to similar descriptions of life conditions (problems for the mature adult) and mental capacities (how the mature adult is supposed to respond to them). He grouped the similar responses into clusters, which gave way to the 8 value systems in ECELT. This theory was popularized by Beck & Cowan’s book Spiral dynamics: Mastering values, leadership and change (1996). Incidentally, both Beck and Cowan worked with Dr. Graves and have continued his work both in application and teaching.

Corlett & Pearson introduced a framework for the organizational psyche in their book Mapping the Organizational Psyche: A Jungian theory of organizational dynamics and change (2003). This work focuses on the interaction of the organizational unconscious and its conscious components through the structures of the organizational psyche. Corlett & Pearson draw a parallel of the organizational psyche from the human psyche as defined by psychologist Carl Jung. This famed psychologist did not focus his attention on organizations because he believed that the organizations of his time (he died in 1961) did very little to emancipate and support human evolution to a state of wholeness (Corlett & Person, 2003). The authors of Mapping the Organizational Psyche undertook this work in response to the new Jungians who felt the need for the application of Jung’s intricate theories of the psyche to various groupings of humans.

Corlett & Person (2003) state that:

Jungian Organizational Theory shares the belief that the question of meaning—why organization members are willing to invest so much of their creativity and agency in organizations—is bound up by the collectively held values at the heart of an organization’s culture. (p. xiv)

These authors further posit that meaning is deeply connected to the unconscious of an organization, which represents the unseen psychic forces that “bind people to each other and their work” (Corlett & Pearson, 2003, p. xiv). Further, Corlett & Pearson hypothesize that the unconscious is the container for the organization’s behaviors and norms that get transmitted to newcomers. The organizational unconscious is also responsible for the collective dynamics or culture. These theories by Corlett & Person are consistent with Schein’s views of organizational culture.

At the root of the organizational unconscious, Corlett & Pearson identify the organizational archetypes. These authors state that along with several other scholars, they view “that the human inclination to create organizations is the expression of an archetype” (Corlett & Pearson, 2003, p.18). They further explain that archetypes are the templates of organizations and that they are the primary vehicles through which the unconscious speaks to an organization to develop toward wholeness. Corlett & Person introduce twelve organizational archetypes arranged in four Life Forces. The first life force focuses on the development of people through relatedness, how the organization relates to employees and how they relate to each other. The second life force provides the template and psychic energy for obtaining resultsLearning is the third life force containing the archetypes on how the organization learns, takes risks, and goes about the creative process. This life force is balanced by a fourth, stabilizing. This latter life force brings the structures, processes and systems into the organization to pattern its efficiencies, manifest its creativity and provide for the needs of its people.

This essay aims to establish a correspondence of the organizational archetypes and the ECLET value systems. Based on the theories of organizational culture of Schein, Graves, and Corlett & Pearson, the unconscious, and thus archetypes, are intricately involved in defining the value systems of an organization that are the foundation for the underlying assumptions: the set of problems and the set of known and valued responses in each organization. A case study is utilized to illustrate how the correspondence of organizational archetypes with the ECLET value systems provides a richer and more actionable understanding of an organization’s culture.

Based on his research on organizational culture, the author believes that much of an organization’s operation is tied to its unconscious and the layer of underlying assumptions. These two important components of the organizational psyche deeply affect the successes and failures of an organization. They also provide the bio-psycho-social container for individuals in organizations and affect their own personal development and happiness. If wholeness is the ultimate goal for individuals and by extension organizations, then a deeper understanding about how organizational archetypes and value systems interplay is warranted. This essay is meant to provide a survey of these topics and open up possibilities for further research.

Corlett and Pearson’s Organizational Archetypes

Organizational Psyche

Corlett & Pearson (2003) model the organizational psyche in two layers: conscious and unconscious. In their conception, the conscious layer is where the ego-driven actions and behaviors of those leading the organization manifest activity and shape its culture. The conscious layer is the world of Schein’s artifacts. The unconscious layer, at the heart of psychologist Carl Jung’s analytical psychology, provides the psychic energy necessary for conscious actions. Figure 1 shows the structures of the organizational conscious and unconscious which parallel what Jung conceived as the architecture of the individual psyche. Corlett & Pearson adapted this model and introduced constructs unique to the psychology of organizations.

Figure 1. Map of the organizational psyche. This picture is an adaptation of the organizational psyche by Corlett & Pearson (2003).

Conscious Organization

Figure 1 shows that the conscious portion of the organization is composed on the Center of Consciousness and the Public Face. The center of consciousness is “analogous to Jung’s concept of the ego” (Corlett & Pearson, 2003, p. 27). It comprises all of the conscious activities performed in an organization, such as planning, managing, coordinating, developing, marketing, testing, implementing and reflecting. The center of consciousness is composed of the collective egos in the organization arranged and empowered by the structures instituted by its leadership. This component of the organizational psyche is intricately connected to the organizational archetypes manifesting its activities in accordance with the archetypes that are active in organization and in their level of maturity.

The center of consciousness also has a predominately masculine or feminine character. This is driven not only by the gender of the constituency inside an organization but by the manifestation of the anima and animus archetypes. Certain organizations, like the army, would operate in an animus (masculine) set of characteristics because of the nature of their mission, regardless of how many females it has enlisted in its ranks. In contrast, most healthcare provider organizations and schools exhibit anima (female) characteristics given its care and nurturing missions. This is also irrespective of employee gender, although actual gender membership significantly influences the masculine vs. feminine attributes of an organization. Corlett & Person (2003) define three signs of masculine/feminine balance in an organization: a) balanced gender by relatively equal numbers, b) level of comfortableness by each gender inside the organization, and c) both females and males are part of the decision-making process.

The public face of the organizational psyche corresponds to Jung’s concept of the persona. The persona is how individuals present themselves to the world and is driven by two sources: “the expectations and demands of society and the social aims and aspirations of individuals” (Stein, 1998, p. 115). The organizational analog provides a filter through which energy flows in and out of the organizational psyche in its connection with the outside world. It is where the brand identity of the organization lives. It transmits the ideal images of itself to the outside world hiding aspects which are deemed “internal” by the organization’s leadership. In the end, the public face of an organization is a set of tradeoffs between what the organization is willing to share and what the world expects from it. Not conscious but still present in the organization’s public face will be artifacts that capture unconscious activity that is not congruent with the public image. For instance, an organization in healthcare may portray itself as caring for the wellbeing of all customers through its products and services yet may have an inadequate medical insurance program for its employees driven by their desire to save money.  In this example, the artifact, the medical insurance program, is incongruent with the desired external image.

Organizational Unconscious

Corlett & Pearson (2003) begin the definition of the unconscious with the collective unconscious. They state that the collective unconscious serves as the foundation for the entire psyche of the organization as it does for its individual analog. It is the container for the neurology that defines us as human beings and “resides in the inherited structure of the brain” (Corlett & Pearson, 2003, p. 14). It contains two types of structures: instincts and archetypes. Instincts are the consistent modes of action common to all humans that do not require cognitive engagement. Instinctual actions just happen without ever being taught (Stein, 1998). Archetypes are psychic patterns that shape human behavior. They can be understood as the controlling patterns in the mind that regulate how we experience life. Archetypes represent our basic responses to organizational life. Quoting Morley Segal, Corlett and & Pearson (2003) state that archetypes are “key contributors to organizational culture, many of them representing the forms or outlines of the basic responses to organizational life” (p. 15). From these definitions, we can see that archetypes are the seed to the responses (mental capacities) to the problems in organizational life (the life conditions).

The organizational unconscious is the unique array of “energies, contents and truths” (Corlette & Pearson, 2003, p. 15) that operate beyond the conscious control of the organization. It is the bridge between the conscious organization and the collective unconscious. It provides the psychodynamic environment for these two forces to interplay. It is composed of the shadow, the participation mystique, the complexes and the organizational archetype.

The shadow comprises the collection of what has been repressed because the organization does not allow it by its rules, procedures or values. Commonly repressed elements of organizational life include feminine characteristics in an animus (male) dominated environment, feeling and intuitive preferences in a rationally dominated institution, and freedom of expression in a tightly controlled hierarchical institution. The shadow of an organization, like its individual counterpart, is its alter ego. It contains both positive and negative energies and subtly affects how the conscious organization goes about its business. The shadow contains features that are contrary to customs and group moral conventions. Stein (1998) states that the shadow contains features that are contrary to customs and moral conventions and that everyone has one. He also posits that the shadow is not experienced directly by the ego because it is part of the unconscious, and that instead, it is projected onto others. In the context of organizations, the shadow’s projections would go to outside entities, like the competition, or would be channeled as projections between internal functions.

The participation mystique is the part of the organizational unconscious that links individual egos to the organization. It provides the attractor that makes an individual want to be part of a given organization. It is the conduit for the organizational archetypes to be expressed by each person in the organization. The participation mystique is a term coined by Jung. Corlett & Pearson use it to describe how an organizational archetype connects to each individual.  In this model of the organizational psyche, multiple archetypes would find expression through a single person.

Organizational complexes are containers of memories, thoughts and feelings experienced as work progresses through the activation of a given archetype. They are in essence the underlying assumptions that form at the unconscious level in the act of doing business. Over time, these complexes uniquely identify an organization and provide the basis for its culture. Values and beliefs are built upon complexes and change over time as the environment (life conditions) provides opportunities to solve new problems (mind capacities). For instance, teamwork and collaboration has evolved to a much higher degree in the last 30 years. This aspect of work life is driven by the Lover archetype that regulates how people work and relate to one another. The degree of collaboration has a lot to do with this archetype. In the last three decades, the teamwork and collaboration complex has evolved across most organizations. With this evolution, the value of collaboration has changed. Teams have evolved from simple work containers to social structures with democratic, dynamic empowerment and demonstrable higher performance.

The organizational archetype roughly corresponds to the archetypal self in individuals. It serves as a significant source of energy for the organization and provides the pattern for how it operates. Individual aspects of the organizational archetype connect to the universal collective unconscious archetypes from which they draw their patterns. Corlett & Pearson (2003) define the organizational archetype as having four dimensions or Life Forces. Each life force contains elemental archetypal energies aligned with a particular aspect of work life.

The life forces are arranged in two pairs of complementary forces that seek balance with one another. The first pair is focused on people and results. The people life force is how an organization relates to its employees and how they relate to each other. The results part of the archetype encompasses how the organization gets things done. The second pair of the life forces is learning and stabilizing. Learning is how an organization gains knowledge, takes risks and moves through the creative process. In turn, stabilizing is concerned with how an organization manages itself in terms of what it provides to its employees and the processes and controls it has in place. In a healthy organization, both life force pairs should be balanced. Figure 2 shows the arrangement of the organizational archetype, the life forces and the individual human faces of the organizational archetypes in each life force.

Figure 2. The organizational archetype and its components. This mandala-like arrangement was adapted from a similar drawing in Corlett & Pearson (2003, p. 18)

Life Forces and the Twelve Human Faces of the Organizational Archetypes

Figure 2 depicts twelve human faces of the organizational archetype. These are individual archetypal energies that produce specific psychic patterns in the organizational unconscious leading to the formation of complexes that ultimately define the organization’s culture. The genesis of these archetypes is the work of Carol Pearson who has performed considerable research in Jungian depth psychology and has been able to synthesize a large collection of archetypal definitions into twelve faces. Her work is documented in a number of her books and articles. In her partnership with John Corlette, Ms. Pearson expanded her twelve archetypes into the faces of the one organizational archetype. These authors jointly introduced the concept of the life forces that was described in the previous section. Table 1 summarizes the characteristics of each human face of the organizational archetype.

Table 1. The twelve faces of the organizational archetype. The definitions for this table come from Corlett & Pearson (2003), and Pearson (1991, 1997).

 Human Face Positive Pattern Negative Pattern Every person (Orphan) Pearson originally called this archetype the Orphan to denote its inherent dependency psychology. The every person version denotes the individual who is part of an organization needing considerable support. Organizations with this archetype have a strong belief in the importance of each individual and tend to single out those who distinguish themselves with their performance and accomplishments. The Orphan has a strong sense of being abandoned. This translates into employees not trusting their leaders and in feeling that everyone is out to get them. Scapegoating is a characteristic of the Orphan. Lover This archetype is manifested in the level of respect between the company and its employees. It is also established in how people communicate. The Lover archetype is positively expressed through direct communication and emotional honesty. Consensus is a characteristic of the Lover as is passion and engagement. Collaboration and support are found in organizations with a strong Lover archetype. Closeness is another attribute of this archetype. The negative side of the Lover translates into a large number of emotional dramas, over-emphasis on consensus, group-think, and cliquishness. Jester The Jester archetype brings enjoyment and fun to the work environment. It is manifested in “lightness” in the interaction within the company and its stakeholders. Jester organizations have a good work-life balance, enabling employees to work from home and have flexible time. Also, the Jester brings celebration to the workplace for milestones, personal events and holidays. The negative Jester gives way to dark humor, con artistry, low ethics, and a total disregard for rules, procedures and standards. Hero This is the most common archetype in western organizations. It brings the energy of working hard to make the world a better place. The Hero translates into vitality, competition, discipline, focus and determination. There is a fair amount of self-sacrifice in the Hero for the betterment of the larger whole. Hero organizations usually have a cause and are able to enlist employees in working for it. These organizations value the actions of the Hero and recognize them with a number of rewards. The negative Hero creates the need for an enemy. This type of Hero can be arrogant, impulsive, obsessive and ruthless. Negative Hero organizations tend to overwork their people and expect ongoing sacrifices. These organizations also tend to be lower in their financial compensation than most. Revolutionary This archetype provides the counter story to the typically linear direction of the organization. Revolutionaries are troubleshooters and tangential thinkers. They look for the reasons why the glass is half empty. They are change agents looking for continuous improvements. Revolutionary organizations are able to make tough calls such as dealing with non-performers. Negative Revolutionary organizations can be dark places where fear is a regular characteristic. In these organizations people get fired for no apparent reason and employees are also afraid of what may happen to them. Also, the permeating attitude is one of “nothing is good enough.” Change for change sake is another of the negative characteristics of the Revolutionary archetype. Magician This is the transformative energy inside any enterprise. It is responsible for the “level 2” changes. Innovation, high energy, and flexibility are characteristics of the Magician. Organizations with a highly developed Magician archetype are extremely adaptive and respond easily to changing markets and world conditions. Magicians are systems thinkers and natural change agents The negative Magician archetype is manifested in manipulative energy, lack of follow-through, and working on seemingly innovative tasks that have no purpose. Organizations with a negative Magician archetype start a lot more projects than they finish. Innocent An organization expressing the Innocent archetype is typically highly hierarchical with centralized power at the top. Management’s role is that of a guardian and the company is seen as the provider of the employees’ wellbeing. Employees trust management and seek guidance in their development. Learning is passive and directed by management. Innocent organizations lack innovation and tend to be involved in simplistic work. The negative side of the Innocent archetype translates into victimization, denial, and resistance to change. The Innocent organization prefers maintaining the status quo. Explorer (Seeker) Pearson used “Seeker” as the original name of this archetype. It brings the sense of individuality, exploration, risk taking and self-discovery. This archetype is essential to the emancipation of the employees. Without it, growth inside the workplace would be limited. The Seeker takes responsibility for his/her own learning and channels new knowledge into worthwhile endeavors at work. Explorer organizations tend to be flat and democratic, allowing individuals to work at their own rhythm and time. Negative Explorer organizations will conduct activities that are uncoordinated and with little accountability. Minimal to no planning is practiced by these organizations. Also, inadequate records are maintained. These organizations do not pay proper attention to their employees, their needs and problems. Given their loose management structure, there is potential for chaos. Sage The Sage archetype correlates to Senge’s (2006) learning organization. As learning grows from the Innocent to the Explorer and then the Sage, the organization is accumulating knowledge that is leveraged in practical ways through achieving and demonstrating mastery. Sage organizations establish centers of competency in true practice and not in name only. Systems thinking is a hallmark of Sage organizations. Ongoing reflection, action learning teams and transformative learning practices are also characteristics of Sage organizations. Learning is an integral part of daily work life. The negative Sage organization can be emotionally detached appearing uncaring and inhumane. It may also be disconnected from the needs of the market and work on the wrong things. Over analysis is another strong potential of the negative Sage individual or organization. Ivory towers and intellectual elite can emerge in these organizations. This would limit those who can learn and who can express their ideas freely. Caregiver The Caregiver is the necessary archetype for an organization to provide for the wellbeing of its employees. This care ranges from basic benefits to personal development. The Caregiver is also manifested by the care of the organization for the community and the social system in which it operates. Harmony, cooperation, and support for each other are characteristics experienced by the employees in Caregiver organizations. Negative Caregiver organizations tend to over work its people, experience burn out, have low mutual respect, and experience high turnover. Compensation is low and people are expected to work long hours. These organizations typically avoid confrontation being overly passive. Delegation is not actively practiced by management. Creator The Creator archetype expresses innovation and the creative processes in an organization. This archetype provides the counterbalance to the Explorer. It provides the vehicle for the Explorer’s knowledge to turn into something tangible. In the Creator, there are elements of imagination, artistry, and vision. The challenge for this archetype is its disdain for formality, bureaucracy (either real or perceived) and the potential of applying creative energy to non-necessary endeavors. Negative Creator organizations do not adequately support employee creativity. They also have the attitude that nothing is good enough. A natural inattention and frustration with routine and rules exists. In addition, there is almost paranoia about “selling out” to the demands of the market. Ruler This archetype is about maintaining order and creating harmony out of chaos. It implies a sense of responsibility, balancing and allocation of resources. Either as individuals or organizations, it is manifested as decisions, authority, process, systems, goals, and strategies. The challenge for the Ruler is being fair and non-tyrannical. Decisiveness and direction need balance with methods and unique situations of others. Negative Ruler organizations are hierarchical and bureaucratic. In addition, they tend to be less tolerant of diversity and appreciate people that do as they are told. Power is centered at the top of the organization and lower levels are viewed as lesser. Image is more important than actions. In extreme cases, negative Ruler organizations oppress, cut ethical corners, and are inflexible to change.

The twelve faces of the organizational archetype defined above do not explicitly correlate to gender in form or psychic energy. They can all be manifested in masculine or feminine organizations and in male and female individuals. However, the psychic energy of these archetypes can be colored by the Jung’s anima (female) and animus (male) archetypes. The workplace has been evolving and becoming more gender neutral. However, there are some of the faces of the organizational archetype that would have more of a bias toward one gender than the other. The Caregiver archetype would have an anima/feminine inclination. As an example, there is a higher presence of females in Human Resource department where decisions are made on how employees will be cared for. In contrast, there is a higher male population in management and the Ruler archetype would have an animus/masculine bias.

This essay will continue to examine the twelve faces of the organizational archetype in their correspondence to the ECLET value system (to be introduced in the next section) and in its application as represented in the case study. For the rest of this essay these twelve faces will be referred to as organizational archetypes for simplicity.

The Emergent Cyclical Levels of Existence Theory (ECLET)

Gravesian Theory

Dr. Clare Graves developed the Emergent Cyclical Levels of Existence Theory (ECLET) from the data he collected from 1952 to 1959 regarding the personality of the mature adult in operation (Lee, 2009). Graves did not have a theory in mind when he started his research. He simply wanted to understand the differences in personalities of mature adults as they relate to their human experience. This inquiry started as a response to questions from his students as they pondered which theory of human psychology was correct (Cowan & Todorovic, 2008). His research was simple in structure as it involved having his students write an essay describing the personality of a mature adult in operation. The data collected in the 1950’s included over a thousand essays from students raging 18-61 in age (Lee, 2009, 8).

Dr. Graves used a trained panel to classify the data as it was being collected over the seven-year span. The initial classification yielded two groups: one for individuals whose concept of the mature adult was denying/sacrificing self and the other about expressing self (Cowan & Todorovic, 2008). Upon further analysis, the sacrifice-self group was determined to have an external locus of control and aimed to make meaning of life through input from the world, resulting in actions to modify or improve self. In contrast, the express-self group was found to have an internal locus of control, that is, getting direction exclusively from within and focusing actions on changing the world.

As Graves’ research continued, the panel involved in the classification further separated each group into two subgroups yielding four classifications. They determined that the sacrifice-self individuals could a) “deny/sacrifice self for reward later” or b) “deny/sacrifice self now for getting acceptance now” (Lee, 2009, 19). The subgroups associated with the express-self subjects could a) “express self in calculating fashion and at the expense of others,” or b) “express-self as self desires but not at the expense of others” (Lee, 2009, 20). A fifth group emerged later as Graves continued his research belonging to the express-self category. This newly found group also shared an internal locus of control but it focused on expressing self impulsively at any cost. This last group was found in the early 1960s (Lee, 2009, 28).

Through his continued research, Graves realized that the classification of his subjects did not remain static. He followed up with the lives of many of the individuals who participated in the research while at the same time adding more data points (Cowan & Todorovic, 2008). Graves determined that individuals changed their idea about what a mature adult should be like. That is when he conceptualized an evolutionary cycle that alternated between expressing self and denying/sacrificing self. He documented this evolutionary pattern as follows:

• Expressing self impulsively at any cost—changing to
• Denying/sacrificing self for reward later—changing to
• Expressing self in calculating fashion and at the expense of others—changing to
• Denying/sacrificing self now for getting acceptance now—changing to
• Expressing self as self desires but not at the expense of others

There was a sixth classification that was noted in the transitions as individuals evolved. This group was another deny/sacrifice self that evolved from the last express-self group that focused entirely on existential realities. It is at this point and throughout the 1960’s that Graves developed and matured ECLET. His conclusion was that his classifications represented the amalgamation of unique life conditions and mind capacities that form part of human evolution. The life conditions present the collection of problems that individuals need to solve, while the mind conditions correspond to the problem-solving neurology currently active in each individual. The recorded evolution from one group to the next had to do not only with a change in life conditions (new problems) but a neurological transformation that readied the individual to operate at the new level.

As Graves prepared his first set of essays on ECLET, he added two entry level classifications which preceded the one on express self impulsively. In ECLET Graves theorized that humans evolved from primitive man to contemporary beings not just physically but socially and psychologically through what he ended up with: eight levels of human existence combining life conditions with mind capacities. His first level places early humans in clans dealing with the problems of survival of food and shelter. His eight-value system, albeit embryonic, has humans focused on existential problems since subsistence problems would be fully solved for people at this level. In his theories, Graves posits that the first six levels of human evolution are fixated on issues of subsistence ranging from physiological survival to mastery of materialism. The last two systems, he viewed, function at a higher octave repeating the basic patterns of the first six but operating at a level of beingness no longer preoccupied with subsistence but rather focused on the higher purposes of being human.

Graves utilized a simple notation to refer to the eight value systems in ECLET. He used the letters A – H to represent the life conditions and N – U to denote mind capacities. The pairing of the two letter sequences identifies each of the eight value systems. These are: A-N, B-O, C-P, D-Q, E-R, F-S, G-T and H-U. Using D-Q as an example, this is the sacrifice self for reward later level which has “D” life conditions or problems and “Q” mind capacities to solve them.

Graves conceived that humans evolve from A-N to H-U and beyond. However, he also found in his research that given harsh life condition changes, humans could regress to a lower level. Additionally, humans could enter or exist in an environment that is different from their mind capacities. For instance, humans with “R” mind capacities could be in a system with “D” life conditions. ECLET conceives mind conditions to be nested or accumulative. A person with “R” mind capacities has the neurology to understand and operate in any system raging from A through E. Graves theorized that most humans operate in a combination of a sacrifice and express-self mind conditions. His research showed that a small number of people operate in a single mind condition system. He termed this rare mature adult in operation “nodal.”

According to ECLET, human beings transition from one system to the next when a number of conditions are met which result in a “higher level of neurological direction of behavior” (Cowan & Todorovic, 2008). Graves identified six conditions necessary for the transition. The first is the potential in the brain. Unless impaired, the potential for all system exists in the human brain.Second, the individual should have resolved the existential problems in the current system. According to Graves, this resolution releases the psychic energy needed for advancement.Thirdly, a dissonance associated with the breakdown in the solutions at the current level must occur. Graves found that all individuals making a system transition do so after a period of crisis and actual regression. The experienced dissonance results in the biochemical transmutation necessary to alter the neurology needed to solve problems at the next level. It is at this stage of regression where the individual prepares to move forward but could also arrest development or actually regress to a previous level. The fourth condition and the one responsible for stopping the regressive process is insight. This condition involves having insight into the new ways of solving problems. The next condition, the fifth, is overcoming barriers. Relationships and other constraints from the previous system must be overcome. Most relationships ground humans in one system and provide resistance for an individual to move on (Cowan & Todorovic, 2008). Consolidation is the sixth and final condition. It involves the practice and affirmation of the new way of solving problems.

Don Beck and Chris Cowan, the authors of Spiral dynamics: Mastering values, leadership, and change (1996) worked with Dr. Graves for a period of 10 years prior to his death in 1986. Both of these social scientists saw the applications of ECLET as a lens to understand and work with organizations. Their book positioned ECLET as a management set of principles and tools. To make Graves’ levels of evolution more accessible to the general public, Cowan devised a color scheme to replace the A-H and N-U letter nomenclature. The colors denote only the “nodal” state of a system and not its life condition/mind capacity pairing. Table 2 provides the key attributes of the eight value system in ECLET.

Table 2. The eight value systems in ECLET. This table adds the color correspondence introduced by Cowan in spiral dynamics. The contents of this table are based on the article “Human nature prepares for a momentous leap” published by The Futurist in 1974 (p. 72-87) and reprinted on Cowan &Todorovic (2008).

 Value System Spiral Dynamics Thinking Motivation Means/End Values Problem of Existence A-N Beige Automatic Physiological Purely reactive Maintaining physical stability B-O Purple Autistic Assurance Traditionalism/safety Achievement of relative safety C-P Red Egocentric Independence Exploitation/power Living with self-awareness D-Q Blue Absolutistic Peace of mind Sacrifice/salvation Achieving ever-lasting peace of mind E-R Orange Multiplistic Competency Scientific/materialism Conquering the physical universe F-S Green Relativistic Affiliation Sociocentry/community Living with all humans G-T Yellow Systemic Existence Accepting/existence Instilling sustainability in the planet H-U Turquoise Differential Experience Experiencing/communion Accepting existential dichotomies

Today, spiral dynamics is highly regarded by organizational development professionals and managers in all types of industries. Dr. Beck has applied the principles of ECLET to a large number of organizations ranging from the Dallas Cowboys to the country of South Africa. Chris Cowan made his life mission to preserve the theories of Dr. Graves through his books, articles and seminars. Although much of the original research has been lost by practitioners (Cowan & Todorovic, 2008), the principles of ECLET as reflected in spiral dynamics are in use today to aid in the problem solving at every level of the human evolution.

The Eight Value Systems

This section describes the core attributes of each of the eight ECLET value systems. Table 3 provides a summary of the life conditions and mind capacities associated with each. Through this table the evolution of human life conditions can be appreciated along with each human response to deal with their related complexities. Mind conditions need to solve the problems at each level of the ECLET framework in order to fully evolve (Beck & Cowan, 1996).

Table 3. Life conditions and mind capacities for the ECELT value systems. The contents of this table are adapted from Cowan & Todorovic (2008) and A mini-course in spiral dynamics (2001).

 Value System Life Conditions Mind Capacities Beige (A-N) Natural state Environment provides for all needs Instinctual nature Environment provides for all needs Purple (B-O) Survival requires others Reciprocity is established Spirits are unexplained phenomena Myths and traditions frame life meaning Curiosity about forces of nature Reliance on wisdom of elders Awareness of causality Denial of self-identify for tribe Fear of spirits and find safety in group Red (C-P) Hostile and predatory world Survival is uncertain Power and domination are necessary Deceitfulness is needed Extreme emotions are the norm Self fully identified and distinct Polarized allegiances No sense of guilt present but capable of feeling shame Motivated by rewards No fear of death or punishment Capable of pity for others Blue (D-Q) Ethnocentric world Good vs. evil World of polarities and contrasts Living under a higher power Life as a series of endless struggles Hierarchy based on class Self-control Polarity thinking Capable of abstract thinking Live life linearly and orderly Follow external standards Strong sense of guilt Capable for compassion for others Orange (E-R) Multiplistic reality (options) Potential to make things better World understood by science Age of interconnectedness through information, networking and social media Hierarchy based on success Belief in own capabilities Ability to follow own desires and goals Work with many options to determine the best one Competitive Measured and quantified reality Entrepreneurship and risk taking Green (F-S) Mission to undo the results of greed, excess and unmeasured consumption Awareness of diversity Recognize material sufficiency Open and sharing community Resurgence of spiritual and metaphysical realities Empathy for others Relativistic thinking Acceptance and care for others Avoidance of judgment Tolerance for ambiguity Seek peace and harmony Socially and emotionally impactful Yellow (G-T) Planetary limitations and risk of world collapse due to unaware business and social practices Potential for balanced living through harmonious interplay of all beings Complexity of interconnected parts Long term orientation Ability to deal with paradox, ambiguity and uncertainty Learns equally from information and emotion Free from fear and compulsivity Systems thinking Contextual thinking Turquoise (H-U) Problems of existence are solved No meaning in hierarchy, success, and conflict Return to natural living where science is in harmony with nature Reverence, humility and fusion with all of life Honor and respect for different levels of human beings Enjoyment of world of context Unconditional cooperation and trust Work to stabilize life preventing any future out of balance states

Beige (A-N)

This is the most fundamental and original system of human existence which dates to the early stages of human evolution (100,000 ago). Beige no longer exists in pure form (Cowan & Todorovic, 2008). Even the most basic of clans or tribes have been affected by external civilizations and have evolved to the next levels of existence. A-N is an express-self system although the concept of self is not fully developed. People in the beige system did not have a fully awaken self-identity. Their main focus was survival, motivated by hunger, sleep and other physical needs. These beings did not possess a sense of time, distance, or causality (Cowan & Todorovic, 2008). Modern humans can temporarily regress to the beige system during intensely traumatic situations.

Purple (B-O)

The next step in evolution is the purple (B-O) existence level which took place around 50,000 years ago (Beck & Cowan, 1996). This is a sacrifice self-value system. The sacrifice is for the way of the collective as established by its elders. The identity of the individual is purely based on belonging to the tribe. Myths, traditions and customs create meaning for purple. All unexplained phenomena are regarded as part of the spiritual realm. Wisdom and direction come from the elders of the tribe. Members seek protection from this collective. Causality is not yet discovered and sense of time is based on the seasons and their natural markers. This value system introduces dichotomy into the human psyche. With this, the sense of right and wrong arises along with what is taboo and superstition. Purple individuals are animistic assuming the presence of a life force in everything. At the core of all family life the essence the B-O system is still active. “Family oriented” organizations also exhibit B-O characteristics and in some cases expect a purple-type relationship, including the dependence on each other and the leadership. Sports teams, military platoons, survival groups and close-knit families represent this type of ECLET existence level outside actual tribes.

Red (C-P)

This value system is the first to express complete self-identity. The group identity of purple is shed in favor of an egocentric conceptualization. Instant gratification and personal power are the centerpieces of the Red (C-P) system. It first appeared on the planet about 10,000 years ago. C-P individuals have a spontaneous and impulsive expression. They have a sense of being threatened by the environment and others. Consequently, they seek domination as a way to cope with this threat. People in the red system do not feel any guilt in their actions but they experience shame (Cowan & Todorovic, 2008). They can be proud, lustful and violent. Might is right and their world is one of the “haves” and “have-nots.” This system is widely present in our planet today even in forms of government where an individual controls power using force to maintain it. It is also a system that all humans go through growing up during the years of teenage independence. As humans mature, the effects of red system are reduced or shut down for the most part. Gangs, sports teams, people at war, and anyone in physical danger can experience the C-P value system in full force.

Blue (D-Q)

This is a sacrifice system for the benefit of some reward in the future. Blue is absolutistic with the conception that there is only one truth. The values in blue result in an ethnocentric worldview. There is a strong sense that those that are different are not living correctly. All of the organized forms of governments and religions are blue systems (Beck & Cowan, 1996). They provide order, operate in a hierarchy and expect members to comply.  The blue system started about 5,000 years ago (Beck & Cowan, 1996). The view of the world in D-Q system is that it is “orderly, predictable and unchanging” (Cowan & Todorovic, 2008). There is a sense that what takes place is predestined by some higher power that more often than not is conceived as God. Security in the blue system comes from accepting this faith and direction. Guilt is a primary feeling in D-Q which comes from evolving out of the guiltless red system. Blue is also referred as the “saintly” value system (Cowan & Todorovic, 2005).

Orange (E-R)

The orange system is multiplistic and as such operates under the assumption that there are always options. This is the system that returned Apollo 13 back to Earth safely. Orange dares to ask questions not as defiance but as a way to find the best possible path of many (Cowan & Todorovic, 2005). There is no single truth in orange, just a more correct path. This system is about having the freedom to choose. It favors change and improvement. People in the E-R system do not seek to be right just to be “best in class” at what they do (Cowan & Todorovic, 2008). Competition, winning and risk taking are some of the key attributes of orange. The driving force for this system is to control one’s world for personal ends. Orange is the world of science, rational thinking, and efficiencies. Its aim is to master the material world. Success in this system may include manipulation, which is justified as a mechanism for achieving results. In orange, all things are tied to an economic value. Consequently, this system can easily generate ambition, greed and lust. Orange individuals prefer autonomy and independence, and as portrayed in today’s media, pursue abundance and a good life. Most of the innovation of the world has come up from the E-R system that started 1,000 years ago but intensified with the industrial revolution (beck & Cowan, 1996).

Green (F-S)

Like blue, F-S is a sacrifice-self system. However, in this case the sacrifice is for the benefit of being accepted now. Green is a relativistic system with no absolute truth. All humans have their place and diversity is revered. Emotions in green are respected and form the basis for true affection. Empathy is how others are accepted in contrast to red’s pity, blue’s compassion, and orange’s consideration (Cowan & Todorovic, 2005). Empathy in this system is of greater value than logic. People in the green value system can tolerate doubt and ambiguity, and can exhibit a larger sense of curiosity than the others. Social and environmental sustainability are the hallmarks of green. From this notion, green individuals see each other as equals and pursue social and economic justice. Community and unity are pursued in green. Relationships and being liked is more important than compensation and power for these individuals. There is a strong need to be accepted and to do what the group needs and wants. The F-S system has been available for about 150 years (Beck & Cowan, 1996).

Yellow (G-T)

Yellow is a system of self-expression. It is the first system operating in the second tier of existence according to Dr. Graves (Cowan & Todorovic, 2005). Like green, it is relativistic and contextual. Its core relational value is empathy. The yellow system adds the systemic mind capacity to green. Thus, system thinking is a core capability of G-T. Yellow individuals unlike their counterparts in all other systems are not impulsive and have left behind the fear of existence. Both of these attributes make them operate in a truly collaborative manner. They have the certainty that their needs will be met in some form and do not feel the need to compete (Cowan & Todorovic, 2008).

Even though yellow is a self-expression system, it has a considerable amount of affect. The people in this system are warm and approachable. Their self-interest pursuits are bound to not cause any harm to anyone. Yellow individuals require flexibility and operate best in open systems. They profess a deep humility and a reverence for all of life. People in the G-T system do not have fixed values. These emerge from current understanding of their condition. Motivation in yellow is self-generated and learning is mostly through observation and participation is a variety of situations. Leadership in the G-T system applies a similar leadership style to beige where the best fisherman should be the one fishing but at a higher octave. In the yellow system, the leader is the best person to guide others while the conditions and the individual’s situation are aligned. This system first appeared about 60 years ago (Beck & Cowan, 1996).

Turquoise (H-U)

Not much is known about the turquoise value system. In his entire research, Dr. Graves only found 6 individuals that exhibited a different conceptualization of the mature adult in operation than the previous seven systems (Lee, 2009). His turquoise (H-U) system definition evolved from this limited sample. In this value system our current problems of existence are solved and give way to another set of challenges on how humans continue to evolve. There is no timeline on when H-U could be present and its impact felt on our planet. Its availability is predicated on the problems that yellow would create (the new life conditions) to give way to the emergence of the turquoise mind capacities needed to solve these problems. Graves and the students of spiral dynamics speculate that the yellow system would solve the basic problems of existence, a preoccupation with all the other systems prior to yellow. Given life conditions where basic living is no longer an issue, what would the mind capacities need to be? In a simplified way, this would be equivalent to retirement with all needs met, including physical, mental and emotional. In our current conception of life, retired individuals with monetary security do not necessarily have the confidence that their other living needs will be met such as emotional support. H-U makes that possible.

The Modernistic and Post Modernistic Organizational Value Systems

The value systems of organizations are the amalgamation of the value systems of the people in the organization (Beck & Cowan, 1996). Schein (2010) states that culture is set by the leader or the leadership of the organization. In the same vein, organizational value systems are established by their leadership with reinforcing contribution by all members.

Contemporary organizations are mostly D-Q and E-R with some F-S in the mix (Lee, 2009). Traditional and hierarchical organizations would tend to mostly exist in the D-Q system while highly entrepreneurial and democratic organizations like Google would gravitate toward the E-R system. As it will become evident later in this essay by the attributes of F-S, there are not many pure organizations in this system (van Marrewijk, 2004). Organizations like Ikea and Interface Flor operate in an E-R world but bring a lot of F-S through their social and environmental sustainability programs. Their leaders demonstrate solid F-S characteristics and drive the culture of their companies with aspects of this value system. However, they are not pure F-S organizations.

G-T (yellow) organizations do not yet exist in any documented form (van Marrewijk, 2004). However, Lee (2009) forecasted a sizable percentage of individuals having G-T characteristics now forming part of modern organizations. In an interview with Dr. Beck he posits that yellow and turquoise value systems will come together a later time when problems created by the F-S system are fully apparent and require the full thrust of the yellow mind capacities (Roemischer, 2002).

The descriptions in Table 4 correspond to the value systems most applicable to today’s business organizations. Systems that precede D-Q are present in these organizations but are not the dominant value system. For instance, Red (C-P) exists in all organizations but in its pure form would exist in more power-based organizations such as gangs and organized crime.

Table 4. Attributes of the D-Q, E-R and F-S value systems along archetypal life forces. This table uses the Corlett & Pearson (2003) life forces to organize the key attributes of organizations in the blue, orange and green systems. Material for this table comprises of summaries and abstractions from text in Cowan & Todorovic (2005) and Beck & Cowan (1996).

 Life Force Blue (D-Q) Orange (E-R) Green (F-S) People (Organization Structure) Hierarchical org structure Top down leadership Organization is viewed as provider Status/title viewed as very important D-Q employees need strong direction or will act out Networked org structure Strong functional leadership Organization exchanges values with employees Influence/leverage is very important E-R employees need opportunities to demonstrate capabilities Peer org structure Leadership shared Organization viewed as a community Being liked is very important F-S employees need to be part of decision making process Results Drive for stability Results come from sacrifice and hard work Results benefit the organization Mission, strategies and goals are nested to drive results Drive for change Results come from innovation, risk taking and best choices Results benefit stakeholders, primarily shareholders Mission, strategies, functional goals, MBOs and personal goals are nested to drive results Drive for social justice Results come from group creativity and collective action Results provide social benefits and aim for sustainability Organization’s purpose drives strategies and group goals are nested to achieve socially impactful results Learning Directed by management Incented by some form of consequence Learn from individuals with strong qualifications Risk avoidance Innovation is to be approached with caution Higher knowledge reserved for elite Self-initiated learning Learn best through experimentation (trial and error, and risk taking) Learn from experts Risk taking is encouraged Innovation encouraged and rewarded Knowledge and expertise results in high status Constantly in learning mode (curious mind) Best learn through observation Learn from individuals who demonstrate their understanding of the group’s cause Risks must be accepted by the group Innovation is expected Learning organization Stabilizing (Managing) Controls and standards in place Strong bureaucracy Repeatable tasks with low creativity Fixed compensation at or below market Decisions made by leaders Room for highly creative work Measurements in place to determine performance Standards and controls to support process efficiency MBO programs Pay for performance at or above market Decisions made by experts supported by leaders Creative process applied to all activities Group dynamically decides what rules and controls to use Compensation is egalitarian and based on what is needed Decisions are made by the group

Analysis of the Organizational Archetypes in Each Value System

This section establishes a correlation of the ECLET value systems with the twelve organizational archetypes. Only the modernistic and post-modernistic value systems are considered (D-Q, E-R and F-S). Each correlation appears in the form of a table showing the behaviors for employees and then the organization as a whole for each individual archetype in the three values systems considered in this study. The correlations in this section come from the author’s own findings on the work of Dr. Graves on ECLET and Dr. Pearson’s organizational archetypes. A part of this research comes from the Spiral Dynamics course offered by Chris Cowan and NatashaTodorovic taken by the author in May of 2011.

Innocent

In general, the Innocent archetype influences individuals and organizations that are benevolent and operate in a highly hierarchical and centralized structure. An Innocent organization acts as the caring parent and the employees as the well-behaved children. This archetype is more prevalent in the blue value system (D-Q) than orange (E-R) or green (F-S). D-Q lends itself to the organizational parent/child relationship, given that this coping system is based on denying self for a reward later and to obey proper authority (Cowan & Todorovic, 2008). This system also seeks to create comfortable spaces and rightful living. The other value systems tend to have more dynamic environments and thus may challenge the Innocent archetype. Table 5 relates the characteristics of the Innocent archetype to each of the value systems being analyzed in this essay.

Table 5. Correlation of the Innocent archetype to the organizational value systems.

 Value System Employees Organization Blue (D-Q) Highly dependent on the benevolence of the employer Management viewed as higher power Employees seek job stability and security Follow the rules and ask for guidance Almost blind obedience Acceptance of limits and convention Repetitive work Highly structured hierarchical organization Steeped in tradition and convention Hard to change “Don’t fix what ain’t broken” mentality Orange (E-R) Work hard and do what is expected Lead through “tried and true” paths May follow unrealistic and utopian vision Displays positive and optimistic energy Comfortable place to be Environment is full of hope and optimism Barriers common to organizations are bypassed through positive outlook Stability as route to progress Green (F-S) Treasures values of organization Teams and company are perceived as nurturing Work in teams which are viewed as extended family Community providing and caring for its members High appreciation for employees Strong sense of harmony and cooperation

Everyday Person (Orphan)

Like the Innocent, the Orphan archetype drives individuals to seek safe organizations that can provide for them. Unlike the Innocent, the Orphan does not believe that the world is safe. Consequently, orphans feel betrayal at every corner, self-sabotage, and ultimately feel powerless. Orphan organizations are those that have experienced what is perceived as some form of betrayal or abandonment. Examples include takeovers, changing market conditions and poor leadership (Pearson, 1997). Unlike the Innocent archetype, the Orphan can easily live in the three value systems being analyzed. The structure and characteristics of D-Q can simply provide the life conditions for both Orphan organizations and individuals to exist. E-R is also a good candidate because of its competitive nature. In the E-R world there are winners and losers.  The losers could feel that the larger E-R system did them wrong and feel victimized. F-S is also capable of experiencing the Orphan. Fighting for a cause for social and environmental integrity could be rejected by the public, authorities and businesses. Lack of vertical system integration (seeing how other value systems see the world) could make an F-S organization or a set of individuals embody the Orphan archetype. Table 6 shows the characteristics of the Orphan archetype in its relationship to the Spiral Dynamics systems.

Table 6. Correlation of the Everyday Person archetype to the organizational value systems.

 Value System Employees Organization Blue (D-Q) Able to articulate fears and constraints Show compassion for vulnerabilities in others Distrust for management Complaining about standards and rules Linear thinking Organization’s philosophy is a “dog-eat-dog-world” Hierarchical organizational structure Mistrust between management and employees People not sharing in the misery are generally attacked Emphasis on survival Us against them thinking Orange (E-R) Anticipate problems Act as the “squeaky wheel” Realism and common sense about organization realities Winning in a scarce world Motivated to have financial security Power struggles and turf fights Political structures and gossiping Information is centralized and on “as need to know basis” Emphasis on bottom line Green (F-S) Empathy for individuals experiencing similar situations Healers of social and economic injustice Disdain for judgment and harming people Organization is self-aware of wounds and acts as “wounded healer” for others Employees encouraged to heal their own wounds Organization acts as teacher of hard lessons on how to survive together Teams empowered to support each other Emphasis on interdependence

Hero

The Hero archetype is well entrenched in the workplace culture. Modern organizations have reward and recognition systems that perpetuate the state of employees sacrificing themselves for their benefit. This self-sacrifice is supported by general business culture, the media and our upbringing.  Heroes are disciplined and fight for a just cause (D-Q). They are competitive and strive for victory (E-R). Their plight is for the benefit of the whole. The ideal Hero is selfless and aims to build a better world (F-S).  Table 7 shows the characteristics of the Hero archetype across the value systems.

Table 7. Correlation of the Hero archetype to the organizational value systems.

 Value System Employees Organization Blue (D-Q) Good soldier Dualistic with an either/or approach to problem solving Identification and elimination of problems Show strong company loyalty Ideological about role in the organization See sacrifice as the price for security and lasting employment Hardworking organization Disciplined Stress loyalty as a cornerstone Value team players Problems treated as obstacles to overcome Competitive drive focused inside Could have silos competing with one another, each with their own heroes Little tolerance for diversity-value sameness Could be limited by inflexibility Orange (E-R) Courageous, confronting challenges head on Focused and assertive Fight for change questioning status quo Goal is to be the best Risk taking Belief in own competence Focus on winning for self-promotion and benefit of the organization Goal and results oriented Externally competitive Winning tied to financial performance Expects employees to act as a winning team Management model is coaching Rewards correlated to financial results Pride in belonging to organization Strive for best in class products and services Green (F-S) Search for peace and harmony Represent the organization and for what it stands Strong willingness to act See sacrifice now to obtain benefits for self and others Highly relational organization Shared vision/shared purpose Long decision making process to build consensus Organization focused on undoing the wrongs of greed and selfish consumption Highly accepting or diversity

Caregiver

This archetype brings the characteristics of selflessness and sacrifice for the benefit of others. On the surface it is most aligned with the F-S value system. However, it can be found in Blue (D-Q) and Orange (E-R) as well. The motivation of selflessness is different in each system. In D-Q, the motivator for the Caregiver is to provide for the needs of others in the social system because that is what a benevolent person or organization does. The sacrifice for D-Q is aimed at the longer term. The concept of “reap what you sow” is at play for the D-Q Caregiver. For E-R, the motivation is to empower and to provide what others need to compete and win. The E-R Caregiver understands that without some level of care and encouragement an organization would fail. Caregivers act from their own sense of competitiveness but could be quite generous as long as those receiving benefits are contributing commensurably. In the F-S system, the Caregiver embraces the concept of service. These individuals and organizations provide for the needs of others purely because of their sense of community. Their understanding is that all should have what they need. The F-S Caregiver views that giving is its own reward. All caregivers in the three value systems are subject to being manipulated and “guilted” into giving. Table 8 shows the correspondence between the characteristics of employees and organizations expressing the Caregiver archetype and the value systems.

Table 8. Correlation of the Caregiver archetype to the organizational value systems.

 Value System Employees Organization Blue (D-Q) Do what needs to be done Clear sense of duty and responsibility Exhibit caring and compassion Show dedication through long hours Loyal to management Managers could be too passive and fail to delegate Propensity to experience burnouts Harmony, cooperation and caring are part of organizational values Employees are expected to sacrifice along with the company for the long term benefits Organization may experience workaholic behaviors, burnout, and high turnover Tendency to low financial compensation and expectation for long work hours-counter to stated values Orange (E-R) High engagement levels replace sacrifice Expectation for rewards and recognitions correspond to the level of effort applied Management appreciation for contributions Cooperation is a strategy to win High expected level of work resulting in excellent products and services Competitive pay viewed as necessary and fair for expected contribution Management views their role and enablers for their teams Investments in tools and processes are justified to make the work easier Green (F-S) High degree of collaboration Strong sense of social responsibility Caring extended to inside and outside (world) the organization Care for team members as family Strong empathy for others Could avoid confrontation and end up with “group-think” Camaraderie and mutual respect is high Employees are well taken care of as they are viewed as an integral part of “the family” Organization see its role and contributions in the broader social system

Explorer

The Explorer archetypes corresponds to what Pearson calls the journey in the development of an individual or organization (Person, 1997). The Explorer’s quest is about identity and purpose. It is through this archetype that individuals connect with their sense of vocation and organizations translate high level vision statements into a sense of purpose in the social systems in which they operate. The Explorer is a journey of discovery primarily involving learning, taking risks, and testing what works. The Explorer is what takes the Innocent to the next level in the Learning life force. The Innocent is content with being directed by the organization while the Explorer needs to find his/her own path. Explorer organizations are not content with just being in business. They must find its purpose and justify who they are to their social system. Apple, Inc. explored its entry into the entertainment market with several products to ultimately come up with the iTunes/iPod/iPhone combination that established a strong purpose for this organization.

The Explorer archetype is stronger in the E-R and F-S systems. Both of these systems leave authority behind and want to explore multiple alternatives. E-R is the multiplistic system and a natural to explore many paths to discover the “right one.” E-R learns by experimentation. Similarly F-S conceptualizes many paths buts its relativistic nature establishes that all paths are relevant. F-S learns vicariously by observation (Cowan & Todorovic, 2005). It observes what works and what does not and it embraces the path that the group prefers without judgment. The Explorer archetype has difficulties in the D-Q system. Learning in D-Q is driven by consequences and even punishment. There has to be a consequence in place for D-Q to learn (Cowan & Todorovic, 2005). For example, all employees need to have 40 hours of annual training or they will lose points in their annual review and get a lesser raise. The D-Q type of self-development borders with how the Innocent archetype learns. Table 9 establishes the correlation between the Explorer archetype and the value systems.

Table 9. Correlation of the Explorer archetype to the organizational value systems.

 Value System Employees Organization Blue (D-Q) New and improved products Changes to processes and tools Development of new standards Need to be challenged to remain involved Want vocational guidance and career development By definition D-Q organizations need structure and are typically hierarchical. They can have Explorer employees but a pure Explorer organization in the D-Q value system could not be sustainable. It would be a store-front with no real substance behind it. Little planning resulting in uncoordinated efforts Potential for chaos due to minimal systems and inattention to employee needs Orange (E-R) Achieve independence in thinking outside of “group-think” Integrity even under group pressure Divergent thinking Challenge rules Need feedback on how they are doing in their job Learning through experimentation Organization may be highly decentralized Loose association of equals (e.g. consulting partnership or law firm) Autonomy is a core value Management allows great freedom to employees to explore the individual goals Minimal administrative burdens Flexibility to employees to set their own work schedule and work remotely Green (F-S) Concerned with issues of meaning Development of team capabilities Establishing relationship of self with the whole Need recognition of uniqueness Learning through acute observation Informal evaluations, typically peer reviews Administrative, managerial and leadership workload is shared or responsibility rotated Egalitarian, allowing all to be equal High organizational cohesion High acceptance of diversity Group oriented problem solving with complete support for appointed lead

Lover

The Lover archetype is about how organizations relate to their employees and how employees relate to one another. This is the next level of the People Life Force in the Corlett & Pearson (2003) archetypal model following the Orphan. The Orphan archetype needs to belong to an organization but has this natural sense of abandonment and betrayal. The Lover represents a mature level of relatedness that goes beyond “I-It” in Buber’s (1970) relatedness conceptualization. Instead, it embraces an “I-You” type relationship. Additionally, the Lover archetype provide a level of passion and commitment that brings energy to the organization awakening what Peppers & Briskin (2000) call ‘soul.” It is through this soul that employees find meaning in their work lives and where they honor their relationships. The Lover along with the Explorer archetype provides the emancipatory energies for individuals to find at least part of their personal realization though their work.

The Lover archetype is a natural in the F-S system that is socio-centric (Cowan & Todorovic, 2008). Relationships are at the center of F-S and given its life conditions and mental capacities, the Lover archetype should be highly developed in this system. The E-R system presents a challenge for the Lover archetype. E-R is an individualistic system where relationships are the means to an end. Teams and other structures in E-R are needed by individuals and organizations to compete, deliver products and services, and meet financial objectives. However, E-R organizations can have a high degree of passion and employee commitment. These attributes also come from the Lover archetype. In the D-Q system, which like F-S has an external (social) locus of control (Cowan & Todorovic, 2008), relationships are an important part of the system. D-Q would have more of the “I-It” type of relationships than “I-You” but respect could lay a fundamental layer of relatedness that makes the organization operate cohesively. In D-Q and E-R, norms of conduct and what are acceptable behaviors between employees is necessary to provide guidance and establish punishments (D-Q) and feedback loops (E-R).  Table 10 shows the correlation between the lower archetype and the value systems.

Table 10. Correlation of the Lover archetype to the organizational value systems.

 Value System Employees Organization Blue (D-Q) Commitment to organization Need guidelines of conduct and employee relations Value quality of relationships Appreciate respect Caring and warm environment Could have silos and turf conflicts People may also avoid confrontation Danger of “group-think” Feelings not expressed or handled could result in gossip Employees are superficially friendly Emphasis on process Orange (E-R) Passion for job or assignment Interdependent teamwork with defined roles and responsibilities Rules of engagement Engagement contracts for large projects Appreciate diversity in skillsets and contributions Highly energetic environment High rewards for employee passion and commitment Share passion for organizational mission Assertive and honest communication Conflict resolution practiced Consensus is aimed as a way to make decisions but not relied if not reached People/skills development is a priority Green (F-S) Passion and commitment to group cause or direction Strong connection with team members Importance in relationships and with everyone getting along Expectation that all are committed Emotional engagement High degree of empathy and appreciation of diversity Highly social environment Power-sharing mode of operation Strong consensus decision-making model Honest sharing of feelings as the norm Feelings are valued and shared

Revolutionary

The Revolutionary archetype follows the Hero in the Results Life Force. The Hero in an organization is in tune with its needs and sacrifices self to address them. In contrast, the Revolutionary provides the counter story. It brings awareness on what needs to change and applies energy to its discovery and ultimate implementation. In its truest essence, the Revolutionary archetype correlates to change agents. Organizations that embody the Revolutionary archetype are not afraid of making hard calls and have an aggressive stance on non-performing personnel. Also, they are able to deal with non-performing products and services. A negatively inclined Revolutionary organization is a dark place to work where people are afraid of being terminated at a moment’s notice.

Both the D-Q and the E-R systems lend themselves well to house the Revolutionary archetype. A structured D-Q organization can use this archetype to clean house and remain vigilant on what is and what is not working. E-R organizations need the Revolutionary archetype to question their products and services, and their internal processes. The E-R organization actively seeks revolutionaries and encourages them to speak up. The challenge for this archetype is the F-S system. In a system that seeks harmony between its constituents individual revolutionaries would not have a place. However, F-S organizations would have complete groups acting as revolutionaries for internal change or for change in society. In this larger context, F-S organizations are the ones pointing out what is wrong in the world and how to fix it. Table 11 shows the correlation of the Revolutionary archetype with the ECLET value systems.

Table 11. Correlation of the Revolutionary archetype to the organizational value systems.

 Value System Employees Organization Blue (D-Q) Understand commitment to standards and quality Identify and eliminate waste and unnecessary costs Stoic attitude to do what needs to get done “Lean and mean” organization Eliminates problem employees Strong budget controls and money saving policies Eliminates programs that are not working or meeting expectations Not afraid of making tough calls Ensure standards are clear and expectations are understood May be in a business with little margin for error (e.g. healthcare) Orange (E-R) Understands commitment to excellence Identify and eliminate barriers and non-performing areas Unwillingness to tolerate inefficiencies Troubleshooting capabilities Tunes team performance Organized around current business model ready to change as model evolves Management encourages employees to speak their minds Frequent and thorough performance reviews for internal programs Green (F-S) Confidence in speaking up inside the group but never complaining about the group Change viewed as a relative state where emphasis needs to be switched to another state Socially and environmentally aware in terms of what is broken and needs to be addressed in society Consensus-driven change model Some have the mission of undoing the residues of greed and selfish consumption

Creator

The Creator archetype resides at the second level of the Stabilizing Life Force. This archetype brings the creative force into action manifesting it into new products and services, and internal improvements. The output of this archetype ranges from creations without much value for the most brilliant and purposeful. The Creator archetype works in tandem with the Explorer. It is the manifested counterpoint to the Explorer’s learning and developmental impetus. Organizations with a significantly active Creator archetype would produce the most innovative and life-changing products and services. Apple and Google are two examples of organizations that have changed the social landscape of information with their creativity.

The Creator archetype lives equally well across the D-Q, E-R and F-S systems. The motivation in each system is what differs. The Creator archetype in D-Q is focused on expanding and improving the products, services and internal systems already in place. There is strong sense of ownership present in the D-Q Creator archetype. The challenge for most D-Q organizations is the creativity applied to sales and marketing. Often these organizations do not achieve maximum potential because they fall short on the creative side of these functions. In contrast, E-R organizations understand sales and marketing and can support their creative archetype better. This archetype is the centerpiece of modern organizations in the E-R system. Most E-R organizations see their “secret sauce,” their creative secret formula as how they win in the marketplace. In the F-S system, organizations and individuals see the process of creation as the reward. Their motivation is to create solutions for others whether their business structure is commercial or non-profit. F-S creativity is viewed as a service for society and not just the organization. Table 12 correlates the Creator archetype and its characteristics to the D-Q, E-R and F-S systems.

Table 12. Correlation of the Creator archetype to the organizational value systems.

 Value System Employees Organization Blue (D-Q) Require input on value creation to focus creative energy Development of new products and services Enjoyment of work processes Provide equipment and facilities for research and development activities Provide organizational/title distinction for Creators (e.g. CTO, principal engineer) Orange (E-R) Need creative environment Need freedom and autonomy in the creative process Development of new (and potentially Revolutionary) products and services Enjoy creative corporate culture Strong sales and marketing engagement to match desired creative levels Provide tools and facilities to enable the creative process Provide incentives for the creative process such as rewards for patent filing Class recognition for inventors (e.g. architects) Green (F-S) See creativity as a group process Creative process has artistic overtones regardless of field Even practical matters require creative energy to be fulfilling Creativity connected to higher purpose Environment / architecture is fundamental to the creative process Connected Interdependence provides the flow for creativity Provides environment conducive to creativity (placed-based leadership principles) Creates the “space” to allow for creativity to emerge Use of dialogue and group design principles to co-create and think together – this is much different than group-think Management is integrated into the creative process

Sage

The Sage archetype is the third level of the Learning Life Force. It represents the realization of learning after the journey of the Explorer archetype has been completed. In the organizational context, the Sage archetype translates into global perspectives, objectivity, deep analysis, rationality, planning, and detachment to outcome. The challenge of the Sage archetype is connecting its “wisdom” to the people in the organization. The Sage believes in humanity but may not be in touch with it. Academic organizations are expected to embody the Sage archetype along with any organizations deeply dedicated to learning, particularly deeper subject matters.

The Sage archetype has a home in all three values systems, D-Q, E-R and F-S. The level of humanity will vary, with F-S being the system with the most “heart” from the Sage archetype. The D-Q system Sage would be extremely rational and focused on the knowledge that would make the entire enterprise work well. This would be a highly mechanistic view of applied wisdom. In E-R, wisdom would be highly evolutionary constantly seeking the most advantageous approaches to make the organization perform. D-Q would distinguish their sages by title and position. In E-R, the title would be less important. However, Sages would be well identified and have exclusive power. The F-S value system would relate differently with respect to the Sage archetype. F-S would expect Sages to be integrated into the group and not have any special power. However, they would be highly respected and valued. The Sage archetype in F-S would inherently be humanistic, not just in concept but application. Table 13 shows the correlation of the Sage archetype with the value systems.

Table 13. Correlation of the Sage archetype to the organizational value systems.

 Value System Employees Organization Blue (D-Q) Analyze situations, problems and results Long range planning with structured strategy nesting Leverage metrics to make sound decisions Provide thoughtful critique Engage in intellectual debates Manage crisis Fair leadership Learning organization in concept and structure – those that want to learn do and the others do not Organization values excellence Planning is a core practice Invested in the development of personnel People are given sufficient time and quiet to do their work Risk of being too analytical and detached Potentially not being in touch with the world and its needs Could over analyze situations Potential for ivory tower Submit employees to constant evaluations Learning may be targeted to the elite Orange (E-R) Focused on the big picture and on what it would take to win Mid-range planning with a short term performance mindset (e.g. “how we make the quarterly numbers”) Use metrics dashboard to measure operational performance Establish feedback loops Handle complex situations Consider human implications during decision making Learning organization as a means to an end – organization must learn to be competitive Organization values competence and competiveness Planning is a tool and is integrated with the operations Organizational structure follows the business model Career development is part of the culture Use performance measures to drive behavior without human consideration Potential for selected classes as being more important (e.g. Engineering) Comprehensive and well-orchestrated evaluations Green (F-S) Bring macro perspective (beyond the organization) Apply systems thinking to problem solving Deal/manage complexity Decision making is balanced between rationality and humanism Learning has been integrated into the organization’s DNA Planning is synchronized with the organization’s purpose Organizational structure is congruent with purpose and the “natural” flow of responsibilities Equality is paramount and knowledge is viewed as something that all can attain Continuous learning is practiced at all levels of the organization

Jester

The Jester archetype corresponds to the third level of the Relatedness Life Force. Even though it symbolizes lightness and lack of structure, its directive is to seek wholeness by breaking through all restrictions and by dealing with matters that might have been previously ignored or blocked (Pearson, 1997). The Jester is linked with flexibility and being free to connect with a number of options. In an organization, the energy of the Jester brings lightness and fun to the work environment. Organizations like Southwest Airlines bring a sense of fun and joy to their daily activities, not just for the employees but those who come in contact with them. Jester organizations find imaginative ways to solve problems. They are unconventional and creative. Employees embodying the Jester archetype bring a sense of joviality to their activities. The challenge with the Jester is staying centered and focused. There is the possibility of getting carried away by the fun and not accomplish much or not knowing when to tune into a more serious demeanor.

It would be counter for an organization in the D-Q system to have the fully developed Jester characteristics since organizations in this value system seek order and structure and would frown upon individuals stepping out of this norm. E-R is a far more logical system to release the Jester archetype. The competiveness of E-R could be accompanied with the fun and lightness of the Jester. The period of the Internet bubble saw many E-R organizations providing many forms of entertainment and fun environments for their employees. The level of creativity achieved during that time was quite significant. The Internet companies attracted all kinds of individuals, even those that never saw themselves work in high tech organizations. The Jester and the high E-R energy was a powerful combination. With respect to F-S organizations, it is expected that they would be highly receptive of the Jester archetype. Community, love and appreciation are the cornerstones of F-S. Fun and enjoyment could easily complement these attributes. In fact, it would be counterintuitive to find an F-S organization devoid of the Jester archetype. They go hand in hand. Table 14 holds the characteristics of the Jester archetype in the context of the organizational value systems being analyzed in this essay.

Table 14. Correlation of the Jester archetype to the organizational value systems.

 Value System Employees Organization Blue (D-Q) Brainstorming sessions Scheduled events for employee enjoyment See Jester behavior as disruptive Could express a fake sense of enjoyment Organizations that take shortcuts Work is never completed by deadlines Organizations that willingly provide substandard products and services Orange (E-R) Find creative ways of solving problems View work as play Celebrations of milestones and accomplishments High energy teamwork Act free from convention and tradition Have fun, be creative, and be independent Entrepreneurial workgroups Flexible work schedules Fun and energizing workspaces Management brings high energy and provides unconventional leadership Highly creative organization Values innovation and spontaneity No tolerance for bureaucracy Natural affinity for change Fun place to work May lack documentation and some processes May get lost in the fun Green (F-S) “Thinking together” activities Fun integrated into everyday work life See matters in new and unconventional ways Break away from limiting rules Family life integrated with work life Fun and joyful integration of space into the work activities Change culture Loose organizational structure Rules are constantly changing to adapt to new conditions Externally, organization appears irreverent and to some degree eccentric May lack accountability

Magician

The Magician archetype comes after the Hero and Revolutionary archetypes in the Results Life Force. Its focus is change, in particular, second order change. The Magician is the quintessential change agent. It brings the transformative learning and change to an organization. Large changes would be impossible without the Magician archetype. Organizations that struggle with change by experiencing large costs, delays and failures in their change initiatives have immature Magician archetypes. This archetype provides a multiplicity of options, can easily name the problem, define it and manage its complexity. Individuals expressing the Magician archetype are effective communicators, respectful of others and quite capable of conflict resolution. The downside of the Magician is translated into changes that are not necessary, working employees to exhaustion, manipulation, insisting to be cutting edge, and intolerant of non-intellectuals.

The Magician archetype finds expressions in all three systems, D-Q, E-R and F-S. It expresses creativity and change across all systems but at different degrees. In D-Q, the Magician archetype leverages the existing structures to mediate conflict, create win-win scenarios, inspire others, and assist with transitions. D-Q organizations, even in their rigidity, would outpace their counterparts because of the level of flexibility inherent in the Magician. This archetype is the life force behind E-R and F-S. By definition, E-R is all about the change and transformation needed to compete and win. Adaptability is essential to E-R and the Magician archetype provides the energy for this. F-S is about community and social transformation. The F-S system is in a constant state of change and requires significant flexibility to maintain group cohesion. This would not be possible without the Magician being present. Table 15 shows the attributes of the Magician archetype in each of the three values systems: D-Q, E-R and F-S.

Table 15. Correlation of the Magician archetype to the organizational value systems.

 Value System Employees Organization Blue (D-Q) Direct communication Respectful of others Work as a vocation Inspiration to others Evolutionary change agent (first order) Charismatic leader Task-specific workgroups Clear mission and goals Management focus May push too hard on a given direction Potential to exhaust employees Creativity may be impractical to society Efficient organization High integrity and respectful of others Orange (E-R) Win-win problem solving Define multiplicity of options Build and develop teams Work as opportunity to prove and develop self Flexible and adaptable Cope with transitions Revolutionary change agent (second order) Flexible and adaptable Creative Quick to respond to change Share power and responsibilities Clear strategies to win May tend to change for change sake Effective and efficient Rewards innovation Green (F-S) Involves all in problem solving Brings transformative energy Build and develop workgroups with internal and external constituencies Work as opportunity to transcend self Cope with complex social transitions Transformational change agent Handle great complexity Share leadership and responsibilities Clear purpose Continuously adapted strategies Rewards social creativity Respectful of all facets of life

Ruler

The Ruler archetype is responsible for the overall oversight in an organization. It corresponds to the third level of the Stabilizing Life Force. One of its main functions is to ensure all members of the organization are utilized to their fullest. The Ruler energy could be benevolent or authoritarian. It could be flexible and enabling or it could be quite controlling. Individuals expressing this archetype would most likely be in management positions all the way to the CEO. This latter individual would be absolute ruler and his/her power be shared in the manner that he/she conceives it would be best to serve the organization. The Ruler archetype provides the stable force in the company and the level of fairness.

The D-Q system is a natural for the Ruler archetype. In fact, D-Q organizations would not operate without this archetype being in place. The flavor of the Ruler archetype in D-Q would be of the authoritarian kind, ranging from controlling to extremely bureaucratic. In the E-R system, the Ruler archetype would translate into the organization’s leadership model. This archetype would not be authoritarian but would be directive. Power in E-R would be shared among the management team and key individual contributors. E-R organizations getting closer to the F-S range would display more egalitarian characteristics and have a higher degree of inclusivity in the decision making process. Fully developed F-S organizations would have a distributed Ruler archetype. It would be anti-F-S to have centralized power of any kind and this archetype would need to be shared among organizations and individuals. In F-S, leadership and the ruler type of responsibilities would be rotated among individuals in the group. The challenge for F-S organizations is that they do not function well in traditional, highly competitive settings where strong Ruler presence is required. Table 16 shows the correspondence of the Ruler archetype characteristics in relation to the organizational value systems.

Table 16. Correlation of the Ruler archetype to the organizational value systems.

 Value System Employees Organization Blue (D-Q) Authoritative force Instill confidence Oversee task completion Keep balance Watch over goals and strategies Set boundaries and standards Drive processes Follow directives Highly structured Hierarchical Power distribution from the top with minimal to no power at the lower levels Leadership goal is efficiency Processes meant to drive efficiencies and reduce costs Orange (E-R) Set up strategies Drive programs Set benchmarks and targets Oversee strategies Measure performance and drive improvements Oversee changes Ensure resources are available Engage with stated goals and be accountable Less structured Matrix organization with top down structure and cross-functional teams Power is distributed across functions all the way to individual contributors Leadership goal is performance Processes meant to drive performance and help win Green (F-S) Think of the entire group Collectively provide leadership Rotate oversight responsibilities Adapt to new conditions Flat organization with rotating responsibilities Power distributed among all Leadership goal is service and community wellbeing Processes meant to interconnect and provide a value network

The Twelve Archetypes in the Yellow/G-T Value System

As previously stated, there are no documented organizations that have an established G-T (Yellow) value system. Consequently, an analysis of a G-T organization in reference to its archetypes would be purely theoretical. On the other hand, there is a growing population of individuals that are developing and have developed the G-T value system mind capacities and are working in organizations that have to a certain degree G-T type problems (Beck & Cowan, 1996). However, the most likely scenario is for a G-T individual to be working in D-Q, E-R or F-S organizations where they bring their “T” mind capacities to address challenges (life conditions) of the other systems. A G-T individual has the ability to “pose” as a member of the other system and is able to perform quite well in that environment and solve problems in a “yellow” manner. A challenge for G-T individuals would be to be in value systems where they do not have the ability to operate at the full use of their capacities. G-T individuals would find this situation unattainable and most likely leave. People from the G-T value system are at their best in networked environments that have a strong sense of direction (van Marrewijk, 2004).

In terms of archetypal mapping, a correspondence of the twelve organizational archetypes can be drawn with the G-T value system. Table 17 documents this correspondence.

Table 17. Correlation of the twelve archetypes with the G-T value system.

 Creator The creative energy in G-T is strong. Systems thinking is a natural ability of G-T. A group of G-T individuals would solve problems in a fraction of the time compared to the other systems. G-T people feel comfortable tackling problems for which they are not experts. This comes from their systemic perspective and approach. Any type of situation is approached in the same manner by G-T individuals, allowing them to be involved with many situations. Sage G-T individuals amass knowledge to be applied somewhere. Ivory towers are not their preferred pulpit. G-T people need to be in the middle of the action, preferably hands-on. They are not CEOs but could be behind them providing the roadmap. They are visionaries and they embody what van Marrewijk calls the “Connected Leader” (2004). This type of leader can link various qualities and theories into a coherent approach. To G-T, leadership is no longer about what people do but who people are. This version of the Sage archetype is in line with Bohm’s (2004) and Jaworski’s (1998) view of a leader that has moved into a state of beingness, past the consideration of doing and acting. G-T individuals are completely existential. Jester Given that G-T people are past the point of fear, they do not take themselves seriously or get entangled in worldly matters. They engage and are passionate about what they do, but are detached of the outcome. Their lifestyle is aligned with the archetype of the Jester. G-T individuals have what they need and maintain their focus on the discovery of their inner self and their path to wholeness. Magician Along with the Seeker archetype, the Magician runs strong in G-T. These individuals are transformative agents in any environment. The leadership style described in the Sage archetype above allows G-Ts to bring a whole “system” into conversations, problem solving, and value creation. These individuals are natural change leaders and seek the higher purpose of everything the engage in. Ruler The Ruler archetype is not preferred by G-T. Individuals in this value system recognize the need for all of the positive characteristics of the Ruler archetype. However, their preferred mode of operation is in applied knowledge. They are most at home with the Seeker, Creator, Sage and Magician archetypes. Like in the case of the Hero, the G-T individuals would embody the Ruler archetype only if it allows them to work for the greater good. They do not enjoy the aspect of “ruling.” Hierarchy, titles and roles do not hold intrinsic value for G-Ts. They see these organizational structures simply as containers of energy that may be necessary to achieve a given set of goals. Ruling is seen as a means to an end. This is a key difference between G-T and F-S. The latter value system would very much want to do away with the Ruler archetype. G-Ts sees it as necessary and would aim to optimize it and make benevolent.

WayThink: a Short Case Study

Background

The author conducted a case study to investigate the organizational archetypes present in an organization and to correlate them to the spiral dynamics value systems. This study was conducted in April of 2011 using a set of questions designed to perform an organizational cultural assessment through individual interviews. A small company in the San Francisco Bay Area volunteered to be the subject of the case study. Eight individuals from this company participated in the interviews, including the CEO.

WayThink, Inc. (not their real name) is a Microsoft technology-focused consulting company that leverages local presence with offshore delivery to provide cost effective solutions. These solution offerings include portals and collaboration, business intelligence (BI), and Web-based and customized application development. The company works with various customers across multiple industries.

At the time of the case study, WayThink had 150 employees. The company was founded in 2007. It is headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area with development centers in Hyderabad and Bangalore, India. The majority of the employees are in the India locations, but the larger portion of WayThink’s clients are in the US. The personnel located in the United States include the CEO and the senior management team. The staff in India are the development arm and for the most part includes software engineers and project managers. A small number of consultants are also in the US and engaged at various client sites. Their goal is to provide staff augmentation services and bring additional revenue to WayThink along with a relationship that could expand into the company’s core business.

Appendix A shows the questions that were used in each one-hour interview with a cross section of the organizations at WayThink. Eight individuals participated in the interviews. Their roles appear in Appendix B. The interview questions were open-ended and allowed each participant to provide the level of detail they were comfortable with. The author noted that after the 4thinterview, the answers about the company’s archetypes started to converge. WayThink’s stated values were utilized during the interviews as a way to draw out the Gravesian value systems inherent in the various subcultures. Given the company’s locations and focus, it became clear that several subcultures were present, not just across role boundaries but also geo-cultural.

Values

There are three stated values at WayThink: a) people first, b) technology leadership, c) execution excellence. To WayThink, people first means that customers are successful because of the talent and creativity of their people. They value each individual for their unique abilities and provide them an environment to excel. On the other hand, technology leadership means that WayThink is dedicated to growing superior talent in the Microsoft technology. They believe this is imperative for their customer’s success and the company’s growth. Last, execution excellence translates into WayThink delivering value through a set of tools, processes and templates that result in predictable and repeatable global delivery of solutions for their customers.

Analysis of WayThink’s Values through the Archetype Lens

The questions used in the interviews explored each of the twelve organizational archetypes. The analysis that follows is grouped using the Corlett & Pearson Life Forces.

People Life Force

All interviewees used the “family” metaphor to describe the company. This “family” is caring and supportive and provides a home and the security all employees need. Generally, people are treated with respect and respect each other. Conversations are open and frank but not contentious. Ideas are respected regardless of situation and hierarchy in the organization. At WayThink, consensus is the decision-making norm. There is both informal and formal recognition in place via their “Value Awards.” The work environment is positive and supportive. Flexibility to work from home is available and fully exercised. Life-work balance is a key practice at WayThink. This is particularly important since India-based employees need to work late night with their US counterparts and customers encroaching into their personal time. Workmates have fun together and celebrate birthdays and holidays. This is principally true at the Bangalore site. There is a fundamental trust in management. What the author found is limited personal responsibility and accountability for the company results and its development. Also, conflict resolution seems to be lacking. People have difficulty confronting each other. Given WayThink’s great desire to reach consensus, this often times results in “group think.”

From a People Life Force perspective, WayThink has a positive Everyday person (Orphan) archetype. Employees have healthy expectations of what the company should provide. There are no distracting or limiting orphan behaviors. Although some employees translate the “people first” value into an excuse to have more personal time and have expectations for greater salaries and promotions, there is a general appreciation for what the company is providing. The Lover archetype is partially developed in terms of the respect between the company and employees and between each other. Also, there is exploration of each other’s ideas. Mentoring is a strong practice at WayThink, which indicates strong relating between experienced and less experienced employees. The author was able to pick up a fair amount of passion from all interviewees, which is a Lover archetype attribute. What is missing from this archetype is conflict resolution. WayThink does not seem to be able to handle interaction when deep conflict exists and lets senior management deal with the problem. Regarding the Jester archetype, the company appears to be a fun workplace. Employees celebrate all holidays and personal events. The Bangalore office seems to be one with the most Jester-like energy. The author visited this location and was able to evidence this light heartedness in place. Also, the work-life balance practice by the company, including the ability to work from home, indicates a well-developed Jester archetype.

Results Life Force

The Hero is the archetypal model for the best-performing employees. Reward systems are based on the effort aligned with company values. Most projects require heroics to complete—more than anyone would like. The CTO is the model Hero; he saves the day for everyone and he is highly regarded for this. There is no counter culture established although everyone believes that “speaking your mind” is allowed. People can provide opinions, but “group-think” typically sets in. Staffing changes are hard to make, particularly with the established personnel—no hard calls are made. The WayThink CEO would like to have more counter-ideas to increase performance in contrast to the politeness, which is normal to the culture. In addition, everyone would like to have more “magicians,” but there is only one recognized Magician present, the CTO. Efforts have been made to grow the Magician archetype population and its capabilities. However, no Magician archetype is fully present at this company yet. Transformation activities are mainly focused on customer engagement but none internally.

Learning Life Force

At WayThink, people are content and enjoy being part of the company. The work environment is positive, optimistic and supportive. Employees are expected to learn and in turn they expect the company to provide tools and opportunities. There are no set learning requirements, but learning is included in employees’ development plan. This plan calls for each individual to be at least 50% responsible for their own learning activities. However, there is no evidence that strong independent learning is taking place. This is consistent with the Innocent archetype where employees expect to be directed on what to learn and when.

All interviewees stated that the reason for not learning as much at WayThink is the workload. All non-administrative personnel are engaged in customer activities, leaving no room for learning. Again, this is consistent with the Innocent archetype where employees do as they are told. Some individuals have been encouraged to pursue independent development initiatives. This provides a sign of the Explorer archetype, at least in concept. The heavy work schedule and the desire for the company to optimize every resource for revenue generation, leaves little or no time for exploration (Seeker archetype behavior). Paradoxically, this goes against the company value of technical leadership.

At the Sage level of the learning life force, the author found the CEO and CTO displaying attributes of this archetype. These individuals are constantly learning, appear to be systems thinkers, and have strong analytical abilities. The challenge they face is finding the balance between revenue and learning. At present, they are engaged in maximizing dollars per employee. The conundrum the CEO and CTO face is how much more revenue they would be able to make if they were to develop the Explorer archetype and increase the overall initiative and innovation in the company.

Stabilizing Life Force

WayThink provides for the wellbeing of its employees. The company delivers a competitive salary and health benefits, and comfortable workplaces at all of its sites. The workspace is practical and conducive to productivity. Employees see WayThink as a good and generous Caregiver. At this company, people are free to express their individuality and personal values. The view of the company by all interviewees is that WayThink is a caring family. This is demonstrated by care and support for each other. Interviewees provided ample examples demonstrating care between the company and its employees and for each other.

The creative process at WayThink has been evolving from simple staff augmentation engagements to developing their own intellectual property. As their engagements became more complex, the company was able to capitalize and create reusable applications. This creative transition is embryonic but has solid potential. Through it, WayThink is demonstrating growth in the Creator archetype. Ultimately, this type of innovation would create more leveraged revenue streams perhaps allowing the company to make the time for learning.

From a Ruler archetype perspective, WayThink has very few repeatable processes and almost no internal systems. It is operating as a startup even though it has three sites and over 150 employees. Their execution excellence value is at odds with how the company behaves internally.  Although the developers provide creative solutions for their customers, they do so with minimal documentation and very little knowledge sharing. This significantly affects WayThink’s sustainability by making “tribal” knowledge the means for how information is accumulated and used in the organization.

The WayThink Sub-cultures and Their Value Systems

This subsection explores the value systems present at WayThink as expressed by its different subcultures. Schein (2010) states that subcultures emerge as a company matures and establishes differentiation in values. This differentiation can be functional or occupational, geographic, technological, divisional and hierarchical. Through the interviews, the author was able to distinguish value system difference at the geographical and hierarchical subcultures.  Table 18 provides the definition of each of the identified subcultures at WayThink.

Table 18. Definition of the subcultures at WayThink. These subcultures span geographies (US and India, and within India), and hierarchical boundaries (levels of management and employee classification).

 Subculture Location Description Founders US – Bay Area Two of the 4 original founders remain with the company (CEO and CTO). This subculture is the ultimate decision maker. It sets direction for the company and acts as the father figure. Management US – Bay Area, Hyderabad, Bangalore Leadership subculture. Collaborates well with individual contributors. Viewed as accessible and supportive. US-based personnel US – Bay Area Smaller team. Not socially connected. This is a task oriented team. They feel responsible for the wellbeing of the rest of the company. This is the face to the customer and where the engagements are generated. US-employees in staff augmentation roles US – Spread across multiple states Small group of individuals that are assigned to customers but are not integrated into project teams. This is the “outsider” subculture because their focus is to augment customer staff and not practice WayThink’s core mission. Hyderabad site Hyderabad, India Delivery team. Subculture aligned with local cultural values and modalities. Conservative, collective-oriented, and quiet. Bangalore site Bangalore, India Delivery team. Subculture aligned with budding metropolitan culture in Bangalore.  Entrepreneurial, more individualistic, more open to outsiders, and livelier.

The author analyzed the value systems of the WayThink subcultures. This analysis is based on the answers provided by the interviewees directly regarding the company values of people first, technology leadership and execution excellence. The provided answers during the interviews stated value coherence (values are practiced as intended) and non-coherence (espoused values are not practiced or they are negatively constellated). From an organizational psyche perspective, the author was looking for the “complexes.” The language of ECLET was used to express them.

Table 19 shows the primary and secondary ECLET value systems for WayThink. Graves (Lee, 2009) posited that most people and organizations straddle two value systems, one with a social center of locus and the other with an individual one. In his research he found very few exceptions of individuals centered on a single value system. Graves named this centered state “nodal.” The primary system for a subculture corresponds to its dominant set of life conditions and life capacities. This value system is for the entire subculture and does not differentiate the mind capacities of each individual. The secondary system is subservient to the first but shows a different set of coping capabilities when life conditions requires them.

Table 19. Mapping of the WayThink subcultures to their primary and secondary ECLET value systems

 Subculture Primary ECLET Value System Secondary ECLET Value System Description Founders Orange (E-R) Green (F-S) Founders are completely entrepreneurial with a strong sense of community, teamwork, unity and global success. Management Orange (E-R) Blue (D-Q) Management team follows US organizational values and has the typical Orange stage values. India management team has a more traditional perspective and a stronger sense of hierarchy. US-based personnel Orange (E-R) Blue (D-Q) All US-based personnel is consistent with the US model of values and meaning making of typical hi-tech US companies (E-R/D-Q) US-employees in staff augmentation roles Blue (D-Q) Blue (D-Q) This group is primarily under the direction of the customer and does not have the opportunity to express E-R values. This would be the one “nodal” subculture centered on the D-Q value system. Hyderabad site Blue (D-Q) Orange (E-R) More traditional site based on local social values (purple-blue stage). Less exposure to orange value system. Bangalore site Orange (E-R) Blue (D-Q) Subculture based on the emerging value system in this now metropolitan city. Traditions are observed but less than the orange success-driven values.

The Correlation of the Value Systems to the Archetypes

A correlation of the value systems to the twelve archetypes is provided in this section. The identified subcultures are mapped to each archetype and grouped by the life forces defined by Corlett & Pearson (2003).

People Life Force

As previously described, WayThink has a mature Everyday Person archetype, a developing Lover archetype and a strong Jester one. The people life force is the company’s strength. This can be attributed to an influx of mind capacities from the founders who operate in an E-R-F-S capacity. Their entrepreneurship and drive is balanced by a strong sense of community and people wellbeing. They have established complexes (basic assumptions) that give way to respect, integrity, work-life balance, flexibility and collaboration. Table 20 shows the correspondence of the people life force archetypes with each of the subcultures at WayThink connected to their value systems.

Table 20. Correspondence of the WayThink subcultural value systems to the people life force archetypes.

 Subculture ECLET Value System Pair Everyday Person (Orphan) Lover Jester Founders Orange-Green (E-R – F-S) Founders act as the company community caretakers with a clear entrepreneurial mission. The company has a strong sense of family unity. They model respect for all employees, customers and partners. Form strong bonds with all employees. Open to flexible workplace. Allow people to work at their own pace. Do not actively promote fun in the workplace. Management Orange-Blue (E-R – D-Q) Older siblings following parent’s direction and leading by example. Same level of respect as founders. Less relational. Drive “group-think.” Exhibit high degree of passion. Receptive to flexibility. India management support fun and enjoyment at work. US-based personnel Orange-Blue (E-R – D-Q) Same as above Same as above Accept flexibility but not enough social integration for fun/enjoyable activities. US-employees in staff augmentation roles Blue-Blue (D-Q – D-Q) Community members seeking Everyday Person (Orphan) structure Less integrated into culture. Need to adapt to customer’s culture and values. Disconnected from daily activities of the company and thus not connected to this archetype. Hyderabad site Blue-Orange (D-Q – E-R) Same as above with a shade of independence Respectful members of community. Strong bonds along local cultural lines. Work within flexibility parameters. Some level of fun and enjoyment but within local community. Bangalore site Orange-Blue (E-R – D-Q) Seeking independence from parental controls but work well within boundaries Strong bonds with all members. Open to external cultures. Friendly and warm toward others. Well adapted to flexibility. Most active sub-culture in having fun and enjoying others. Open to outsiders and have them join in.

Results Life Force

WayThink has been in operation for four years. It has experienced growth year to year, accumulating repeat customers and larger and more important ones. Personnel have grown from a few to over 150. WayThink’s ability to achieve results is clear. Their results model has been structured around the Hero archetype. Each person in the company is expected to sacrifice self to keep the company going. The formula has been to get customers, work hard, earn money through engagements and hope for repeat business.

The CEO in particular is worried about the simple revenue formula used by the company as their market differentiation is solely based on their reputation of working hard. He and a few of the WayThink leaders sense that they have to provide more transformative and purposeful solutions and for that they need to transform themselves. The challenge for the company is the underdeveloped Revolutionary and Magician archetypes. All interviewees in the case study acknowledged the lack of counter ideas (Revolutionary) and a slim number of magicians (primarily just the CTO) to work on highly complex problems requiring more developed life conditions.

Most of the subcultures at WayThink exhibit strong E-R values. Only the staff augmentation personnel and the Hyderabad site show a stronger D-Q than E-R. This makes the company competitive in their field but limited by the lack of the Revolutionary and Magician archetypes. Table 21 describes the state of each archetype in the results life forces for the subcultures identified at WayThink.

Table 21. Correspondence of the WayThink subcultural value systems to the results life force archetypes.

 Subculture ECLET Value System Pair Hero Revolutionary Magician Founders Orange-Green (E-R – F-S) Archetype well developed and consistent with both ECLET pairs This subculture embodies the only fully manifested Revolutionary archetype The Magician archetype is only manifested with this subculture. Management Orange-Blue (E-R – D-Q) Archetype well developed and consistent with both ECLET stages Mostly blue Revolutionary archetype Concept of archetype exists with a few individuals developing it US-based personnel Orange-Blue (E-R – D-Q) E-R value system is less developed than above subcultures Archetype is mostly D-Q but to a lesser degree than management Stronger sense for archetype but not developed US-employees in staff augmentation roles Blue-Blue (D-Q – D-Q) Archetype consistent with nodal D-Q value system No signs of this archetype No signs of this archetype Hyderabad site Blue-Orange (D-Q – E-R) Archetype mostly D-Q with emerging E-R Archetype not detected Concept of archetype exists but no one is developing it Bangalore site Orange-Blue (E-R – D-Q) Developing E-R archetype from mostly D-Q values Emerging archetype but not strong enough to make significant difference Concept of archetype exists with a few individuals developing it

Learning Life Force

As previously analyzed for the archetypes in the learning life force, WayThink is concentrated on the Innocent archetype. Its main underlying assumption that the “company is still a startup and must work hard to stay in business” limits it from taking steps to allow the Explorer archetype develop. The absence of opportunities in becoming a learning organization goes against one of the company goals: technology leadership.

In looking at the value systems for each subculture, the D-Q presence in most groups presents the life conditions that the company must be the one presenting the opportunities for learning. Even though the practice of including learning as part of development plan is present, its reality is shadowed by the need to keep everyone engaged. At present, WayThink learns from its engagements but does not take further steps to accumulate and leverage this knowledge in a systemic way. The company’s Explorer and Sage archetypes are immature. An option they have is to increase the E-R value system in their management team and in the technical leadership of the company. This would potentially create energy about self-learning and exploration. Table 22 shows the correlation of the learning archetypes to the subculture value systems.

Table 22. Correspondence of the WayThink subcultural value systems to the learning life force archetypes.

 Subculture ECLET Value System Pair Innocent Explorer (Seeker) Sage Founders Orange-Green (E-R – F-S) Archetype consistent with entrepreneurial E-R and egalitarian F-S Fully manifested to seek specialization, market opportunities and recognition Well developed within this subculture. Wisdom focused on benefit of the whole. Management Orange-Blue (E-R – D-Q) Balanced expectations between company and individual Subculture with greatest desire to develop deep expertise Individual wisdom not integrated into the company yet US-based personnel Orange-Blue (E-R – D-Q) Accepting of company’s limitations and grateful for what is provided Same as above Same as above but to a lesser degree US-employees in staff augmentation roles Blue-Blue (D-Q – D-Q) Deeply rely on company support. Do not enjoy benefits of being “inside.” Archetype development limited to challenges provided by customer Archetype not required for job function Hyderabad site Blue-Orange (D-Q – E-R) Higher reliance on company for wellbeing and direction. Archetype development constrained by job assignments Technical wisdom as an objective but systems not in place Bangalore site Orange-Blue (E-R – D-Q) Reliance on company but higher entrepreneurial spirit Greater desire to gain deeper expertise. Need time and management support to develop. Same as above

Stabilizing Life Force

WayThink has a strong Caregiver archetype and limited development in its Creator and Ruler archetypes. These limitations present a challenge in this organization primarily around creativity. The creativity archetype complements exploration, and as noted in the previous section, that is also an archetype that is underdeveloped.

The author theorizes that a driver for this limited Explorer/Creator archetype is the lack of a company purpose. As stated in the summary about WayThink, this company has well-articulated values and a caring culture. However, its current purpose is to stay in business and do well for their customers. This is not a purpose that is of primary importance to the social system they operate in. Long term success and longevity seem to be associated with purpose that is intrinsic to the wellbeing of a social system. For example, IBM started with the purpose of automating computational tasks that would enable humans do what they could not do before. This overarching purpose has made IBM a household name and a revered worldwide business. WayThink does not have a purpose that goes beyond staying in business by “doing a job.”

There is nothing inherently limiting about WayThink’s value systems as it relates to purpose. There is enough E-R in the management team that would allow them to respond to any purpose set by the CEO and his trusted leaders. He and the CTO have F-S mind capacities that would allow them to connect to the needs of the social system they operate in and translate them into a strong and overarching purpose. The WayThink CEO engaged the author after an initial report of the case study was provided to him. His first question to the author about the case study findings was the company’s lack of socially impactful purpose. This reflective question shows that the CEO is able to connect with this concept and may result in a positive change.

As noted, the Ruler archetype at WayThink is limited. The processes of the company are embryonic and there is not enough energy behind institutionalizing them. Consequently, the company has limited systems and metrics. This situation is counter to the E-R energy where systems and measurements are the norm. However, as expressed earlier in this document, the immature Creator archetype in the E-R system would avoid processes and focus on just doing the work. This behavior is further cemented by the strong D-Q value system of the delivery team in India which unless directed would not naturally embark on systemic behavior. Incidentally, WayThink’s third value, execution excellence, is predicated in a strong Ruler archetype of the E-R kind. The E-R value system is present in the company but the archetype is underdeveloped. Table 23 shows the correspondence of the stabilizing life force archetypes with the value systems for each subculture at WayThink.

Table 23. Correspondence of the WayThink subcultural value systems to the stabilizing life force archetypes.

 Subculture ECLET Value System Pair Caregiver Creator Ruler Founders Orange-Green (E-R – F-S) Role of main provider and Caregiver. Believe in community and team. Drive market specialization in alignment with E-R values. No view into social system. Desire and drive for processes and systems. Actions have not caught up with desires yet. Lack process roadmap. Management Orange-Blue (E-R – D-Q) Next in the chain of provider. Caregiver role is more structured. Focused on solution delivery. Less time for entrepreneurial and creative activities. Main control figure in company. Struggle with lack of processes and systems. US-based personnel Orange-Blue (E-R – D-Q) Balance expectation of needs vs. what company can afford. Emerging creative force for company. Expose to customer & market needs. Recognize need for processes and systems. Improvise some to get by. US-employees in staff augmentation roles Blue-Blue (D-Q – D-Q) Need company to provide every necessity. Exposed to effects from customer company. Task level creativity under direction of customer project / IT need Subject to controls from customer company Hyderabad site Blue-Orange (D-Q – E-R) Expect needs provided by company. Content with what is available. Creative activities limited to technical and project contribution. Follow rules and expectations from management. Cannot address process needs alone. Bangalore site Orange-Blue (E-R – D-Q) Same as above Same as above with larger entrepreneurial influence due to local culture Same as above

Conclusions and Further Research

Organizations like WayThink have a degree of awareness about what makes them successful and what limits them. No organization wants to fail, yet many of the behaviors in a company go unexamined because they are taken for granted as part of the culture. Schein (2010) states that these underlying assumptions are responsible for the fabric of culture and comprise the shared experiences as organizations learn how to deal with problems.

Carl Jung spent most of his life researching and mapping the human psyche. He believed that most of the responses to life conditions came from the depths of the unconscious (Stein, 1998). Until recently, the organizational unconscious was not explored. From all of the available literature, Corlett & Pearson (2003) take on a depth psychology approach to the organizational psyche and postulate a model, based on Jung’s, that explains how an organization behaves and deals with problems. However, these authors do not look deeper into the formation of underlying assumptions or as they referred in their mapping of the organizational psyche: complexes.

This research connects the work from Dr. Graves on the Emergent Cyclical Levels of Existence Theory (ECLET) with the organizational unconscious. ECLET provides a framework for contextualizing human behavior, and as applied here, inside organizations. This framework stratifies values systems that connect life conditions with mind capacities. Organizations by the nature of their business have a given set of life conditions that are global for all organizations in a given social system. The mind capacities are the values that each individual “brings to the table” and by association with others form the collective mind capacities for the organization.

Graves defined ECLET as a bio-psycho-social framework. The value systems in this framework are the equivalent of Schein’s underlying assumptions and Corlette & Pearson’s organizational complexes. Beck & Cowan (1996) refer to these value systems as the fabric of culture and organizational life.

Understanding the organizational unconscious and in particular the operation of archetypes partially solves the unknowns of the source of culture inside an organization. The contextualization of the ECLET framework further clarifies how archetype-driven complexes form in different value systems. The Hero in the blue (D-Q) system acts differently than the Hero in the orange (E-R) system. They both originate from the psychic energy of the Hero archetype yet they constellate differently based on the life conditions present and the mind capacities of individuals.

This essay provides an introduction to organizational depth psychology and spiral dynamics as a means to understand how culture is formed and how it unconsciously affects the behaviors of an organization. The WayThink case study gives a glimpse of what is possible to uncover using these theories. Much has not been addressed and can be the source for ongoing research. For one, there are no extensive case studies related to organizational archetypes. In contrast, spiral dynamics, because of its popularity, has wide-ranging fieldwork, a practice community, training and ongoing research. However, spiral dynamics does not focus on the sources of behavior as organizational depth psychology does.

The author considers that further research is warranted to validate the integration of organizational depth psychology with ECLET in order to yield assessment and intervention methods that can be replicated and useful in the understanding of organizational culture and its change. The objective of the research should be to device assessments and interventions that go at the heart of organizational culture to help with its evolution from limiting behaviors to ones that serve the organization’s purpose.

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Appendix A

The following are the questions used during the WayThink case study interviews. Not all questions were asked to all participants. About half of the interviewees were asked the questions related to purpose and values and the other half were asked the ones on organizational archetypes.

General

1. Please state your relationship with the company. How long have you been with WayThink and in what roles?
2. What is the scope of your current role

Purpose

1. What is the purpose of WayThink?
2. How does this purpose fit in the broader context of the industry? How about in the broader context of society?
3. How are employees aligned with this purpose? What efforts are made to bring awareness to this purpose for all employees?

Values

1. Define the people first company value. How is this value practiced? What practices and behaviors counter this value? What do employees understand or not understand about this value?
2. Define the technology leadership company value. How is this value practiced? What practices and behaviors counter this value? What do employees understand or not understand about this value?
3. Define the execution excellence company value. How is this value practiced? What practices and behaviors counter this value? What do employees understand or not understand about this value?
4. Are any of these values not congruent with the company’s purpose?
5. Are the company values communicated and practiced? Are there any that are not and why not?
6. What are the underlying assumptions at WayThink? Underlying assumptions are the unspoken and unquestioned values that drive behavior and are passed along to all new members.

Organizational Archetypes – People

1. What metaphor would you use to describe the relationship between the company and its employees?
2. How does management relate to its stakeholders: customers, employees and partners?
3. Using a metaphor again, please describe the relationship between employees. Are there differences between the US and India, and between the sites in India?
4. Does a sense of community exist in this organization? What actions support that community nature? What actions inhibit it?
5. If the company was giving out academy awards for teamwork, what would the top 3 categories be? Would you have an easy time finding nominees?

Organizational Archetypes – Results

1. In the context of WayThink, what does “winning the game” mean?
2. Is the word “sacrifice” in your corporate lexicon and if so, what does it mean?
3. Are counterculture actions allowed at WayThink and if so, why and when are they appropriate?
4. Is there a hero at WayThink? Please describe this person. Is there an anti-hero that could also be effective?
5. When you think of individuals in your organization that can transform what you do, do you think of them as magicians? What “powers” do they possess that make them magicians?

Organizational Archetypes – Learning

1. How does the company as a whole learn?
2. Are employees responsible for their own learning? Are they aware of this? How is this awareness instilled?
3. Are employees encouraged to take risks? Are they rewarded for this? Has anyone been punished for having taken a big risk?
4. Do you have one or more “sage” in your organization? What would make a person a sage? How is this person regarded?
5. Is wisdom a goal for anyone or any one organization?

Organizational Archetypes – Stabilizing

1. What does the company provide for the wellbeing of the employees? Is this enough? Is there something missing?
2. What gets measured at WayThink? What is not measured that you believe should be measured?
3. What systems are in place that work well? What systems are missing?
4. Would you describe the organizational structure as hierarchical, divisional, cross-functional, or something else?
5. What would be the ideal organizational structure for WayThink and why?

Appendix B

The following table shows the roles of the individuals that participated in the WayThink case study along with their location and value system subculture. Names are not provided for anonymity. The order of the roles in the table reflects the sequence of the interviews. Interview duration ranged from 1-2 hours. India interviews were conducted over the telephone and the ones in San Francisco Bay Area took place in person