time. love. creativity. death. spirit.

Spiral Dynamics – mastering values, leadership and change

by DonEdwardBeck Christopher C Cowan

The ultimate goal is the overall health of the Spiral and the
well-being of each of us that are riders on it together.

Für eine kurze, fokussierte, prägnante und übersichtliche Zusammen-
fassung der Spiral Dynamic Kernideen siehe Marc's Website: Marc's SDi Kernideen




5 Deep Schichten


  1. Handlungen und Verhalten
  2. Systeme und Strukturen
  3. Weltsichten. Gedanken (Mind) der Menschen und Art und Weise des Denkens
  4. Genetische- und Memetische Codes
  5. Umweltbedingungen (Intern/Extern)

Seven principles of core intelligence of the Spiral


  1. Humans possess the capacity to create new v-MEMEs
  2. Life Conditions awaken vMEMEs which may emerge, surge, regress or fade in response
  3. vMEMEs zig-zag between Express-self and Sacrifice-self themes
  4. vMEMEs emerge along the Spiral in a wave-like fashion
  5. vMEMEs spiral up and down through levels of complexity
  6. vMEMEs coexist within our «onion»-like profiles
  7. vMEMEs cluster in Tiers of Six along the Spiral

Humanity's 8 major global life conditions


Problems of existence/Life conditions

  • If the world is…
  • Lc8: …a single living entitiy
  • Lc7: …in some danger of collapse
  • Lc6: …the habitat of all humanity
  • Lc5: …full of viable alternatives
  • Lc4: …divinely controlled and guilt driven
  • Lc3: …rough and hard like a jungle
  • Lc2: …mysterious and frightening
  • Lc1: …a state of nature

Appropriate Coping System/Organism

  • …then effective people…
  • …seek the order beneath earth's chaos.
  • …stand alone to learn how to be free.
  • …join communities to experience growth.
  • …pragmatically test options for success.
  • …obey rightfull higher authority.
  • …fight to survive in spite of others.
  • …placate spirits and join together for safety.
  • …act much like other animals.



Six conditions for vMEME change


  1. Potential in the individual or the collective mind/brain for more complex levels of thinking
  2. Solutions found to current existence problems at the present level
  3. Dissonance and uncertainty about the fit of present thinking with the realities at hand
  4. Barriers to change (both extrinsic and internal) identified and resolved
  5. Insight into alternatives and viable options as a change to strategy
  6. Consolidation and Support during the transition and Consolidation of the new thinking

Five phases in the pathway of vMEMEs change


  1. Alpha phase
  2. Beta phase
  3. Gamma-phase (Gamma-Trap)
  4. Delta-phase
  5. The new Alpha

Seven variations of the degree of change


  1. Fine-TUNE (Horizontal Change)
  2. Expand-OUT (Horizontal Change)
  3. Stretch-DOWN (Oblique Change)
  4. Stretch-UP (Oblique Change)
  5. Break-OUT (Vertical Change)
  6. UP-Shift (Vertical Change)
  7. Quantum (Vertical Change)

Siehe auch Marc's Version:
  • CV1 Fine-tune >Trim the Tabs
  • CV2 Reform >Re-shuffle the Deck
  • CV3 Upgrade >Improve on Givens
  • CV4 Down-shift >Regress to Cope
  • CV5 Up-stretch >Progress to Deal
  • CV6 Break-out >Attack the Barriers
  • CV7 Up-Shift >Morph to the next
  • CV8 Quantum Change of Epoch Proportions

Seven marks of the Spiral Wizard


  1. Spiral Wizards think in OPEN Systems rather than CLOSED final states
  2. Spiral Wizards live and work within natural flows and rhythms
  3. Spiral Wizards' ultimate goal is to keep the spiral healthy
  4. Spiral Wizards interact comfortably with many conceptual worlds
  5. Spiral Wizards possess a full compliment of resources, strategies and skills
  6. Spiral Wizards are systemic thinkers and integrative problem solvers
  7. Spiral Wizards possess a unique blend of personal beliefs and values

vMEME detection: A check-list of recognition principles


  1. Step outside your own vMEME profile
  2. Identify the prevailing life conditions
  3. Ask the «why?» question.
  4. Different vMEMEs may brighten in different situations
  5. Realize that an organization is also a mixture of vMEMEs, not a simple type
  6. Remember that vMEMEs ebb and flow as conditions get better or worse

Apply the universal «P-O-A» to build positive relationships


  1. Politeness
  2. Openness
  3. Autocracy

The Spiral Wizard's options for situational intervention


  1. Just walk away
  2. Reframe the conditions
  3. Connect Ideas with vMEMEs

Rules of thumb for spiral leaders


  1. If the critical mass of thinking within followers is more complex on the Spiral than proposed leadership, that leadership can only take control through intimidation or force. Once it grasps power, the more complex thinkers will go into hiding, exile or premature graves.
  2. If the followers are in Closed or Arrested conditions (Change Condition 1) at a specific level on the Spiral, the leadership approach needs to be calibrated for that identical level – BLUE for BLUE, GREEN/orange for GREEN/orange and red/BLUE for red/BLUE. The leader may be Arrested but must not be Closed or the enterprise will inevitably collapse when Life Conditions change.
  3. If the followers are in the Open condition, the optimum management ist about half a step beyond their position on the Spiral.
  4. If the group is highly diversified, leadership must come from the most complex system available in the group. YELLOW in the Open condition though has the built-in flexibility to shift into congruence with lower systems on the Spiral when appropriate.
  5. If the leadership model is too far ahead on the Spiral it will destabilize and overwhelm the group or leave them asking «Where's this idiot coming from? What a flake. Does anybody know what he's talking about?».

Leadership assumptions of the core vMEMEs: an anatomy


Spiral Alignment: Streaming Visions into Reality


[…] «The ‹Quality Circles› (QC) movement, ignited in the early 1980's with great fanfare, flamed out at the end of that decade. […] Most applications largely ignored the humanity factor in their slash-and-burn activities. Downsizing efforts are being revisited, too. While the proud visionaries at the top and worker-bees on the production floor remain, the people who linked them in the mundane middle are gone. The resulting ‹self-managed teams› do not know how to self-manage, plan, or connect.» Thus working cultures are alienated and smug vMEMEs backfired.

«If you are serious about change, be prepared to move beyond manipulation, authoritarian mandates and even consensus-driven group process. The Spiral's framework lets you construct designs that fit who people are and the work they do. The ‹run 'em thru the carwash mode› ist out; detailing is in. Even the best approaches to comprehensive strategic planning miss the core mechanisms that link everything together. To uncover them, add the customizing features of Spiral Dynamics to the process. Then put your energy into the careful alignment of people with jobs, functions with outcomes and styles with systems. Get down to the vMEMEs of the matter.»

The Design and Alignment of ‹Natural› Systems with Power and Precision

The Spiral Wizards' Tools

  1. Understand Organizations' vMEME profiles, motivation menus and leadership patterns framed through Spiral Dynamics.
  2. Streams (Spiral alignment)
  3. Templates (Spiral integration)

The Spiral Wizards' Methods

  1. The Design Formula: Framing the right questions (before giving premature answers!)
    HOW should ... WHO manage ... WHOM ... to do WHAT?
  2. The Plumb Line Process:
    •job requirements (the work to be done)
    •people profiles (define the people profiles who perform the job requirements naturally)
    •recruitmanet and selection (search and hire people that correspond best to the defined people profiles)
    •placement (place not only the right people into the right jobs but build also the job around the person)
    •Training and Development (T&D) (tailor to the natural way people learn)
    •Management ()

10 Elements in the streams Sequence (p.154 – p.171)

  1. Decide what business you really are in
  2. Chart big picture patterns and flows in the milieu
  3. Take inventory of resources, functional capacities and life-cycle stages
  4. Establish set-points, locate flywheels and map the organization's psychological ‹DNA›
  5. Develop and propagate a strategic vision
  6. Connect everything to everything else
  7. Design an ideal hypothetical model fitting structures to functions
  8. Liberate, realign and reshape current systems to fit new model
  9. Place the right person into the right job with the right tools and support
  10. Build in ongoing realignment processes for continuous shifts and changes

Spiral integration: Power and precision in organization design and transformation (p.172 – p.194)


  1. The X template: The most natural forms and flows for the critical functions



GREEN – Human Bond (The Relativistic vMeme) (p.260 – p.)




Siehe auch:

-- RogerLeMarie - 22 Jun 2004
Topic revision: r21 - 10 Apr 2007, RogerLeMarie
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