I often found myself in the role of a bridge builder throughout my life, bridge builder between different professional groups, between teams in organizations, between developers and business or users, between people with different world views, between different generations….

Building a bridge means trying to empathize with different viewpoints and perspectives (independent of my own viewpoint) so that I can support finding a common denominator or a way forward that is acceptable to both sides.

This is exactly what would be urgently needed in today’s discussions around the virus and vaccination.

Again and again, when polarized viewpoints clashed in my environment, I tried to find a way to build a bridge, to open both sides to at least a small insight that the other might have a comprehensible viewpoint after all, on closer benevolent consideration. I do not have to agree with this point of view and I do not have to adopt it. But I can remain respectful and concede to the other person that, seen from his point of view, I can understand his argumentation and conclusion.

Unfortunately, I found that this was often not possible.

Understanding the Levels of Consciousness

Looking at life, at people, teams and organizations, but also at nations through the lens of the Spiral Dynamics level of consciousness model has been a proven method for me for many years to expand my understanding, to gain a more differentiated perspective and it often helps to bridge gaps – to build bridges.

The public discussion and the polemic and almost violent interaction with each other is hard to bear. This blog is my attempt to better understand what is going on. It is an exploratory journey, my first draft at the subject, so to speak, and I welcome any contributions to my thoughts, whether critical or expanding.

Clare Graves, the founder of Spiral Dynamics said, “mankind is preparing for a momentous leap.”  By this he meant the leap from the Green level of consciousness to the Yellow level of consciousness (Yellow is called Teal in the Ken Wilber color model).

Without going into an in-depth discussion of the individual stages here (that would go beyond the scope of this blog), I would like to provide a very brief summary of the stages as an introduction. In courses, I always start the explanation at the bottom of the spiral, since the lower stages emerged first. Each subsequent stage evolves from the previous ones and shows itself at different levels of maturity, i.e. beginning stage when it is newly emerging, mature stage when it is well developed and integrated, and ending stage when it is winding down, weaknesses and problems are showing up and a new stage starts to emerge.

Overview Spiral Dynamics Levels of Consciousness

Turquoise – stage after yellow – we exclude this one in this consideration. Let’s master Yellow first.

Yellow (Teal) – Conscious development, evolution through intuition, inspiration and non-judgmental integration of all previous levels of consciousness. This is the first level on the so-called 2nd Tier and this is what Clare Graves was talking about when he spoke of the tremendous leap of consciousness.

Green – humanity and togetherness through connection at eye level, compassion, meaningfulness, all perspectives deserve equal respect, awareness of being embedded in a greater whole (society, nation, planet).

Orange – prosperity and success through science and progress, competitive orientation, forms own opinion, can question authority, management by objectives.

Blue (Amber according to Ken Wilber) – order and stability through rules, external authority is not questioned. Structured processes, command and control, hierarchy, morality, black and white thinking.

Red – Enforcement and expansion through will and self-assertion, impulsive (does not plan). Heroism, egocentricity

We exclude Beige and Purple in this consideration for the moment.

The Interpretation of the Levels

The above mentioned keywords for each stage are to be understood as a kind of “placeholder” for large and diverse fields. If we want to work with these stages, it is not enough to deal with them cognitively. It is important that we also deal with them on an experiential and emotional level. These levels are NOT to be understood as a typology and no human being IS “Blue” or “Orange” or “Green”.

These are the levels of consciousness as they have developed in evolution and we carry them all within us, they are part of our human DNA. So we are not “being” Blue, we are “behaving” “Blue” in a certain situation, but we can act from a different level of consciousness in another situation or at another time.

The leap from Green to Yellow is greater than any leap before, which is why Clare Graves calls it 2nd Tier. There are several fundamental differences between Levels 1 – 6 and Level 7. One difference is that up to and including Green, everyone thinks their way of seeing the world is the only right way. Orange and Green are more tolerant than the previous levels and accept other opinions, but ultimately their view is the only correct one. Yellow is the first level, which has the awareness that each level has its justification and its important contribution to the whole. In a healthy organization, for example, you want all levels to be present in a healthy expression so that the organization is holistic and stable.

Another difference between Yellow and the previous levels is, that Yellow is not driven by fear anymore. It can therefore not be manipulated. While previous levels develop to better cope with the world becoming more and more complex, Yellow develops simply out of the pure joy of developing. What we can observe is that the levels up to Green tend to revert to previous levels when they feel insecure and threatened. This might be one of the drivers of the aggression in the current discussion which tries to solve the problem with a black-and-white schema.

Examining the current Public Discussion from the Point of View of the Levels of Consciousness

Now I would like to look at the current discussion (if you can even call that a discussion) from this point of view and try to understand what is going on.

The big challenge is that the government has to make rules that are valid for everyone. The resistance comes from the fact that different people have different opinions about what is necessary and what is reasonable. Our challenge as a collective is: How can we find a way to deal with each other and define rules that are acceptable to all levels of consciousness? There are no patterns and templates for this, that is the challenge of the gradually emerging Yellow level of consciousness. We will now have to develop these together in order to find a way out. It is not an option for one level to impose its view on the others as a universal truth. The opinion that one’s own world view is the only correct one is an attribute of the levels up to and including Green. Yellow sees it differently, integrative.

I have chosen three questions that I find relevant in this context.

Question 1 – Is vaccination a good idea and a reasonable measure?
Question 2 – How do I cope with death, what does it mean to me?
Question 3 – What does freedom mean to me, what do I use to determine it?

For each of these questions I try to sketch how the different levels see it. Usually I draw the stages as a spiral bottom up. starting with red, so at the bottom are the stages that have developed first and further up the stages that are newer and partly just emerging (Yellow). So if you want to read this as it develops and see how a stage emerges from the previous ones, you can start at the bottom at red and read upwards.

A transition from one stage to another usually takes a long time (in decades or longer). In the Age of Enlightenment period, for example, it took almost 200 years for the new understanding to become established in people’s everyday consciousness. In the early days, the bearers of the “good” news were sometimes burned at the stake. Today, such pioneers are called “esoterics” at best, and the stake has been replaced by banning and censorship on social media.

For a differentiated view, we must also be aware that each of us carries all stages within us. They show themselves dynamically and appear in different orchestrations. Even I as an individual can be ambivalent within myself, and have multiple voices that have different opinions. Often it happens in this case that one oscillates between different views, depending on what kind of group of people one is with or what kind of media one has just been exposed to.

Is Vaccination a Good Idea and an effective Measure?

We go through all levels and look at how different the criteria are for whether someone considers a measure to be effective and meaningful.  It also shows that at each level, the reasons for being in favor or against vaccination can be very different. We also look at different attitudes towards compulsory vaccination.

Red doesn’t think much about it, red is very impulsive, doesn’t think strategically and just does what he/she wants. Red can say yes or no to the measures, as it suits him/her. in the moment. The masses usually decide depending on how the leader acts.

Blue likes the current regulation of measures. Someone has to ensure order in the interest of the community. Seen from this Blue perspective, the calls for “vaccinating for the community” and “showing solidarity” are plausible.

Blue is comfortable with measures being dictated by a higher authority. Blue tends to say yes to the measures and also to compulsory vaccination, unless one belongs to a free church, a sect, or other groupings with their own conventions that dictate otherwise, in which case he is in solidarity with his group. Fundamentalist groups usually act out of a dominant blue state of consciousness.

Orange begins to discuss the vaccination and measures, finds different scientific points of view and wants the debate, the discourse. With this behavior, Orange also contributes to the further development of science. Orange cultivates mainstream science. Research that brings findings that question the status quo are called anomalies in varying degrees of intensity and are more or less ignored. Orange does high level science in the border area with a smooth transition to Green.

Science has never advanced in history because the status quo has been defended and protected. The scientists who have challenged the status quo have been repeatedly burned at the stake (depending on the century), stigmatized and excluded, or ridiculed as esoteric. Today they are marginalized and censored by social media algorithms.

Orange’s attitude to the measures and compulsory vaccination depends on what is currently seen as “scientific”. Opinions can differ, especially the more Green is represented in the theses. Orange loves intellectual sport and extensive discussions, the end in itself is in the foreground, a certain self-indulgence can occur.

Green does not relate easily to the currently still prevailing image of science (as far as health is concerned). Green has a networked systemic view of biology and genetics and sees the immune system as a highly complex, self-regulating system. To intervene mechanistically in such a system, which we do not really understand yet, with a vaccination is seen as dangerous, because one cannot foresee the many reactions it will trigger across the biological system. In the case of Corona the effects have not been studied more carefully in long-term studies. For Green, the notion that there are no alternatives to vaccination is not acceptable.

Some who operate on the Green level vaccinate themselves because “freedom” is important to them and because they want to be part of the community, want to go to a concert with friends and that is more important to them. These are open-minded people and when the world is suddenly strictly regulated and closed, this creates an inner struggle.  Green does not want to be manipulated (we are all equal, we are at eye level, we do not want to be controlled by higher hierarchy).
From this understanding, a compulsion to vaccinate can trigger feelings of powerlessness or thoughts of flight. Some people emigrate or look for other ways to escape the compulsion.

Yellow goes one step further than Green and knows that the mind is the creator of a healthy body and that we all, if we develop to conscious clarity, can heal our bodies ourselves (without remedies). For yellow both is possible (vaccinate and not vaccinate) and everyone must be allowed to decide for himself according to his own feeling, life situation and his health history and conditioning. Yellow cannot be controlled by fear, it may get vaccinated under the motto “I look what feels right for me and go with my coherence”.

Yellow observes consciously, looks what the situation does with him and what kind of information his emotions give him, then decides very situatively and flexibly.

How do I cope with Death, what does it mean for me?

In the debates I have followed, the topic of death has hardly been addressed. The unspoken credo seems to be: death is something that must be prevented by all means. Today, however, this bias is rather one-sidedly referred to Corona. There are many other causes of death that could be prevented, which politicians have been watching for years without taking any measures.

Red does not philosophize, acts impulse- and hormone-driven and thinks that loss is to be expected.

Blue: seen from a religious viewpoint, it is God who calls when someone dies. In any case, it is a force from outside that rules over me. In Blue, the individual doesn’t count for much. First and foremost, everyone has to serve the community and follow the rules. That’s where the undifferentiated call for “solidarity” comes from.

Orange: this is the competition between science and the growth of the pharmaceutical industry. In a healthy form, science tries to develop as best it can in order to fight death and disease more effectively. Orange, however, has an image of biology that mainly fights symptoms and not causes. This leads to many difficulties and side effects (diseases of civilization).

The desire to fight death at all costs is a distortion of Orange and the behaviour of Pharma is the exaggeration of Orange (exploiting to optimize their own returns). Orange thinks we only have to research long enough, then we can become immortal, then we can also stop the climate catastrophe, we no longer believe in anything bigger than us (that would be Blue). Orange is rather not concerned with death and often suppresses to think about it as far as possible.

Green sees the body as a complex, interconnected and self-regulating system. Green does not try to fight symptoms, but to work cause-related and systemically. On this level the soul comes into focus and questions like “when is it time to let go and leave and not keep someone alive at all costs” become important. It is about human dignity. The soul becomes more important than the body.

Yellow takes responsibility for dying and does not even necessarily need an illness to leave the body when it thinks it is time. If a person consciously decides to leave because he is convinced that now is the best moment, then he can leave his body within a few days without illness.

What does Freedom mean to me, what do I use to determine it?

Another important aspect of the discussion is what freedom means to people. How does a person define freedom, what does he need to feel free and what does he resist because it takes away his feeling of freedom? Are there also situations where someone consciously or unconsciously does not want freedom?

Red impulsively does what he/she wants, can even use fists when necessary to do what he/she wants.

Blue does not really have a concept of freedom. Authority decides, I am bound by the rules and norms of my reference group. I get freedom indirectly and unofficially (hypocritical). If you expect Blue to make a free decision for himself, it might just panic.

Orange: my personal freedom is important on this level. The world is at my disposal, and I want to enjoy it. Compassion is not very pronounced and active yet, it only develops properly in Green. With healthy Blue I keep rules, but use them to my advantage. Orange defines freedom more based on externalities.

Green: I want to be part of a community and also see myself embedded in society and as an inhabitant of our planet. Boundaries are difficult for green (often also weak red, which cannot set boundaries) and therefore it has trouble taking a clear stand and likes to get lost in the “we”.

The task of green is to learn to live individuality (the achievement of red and orange) and still behave as part of society without going to one extreme or the other. This is only possible if red, blue and orange are present in a healthy expression.
Important values are inner freedom, freedom of thought, freedom in sexuality, appreciation of diversity, everyone may be as they want (but only within a green value system).

Yellow is free, transpersonal and flows in harmony with evolution. Yellow can let go of control, goes with the flow. is not ego- or fear-driven and for this reason can no longer be manipulated.

The imminent Quantum Leap

Our current, familiar mindset will not help us to overcome the ditch. We are sailing on unknown waters towards an unknown destination and we have no clue how long it is going to take to get there. We are on this journey as a community. We all have to learn to endure uncertainty, to develop a sense for the future and for larger spaces, and an ability to deal with not-knowing.

A quantum leap of consciousness is upon us and we are probably in the crucible of this transformation. It seems as if each stage wants to show itself once again in its extreme.

We all together make up the collective and we are all on this voyage towards a new and unknown territory. Each one of us who contributes to this rather uncomfortable journey, with mutual respect, with respect for human dignity, who does not judge and condemn, who does not condemn the people who still condemn – each one of us who does this contributes to this collective quantum leap. And it takes every one of us.

This blog is my humble contribution. In the struggle for this understanding, in the search for the words that might describe what I feel, I am shaping my process and my contribution. I share it, unfinished as it is, in the hope that my description may spark an inspiration or two.

Written in December 2021 just before the solstice.

My thanks go to Thomas Strauss who assisted with creative conversations and with a review for this blog.

Further options to deepen your understanding

If you would like to delve deeper into these levels of consciousness, I can currently offer three possibilities:

  • In our training The Integral Organizational Map – A Journey of Discovery you will get a good overview of the elements of the Integral Map (quadrants, levels of consciousness model and lines of development) and how to work with this map in organizations. If you attend the physical version in Zurich (usually in German), it is one day, or you can sign up online for 3 modules of 3 hours each (this is offered in German and English).
  • In our Innovation Coaching training, which I offer together with Thomas Strauss, we delve into the different levels in 3 modules of 3 days each, with many exercises, so that we get familiar with the levels and recognize them more easily on the outside. We go on a journey from module to module to understand how one stage develops from the previous one and how we can work with teams and organizations to support such vertical development.
  • Individual coaching and team workshops

We learn together how to better understand current situations and in a larger context. We practice being more and more fully present in the present moment. This enables us to relate more precisely to the current situation and to find new solutions in co-creation and in creation from the intuitive space of the future.

…. or – to quote a well-known saying – fear gives wings!

Fear is going around in these days of the pandemic threat, is stirred up by daily bad news and even stricter regulations and measures. Fear makes us nervous, stressed, insecure and open to manipulation. Our body releases stress hormones. It is medically proven that our immune system as well as our creative thinking power is severely weakened.

However, fear can be the door opener and signpost to the development of creativity, our ability to experience adventure, to find ways out and solutions, to grow beyond ourselves. Fear can activate powerful resources of strength and enable us to achieve things that would not be possible without fear. This is exactly what the current times demand of us. Vivian Dittmar, the emotion expert, describes how this is possible. She has done groundbreaking work and written books on emotional intelligence, how to deal with emotions and how they can support us when we understand how to deal with them.

We are in the midst of a fundamental transformation, both globally and as humanity. Ancient shamanic people already knew that this time would come, and so did the psychologist Claire Graves, who in the 1980s laid the foundation for Spiral Dynamics, a consciousness level model that is very helpful to better understand what is happening in the world and in our organizations. He said in the 1980’s: “Humanity is preparing for a momentuous leap“.

Ecological crises and also the current virus crisis indicate that many things have gotten out of hand. That we become insecure and feel fear is actually normal under such conditions. We have to leave our comfort zone and develop ourselves.

So how can we learn to use fear creatively?

The current situation clearly shows that the old and proven no longer works. A new world is emerging in the background, but it is not really visible and tangible yet. So we are forced to let go of something old without having already found new ground. And at the same time we have to ask the question: “Where does real innovation come from to create this new world?

We work with the integral model of Ken Wilber and Spiral Dynamics by Claire Graves. We combine these two models in an integral organizational map. The integral model shows very well that we have to develop new competencies in order to master the current challenges.

Our current, familiar mindset will not help us to find truly new solutions. So we are challenged to enter unknown territory, to endure the uncertainty, to develop a sense for the future and for wider spaces, and an ability to deal with the not-knowing. Our mindset needs an update from the future, so to speak. Those who are familiar with Otto Scharmer’s Theory-U know that there are already processes and tools for this.

We call them change competence, development competence and innovation competence. In order to navigate our steamships safely through transformation, whether they are corporations, SMEs or population groups and nations, these new competencies may be crucial.

In our Training Innovation Coaching (in German) we work together to develop these new competencies based on the background of the Integral Vision. The question is: “What do we need inside and outside to create something new?”

We learn together how to better understand the current situation and see it in a wider context. We practice to be fully present in the present moment. In this way we can relate more precisely to the current situation and find new solutions in co-creation and in creation from the intuitive space of the future.

Cynthia from the Sayling Wen Foundation in Taipeh called us in summer 2019 and said: “We want to make Taiwan Teal, can you support us?”

Wow, what a task! How about making the planet Teal?

After many questions to find out if they knew what they were asking for, Szabolcs and I went to Taipeh in early November 2019, attending a two day conference organized by the Sayling Wen Foundation. On day one there were several presentations on the topic of future work and agility. On day two Szabolcs and I presented the elements and the concept of the ReinventingOrgs Map. There were approximately 60 attendees, mostly leaders, directors or HR people from mid-sized and large enterprises. We did not simply teach the concepts, but go through many exercises with the goal of giving people the opportunity to feel the quadrants and the levels of the spiral. For the preparation, our translator had to translate the map to Chinese. We started the day with a meditation.

Teresa YL Lin,  CEO of Sayling Wen Cultural Foundation, attended the full workshop.

The noble goal of the Sayling Wen Foundation was to make the Teal Concept (as per Frederic Laloux’s book “Reinventing Organizations”) known in Taiwan and to provide support for the organizational world in developing and moving forward into new ways of working. The audience was diverse and interesting. Their questions and comments showed, that the challenges organizations face are not so different from what we find in Europe.

The crowd was simply amazing. Even though we had the additional challenge of language barrier, working with two translators, they were so open, vital and enthusiastic about diving into new areas of perception and thinking, that it was a pleasure and made it easy for us to also dive into the field and transmitting what was showing up for all of us.

We didn’t know what would expect us. We had both never been in Taiwan, nor in China and we had no idea of what kind of people would show up. The experience was very special for us. We felt so familiar and well from the first moment we arrived in Taipeh and all throughout the week. Our preparation workshops were creative and efficient, with a very natural alignment. Same with the audience. The workshops ran like a breeze, as if we had been doing this many times before. People engaged deeply and on a very open and personal level and also openly shared their insights within the group.

So what did I learn?

As you can see, we enjoyed the work in Taiwan. And in the back of Szabolcs you can see what the map looks like in Chinese. I was impressed by the openness and the enthusiasm that I found in these people. The eagerness to evolve and to share their best with the world, the eagerness to contribute to the evolution not only of the organizational world but of the world and the people in general. They understood that evolving means to start with yourself, and be willing to connect with an open heart. And connect with an open heart they did.

So I think, when people connect openly on a heart level, cultural and other differences fall apart, we are all the same, we are all human beings, we share doubts and hopes, we share love and compassion and we are more than willing to bring our best part to the table.

My reflections

Taiwan is in the tension between Hong Kong and China. There is a saying in Taiwan which goes “The Hong Kong of Today is the Taiwan of Tomorrow”. So they are closely watching what is happening in Hong Kong these days. The control and manipulative rules in Taiwan from the government and China can be felt strongly. it is a country at the mercy of another. But to be honest, when I look at what is going on in Europe, in my country Switzerland specifically, there is also a lot of manipulation going on. The government does often not act in favour of the people. What drives their agenda is the economy, the global and local players and profit (their profit). In my opinion they are even willing to sacrifice the health of the people and nature in dramatic ways for the sake of money. And by controlling the main media they brainwash the people successfully.

So I believe that on a collective consciousness level all mankind is in a similar phase. The manipulative forces show a bit differently in Europe, the make up is a bit nicer, but that doesn’t change the fact that is is manipulative and not in service of the people. Now people are more and more becoming ready to wake up, to take more responsibility for themselves and for their environment and for all people. So resistance towards manipulative forces will increase and people eventually break free. It is time to wake up, reclaim the planet and live a free and creative life. That is evolution, it is, what the spiral is hinting to.

What does that have to do with the map?

The understanding that usually comes when working with the integral map helps a lot to bridge and balance polarities and different perspectives and opinions. Looking at our evolution from such a high level perspective and understanding in what great transformation we all are helps a lot to get out of resistance, competition and fights and meet each other with respect and an open heart. That makes all the difference. This is why I love this work so much. I believe the more people operate from such an integral understanding the more harmonious our planetary transformation can develop.

Often with cultural transformations of organizations it is difficult to get finance on board. Many have no idea, how it could be possible to make the budget and investment process leaner without going down the drain. We all know the hectic towards the end of the year, the time, energy and money that is “wasted” with these processes. Wouldn’t it be nice, if Business Agility had new solutions for these challenges?

This article discusses some interesting cases that clearly show that this is possible and that there are alternatives.

Link to the article on  LinkedIn

Experience shows, that sustainable transformational processes can only succeed, when the individual potential of the employees and the interpersonal potential of the organization is activated.

This article shows, what that means and presents a model, how this process can be approached holistically.

When trying to apply the methods that have proven to be successful in software development to the organization as a whole, one quickly encounters limitations. The reason for this is that agile methods are not compatible with every organizational culture. What works well in an IT department may encounter structures and processes in other parts of the organization that collide with agile principles. Examples include traditional purchasing policies, which are often very cumbersome and centralized, or the often equally centralized financial and budget policies, with forecasts that have to be made for the next three (or in some cases four to five) years.

Wouldn’t it be convenient to have a good map, as well as a suitable travel guide and compass, on this long and eventful journey of cultural transformation, with all its unforeseen surprises?

We have introduced method X (insert as you like) perfectly, why does it not work?

A common misconception when introducing so-called “business agility” is the assumption that processes can control the transformation. One may think that if the organization succeeds in introducing Holacracy or SAFe perfectly according to the textbook, then all problems are solved and the organization is agile. If it then fails, it is often assumed that it is because the chosen method was wrong.

How can the integral model help?

Unfortunately, it is not that simple. And with this insight the real work starts. Helpful on the way to a deeper understanding is the integral model of Ken Wilber. Combined with Spiral Dynamics, a consiousness level model which we will discuss briefly below, it serves as the basis for the integral map that will help us to find orientation and navigate the transformation.


The picture shows the four quadrants of the model.

The Quadrants on the left – Inside

On the left are the so-called “inner” quadrants. The quadrant in the upper left corner represents the inside of the individual. It is about our personal values, feelings, attitudes, thoughts, about who we are and want to be, our fears, our trust.

The lower left quadrant represents the inside of the collective, in our case the whole organisation. It is about who we want to be as an organization, how we define ourselves, what visions and common values we have and if and how we live them. It’s about our attitude to work, our willingness to change and the culture of communication we cultivate. This is the area in which we work when it comes to the cultural merging of two organisations or departments or to change and development.


The Quadrants on the right – Outside

On the right side are the “outer” quadrants. In the upper right corner is the exterior of the individual. This is about the behavior, the abilities, the appearance, the behavior, our self-management as well as leadership and conflict behavior, it’s about how the outside world perceives us.

The quadrant on the bottom right represents the exterior of the collective. In the case of an organization it is about the form of organization, the business model, the structure of the organization, the processes, the handling of finances and resources, the technologies, processes and methods used. In this quadrant we find agile methods if used. Similar to the above, it represents how we are perceived as an organization from the outside.

Methods used must be adapted to the organizational culture

We can see from the diagram that methods, structures and processes belong in the lower right-hand corner. The decision to use an agile method and the choice of the most suitable one therefore belong in this lower right quadrant. However, the introduction and implementation of the chosen method will only succeed and be sustainable if the culture of the organization allows it or is developed to this end. This inner orientation belongs in the lower left quadrant.

Experience shows that all four quadrants must be equally considered if the method is to have a sustainable effect. Only then will the “soft facts” of the left-hand quadrants, which are often neglected in our corporate culture, be given the value they deserve.

If too little respect is paid to this fundamental aspect of balance from within and without, the result will be that there is a lot of sand in the gears, the agile “project” will not progress and in many cases will be abandoned at some point. Under the motto “it just doesn’t work after all”.

An example

In reality there are many variations and different gradations. The following example describes in a placative way what happens daily.

A few years ago Scrum was introduced in a company’s software development department. It worked well, so that Scrum was introduced in other IT teams. When this step was also very successful, the call was made to introduce this method in other areas of the company as well, in order to extend the increased effectiveness to the entire organization.

No sooner said than done. But there were many departments that were very traditional and rather conservative in their approach. Clear hierarchies, strict rules, complicated and lengthy processes, blatant measures in case of errors or failure to follow instructions, rewarding the obedient – we know what it’s like. People who work in such structures are used to taking orders, not questioning anything, not having an opinion of their own and simply working through what ends up on their desk or in their inbox. They don’t think along and they don’t feel responsible for the result.

Then suddenly – perhaps triggered by a change in management – there is the instruction to make the organisation as a whole agile. The experienced Scrum people, having successfully introduced Scrum in the IT department, are now supposed to introduce Scrum in departments where work is done under completely different conditions. After initial information seminars, in-depth Scrum training is conducted for these employees.

These employees, who for years were trained neither to think nor to bring in their own ideas, are now expected to operate the toggle switch and become agile overnight. From one day to the next they are expected to understand how creative it can be to communicate openly, to give and receive feedback (including explicit appreciation), to make decisions and make mistakes, and how it feels to be responsible for the steps and results that they have worked out and developed together with their teams.

The famous Mindshift – from inside to outside

Cultural transformation means the movement from the inside out and stands for the much-cited mindshift. The explanation can be seen in the picture with the quadrant model.

Mindshift in the organization means:

  1. As an organization, to become aware of where you are (map – you are here!).
  2. To define together where you want to go.
  3. To find an organic way to move there as an overall organization.

With this perspective it becomes clear that it is not always the same method that leads best to the goal. The choice of measures necessary for further development depends on where you are today. The conventional team described above first of all needs training in the area of personality development and communication in order to be able to move and prove themselves in this new, agile culture.

In an agile world, defining objectives for an organization means working together to develop them. Nothing is prescribed from top to bottom by the management. And depending on where the management stands today, further training, personality development and conscious rethinking are also needed at this level.

Spiral Dynamics creates Transparency

In the holistic approach, Spiral Dynamics is now used to create the map and the next steps and is laid over the quadrants. Spiral Dynamics is a very differentiated consciousness level model that Ken Wilber also works with. It describes the development of human consciousness, was originally developed by the psychologist Clare Graves and is used today in many ways in the organizational environment. So-called lines of development are laid across the quadrants.

Let’s look at the values in the lower left quadrant, for example. How do we as an organisation deal with loyalty and what does loyalty mean to us? Are we committed to loyalty to our boss or to our department? Is it “us against all others” or are we committed to the organization as a whole? Or do we belong to a larger community and feel committed to social and sustainable values that we would not sacrifice for anything, not even for our organization?

This example also shows how misunderstandings and disputes can quickly arise within a team when loyalty is not defined jointly and team members have different views on loyalty because they look at the value from a different level of the consiousness model. Everyone then thinks that the other is not loyal.

As another example from the lower left quadrant we can take the handling of finances. Do we invest in structures and technologies, or rather in growth potential, in sustainable corporate values, or even in future potential? Again, depending from which consciousness level on we make such choices, changes the choice we make.

Such specific topics, which can now be looked at in detail, are called lines of development. There are many possible lines per quadrant. In each case, those topics and lines are chosen that have a high priority for the current situation.

Using the Integral Map

If we want to use the model as a map, we define some lines of development for each quadrant that are relevant to the current issue and consider how we deal with them. This shows us where we stand. The map then shows us what the next sensible steps on the way to our goal might look like.

Ken Wilber’s integral model, combined with the understanding of Spiral Dynamics, provides a versatile, complete and differentiated map. It enables us to orientate ourselves before and during a cultural transformation and to design the meaningful next steps. The refined understanding of change in organizations helps to set targeted and sustainable change impulses for individuals, teams and entire organizations.

Guide for the Map

If you want to delve deeper into these exciting topics, you have the opportunity to attend our basic seminar Innovation Coaching  (in German, if you are interested in an English workshop, please contact us). It provides experience-based information on how to see organizations in a new light and how to design them more consciously. It is offered in three modules of three days each, introduces the basics of the models and shows how they can be implemented in an organization.

The next 1-day workshop, entitled “Business Agility – an integral voyage of discovery”, will take place on June 4 in English and on June 9 in German. It provides a good overview of the contents discussed here and offers ample space for wide-ranging discussions. It can also be booked as a company course and is currently held online.