Marveling at Spiral Dynamics by Tim Morgan

Tim Morgan @TimothyNMorgan (Director of Strategic Foresight at North Texas Foresight Institute) gave this presentation at the  2018 Spring Foresight Event at the University of Houston and I thought it was brilliant!  I begged him to put it in blog form for me to post here. I bet you will love it too!

 

Spiral Dynamics is a theory of emergent values development based on the work of Clare W. Graves. These emergent values levels, called vMemes, have a reputation for being notoriously confusing when first encountered. Don Beck & Christopher Cowan attempted to ease the way for newcomers by describing Grave’s original research using symbolic colors & tags. Beck & Cowan’s kaleidoscopic levels are a bit easier to absorb, but still can seem daunting to beginners.

Can we make it even easier or more accessible so that people can begin to understand Spiral Dynamics?

We can try, via Marvel comic book characters.

TIER 1 LEVELS OF EXISTENCE

The Incredible Hulk: Level of Existence #1, Beige SurvivalSense

hulk

Beige values center on individual survival in a hostile world. No one puts the Fight into Fight-or-Flight like the Incredible Hulk. The Hulk represents human values in its most raw, survivalist form. He can barely speak and has an extremely limited view of the world. His values are completely centered on moment-to-moment action. Anger triggers Hulk’s emergence from Dr. Bruce Banner when survival is at stake.

Hulk – Image sourced from http://www.movies.com/movie-news/comics-on-film-hulk-finally-getting-more-love-from-mcu/23203

 

Guardians of the Galaxy: Level of Existence #2, Purple KinSpirits

GuardiansPurple goes from individual survival to thriving as part of a larger group. The Guardians of the Galaxy typify that transition from individual survival to group purpose. Each Guardian brings their own unique virtues to their tribe-like circle. Together, they go beyond mere individual focus, to thriving kinship in a hostile universe.

Guardians of the Galaxy – Image sourced from https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2015381/

The Red Skull: Level of Existence #3 – Red PowerGods

Red Skull

Red wants to break tribal limits to impose their will on the universe. The Red Skull embodies the PowerGod vMeme. He seeks out both mystic and physical power to impose his will on the universe. He creates pecking orders of trusted lieutenants around him. He revels in the destruction of his enemies, and dreams of a never-ending empire created by his own hand. He bridles at containment. His will is to command, and never to be shamed by failure.

Red Skull – Image sourced from https://www.quora.com/Captain-America-creative-franchise-How-did-the-Red-Skull-get-his-red-face

 

Captain America: Level of Existence #4, Blue TruthForce

Captain

Blue has a capital-P Purpose. Captain America is Marvel’s embodiment of Blue’s traditional values: truth, order, and community. He works for the good of society, willing to sacrifice himself for the greater good. Everyone has their place in the grand scheme of things, and Steve Rogers accepts his: working to defeat chaos and restore order.  Just as Blue values first emerged to contain Red impulsive dominion, Cap emerged in WWII to defeat Hydra and the Red Skull.

Captain America – Image sourced from http://www.wallpapers13.com/avengers-age-of-ultron-captain-america-marvel-poster-hd-desktop-wallpaper-2560×1600/

 

Iron Man & Black Widow: Level of Existence #5 Orange StriveDrive

Iron Man – Image sourced from https://variety.com/2014/film/news/robert-downey-jr-talks-iron-man-4-1201299776/ Black Widow – Image sourced from https://costumewall.com/dress-like-black-widow/

WomanOrange strives for autonomy and achievement. Billionaire genius Tony Stark typifies Orange’s success-oriented, no-nonsense view of the world. Stark’s ultimate achievement is his Iron Man exosuit. Stark constantly pushes the limits of science and technology making each new version more advanced than the last. Orange achievement isn’t always about money or technology. S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Natasha Romanov, code name “Black Widow”, chose a different path. Black Widow masters every challenge through keen observation, focus, and strategy. She is spycraft personified: cool, calculating, pragmatic, preternaturally competent, and precise

Groot: Level of Existence #6, Green HumanBond

rootGreen values reject hierarchies and roles in favor of relationships and empowerment. Groot is the living embodiment of such community-focused nurture and alignment with nature. His plant-like form grows and adapts to the needs of others. He guides his friends towards a spiritual sense of nature and fellowship. He willingly sacrifices himself to save his fellow Guardians, telling them “We are Groot”, only to be reborn again through their care.

Groot – Image sourced from http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/File:Textless_Groot_GOTG_Poster.jpg

 

TIER 2 LEVELS OF EXISTENCE

The Vision and Doctor Strange: Level of Existence #7, Yellow FlexFlow

The Vision – Image sourced from https://media.comicbook.com/2018/07/avengers-infinity-war-vision-mantis-1125066-640×320.jpeg Doctor Strange – Image sourced from http://marvelcinematicdatabase.wikia.com/wiki/Doctor_Strange

America

Yellow breaks past previous levels of existence to a new level of systemic understanding. Yellow values both the analytical and spiritual. It focuses on “I”, but never to the detriment of “We”. It is unlike prior values levels which center on either “I” or “We” values but not both. Two exemplars of Yellow’s integrative “systems-of-systems” perspective are The Vision and Doctor Strange. The Vision is a living robot, born from the fusion of advanced technology and an Infinity Stone. He strives to balance his desires with other’s needs. Yellow emerged differently in Dr. Steven Strange.  Strange was a world-class surgeon, a true man of science and rationality. He went on a transformative journey of discovery after a debilitating accident. That journey ultimately led him to arcane knowledge of a wider universe where science and mysticism are different maps of the larger reality. Both The Vision and Doctor Strange stand apart as powerful individuals who are compelled to gain an ever wider understanding of the universe, simultaneously desiring to keep everyone at every level safe.

Wakanda: Level of Existence #8, Turquoise GlobalView

Wakanda – Image sourced from https://www.slashfilm.com/black-panther-concept-art/

Wakanda

Turquoise senses the world artistically through its interconnected flow. It looks to “We” first, but in ways which empower “I”. The hidden city of Wakanda is the embodiment of this holistic worldview. It blends its separate cultures in ways which preserve each’s uniqueness but gives common voice to all. It does not shirk from sacrifice and looks to sustain all within it.  A Turquoise citizen of Wakanda is one who moves comfortably across all the levels, using each to harmonize the whole. Wakandans go beyond seeing the world via Yellow’s integrated system-of-systems eyes. They know the world as a holistic continuum, an environment of environments. They celebrate both cultural diversity and shared values. Turquoise Wakandans do not see competition between technology and nature but use each to enhance the other in a dynamic balance.

Level of Existence #9 & Beyond

Grave’s theory indicated that new levels of existence would continue to emerge as new life conditions arise beyond the current levels. Some claim emergence of these later levels, even though Yellow and Turquoise are still forming. It is almost impossible to comprehend what new values and patterns of thinking will emerge as we confront life conditions beyond the growing environmental stress and global strife giving rise to Yellow and Turquoise. We can only speculate on later levels. Certainty must wait as the future unfolds new challenges along the infinite spiral of values.

Coda on Imperfect Analogies

The fun pop-culture examples barely scratch the full extent of the Spiral Dynamics theory. They are only an entry-point for understanding this unique model of human values development. Spiral Dynamics is a flexible tool for understanding human behavior and aspects of social change. Enjoy your journey up the spiral. Excelsior!

The Future of Hate!

Development
https://www.dailyevolver.com/2018/01/evolution-humanity-human/

Hate will always be with us. Developmental Psychology tells us that until a human or a group of humans  mature to a certain level, there is an allergy to values that are not of our own. To complicate matters further in this area, our shadows will blind us to the possible truth that the traits that we dislike in others could reside in ourselves!

At the tribal level (see chart) of maturity, whatever is a danger to the group is the focus of hate. There is power in numbers and thus we can relax in relative safety.

At the egocentric (Warrior)stage, whatever threatens the perceived individual loss of power is the focus of hate. Think gangs, the military and patriarchy for a feel of this level. At the Traditional level, the boundaries are set and whomever does not comply is considered a threat. This level grew out of the need to contain the Warrior level.

At the modern stage, science and rationality rules and whatever does not have that world view is a threat. This level is where many of my friends think they can just persuade others with logic and rationality. Ever try that and fail? This is probably why.

Even the pluralistic stage (modernistic) does not see that it discriminates when it rails against those that discriminate. It’s not until the individual makes a difficult leap to the level of maturity where truly everyone is given a voice that there is a lesser chance of hate because of the decrease in fear. (Emergent Integral)

Only about 5% of the population is at this maturity level so one can see why all hell is breaking loose in the world at the moment! And by the way, every human slides in and out of all these levels at any given hour of any given day. It all depends on what life is presenting and how your feeling about it.

man couple people woman
Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com

Everyone has a right to their values but someone who is trying to get others to act out of fear is not doing the greater good. When folks are acting out of fear, they are responding from a part of their brain (amygdala) that cannot be creative to actually solve a problem but acts out of fight or flight. The prefrontal cortex (reasoning, creative part) shuts down, and the focus is on keeping safe both physically and psychologically. There was once a saying “it takes all kinds to make the world go around” but currently it seems there are many that believe only one way makes the world go around, and it’s their way!

Lately, it seems there has been an uptick in usually good people using their power to incite people in fear! It is so disappointing to see this and I for one would like to see them use their power to inspire instead are stoking the fire of fear!

When life conditions are good, it is easier to grow developmentally to that place of less fear, however, when life is threatening, most folks go to a lower level or one of tribalism because there is safety in numbers. The fear rules and with all thing’s the Internet, the fear spreads like wild-fire!  Havoc and hate ensue!

So what to do to keep the fear down and thus also possible hate? Take a relaxing breath and do something fun to better deal with stress. Keep off the fear mongering social media and get out into nature, which will give you a more realistic perspective on life. Give and or get a hug from a fellow human being! Watch a funny movie! Take a bath or get a massage! Find what makes you happy and do it!

Agree or disagree? I would love to hear your perspective if it is constructive but keep quiet if you just want to be mean and hate.

Revisiting the “other” or why we should stay calm and give Trump a chance…..for now.

Emotions are running high since our president-elect has been announced! There have been protests in various cities, walkouts of high school and college students and new Facebook pages organized around this. No one can stay objective to the values of others when their emotions are high because it evokes the “fight or flight” response. When this happens our capacity to hold multiple perspectives becomes narrower as we have less access to our neocortex while the amygdala is in command. (http://bit.ly/2cRGlzm) I don’t blame anyone for expressing their authentic emotions and personal truths. However, in order to do a better job of forecasting as a Futurist, it’s much easier if we don’t make someone unlike ourselves the “other.” And, if we can objectively observe values, then we can forecast future behavior more accurately.

On September 11, 2011, I wrote a blog on the “other” ( http://bit.ly/2geFmg9). In it, I reminded folks that Integral promotes all perspectives because they may have partial truths. Furthermore, if there is a strong reaction to something, then it should at least be explored for “shadow” issues that need to be healed and integrated into our whole consciousness. The value in this integration is, so that we have a better chance of controlling these issues instead of them controlling us. Every good futurist has a responsibility to explore their blind spots for questionable assumptions.

I was disappointed when Trump won the election. Hubby and I both caucused for Bernie as he comes closer than any other candidate to our personal values. Since he lost the primary, we got behind Hilary, but I told hubby and my Trump friends that I thought Trump had a good chance because I know the center of gravity values in this big beautiful country of ours is closer to Trump than Hilary. However, since the popular vote went with Hilary, it gives me hope the values of the country are going in the direction of more inclusion and pluralism. (http://spiraldynamics.org/faq-basics/ ).

If you know the values within a group or individual, it is easier to assess what their behavior will be in the future. While our new president-elect is certainly difficult to pin down where his authentic values are, I personally am going to try to take the high road, stay calm, and give him 100 days to see if he may be a better president than anticipated! How about you?

Welcome to Integral Futures

Integral Futures is an approach to Futures that uses Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory as its framework.  Integral Theory contains a holistic, four quadrant model that explores the interior (intentional) and the exterior (behavioral) of the individual and the interior (cultural) and the exterior (system or social) of the communal or collective. (Wilber, 1996)

Richard Slaughter was the owner of this domain for many years but has graciously transferred it to me for which I am grateful and will do my best to be a responsible, conscience steward.

Integral theory tells us that reality arises in the presence of and through the consciousness and experiences of individuals and collectives which can then be observed through behavior, science, nature and social systems.    What distinguishes Integral is that it considers the subjective experience and integrates it along with the objective, intersubjective, and the interobjective. The effects of one quadrant affect the others and a balance of all four quadrants will contribute to the health of the individual and or  the collective.  Because of the inclusiveness nature of this theory, practitioners  have a framework that is meta- or at a higher level  that will not reduce or collapse the interior experience of individuals and collectives into the exterior realm (reductionism).  All perspectives are taken into consideration. This will not create integral but will guide and track integral attempts by its practitioners. (Esbjorn-Hargens, 2009)

It is my intention to share with you my thoughts on what is happening in the world of Futures and Integral and Integral Futures specifically.  I would love to collaborate with you so feel free to contact me with any thoughts to expand or disagree.  Thanks for joining me on my journey.

Wilber, K. (1996) A Brief History of Everything, Shambala, Boston & London

Esbjorn-Hargens, 2009P.3 http://integrallife.com/node/37539

My interior consciousness has value… or why I love the upper left!

My favorite quadrant of the  Integral matrix is the upper left.  This quadrant is the conscious subjective of the individual interior or the “I” of the matrix.  This is where personality type, gender types, altered states, normal states, phenomenal states, cognitive awareness, emotional access, interpersonal skills,  psychosexual  expression and spiritual experiences reside. (Esbjörn-Hargens)

My spiritual experiences are probably why I love the upper left  the most as those experiences have the most meaning for me and inform everything else I do as an individual.  Integral verifies this happens to everyone as it proposes that each quadrant has an effect on the others whether it be conscious or unconscious. (Esbjörn-Hargens)

My favorite spiritual practice is “ecstatic dance” as there is something about moving the physical body which also moves whatever is stuck which is able to rise to consciousness whether it be some type of creative solution or other “ah ha’s” that may arise. Every once in a while, if I’m lucky, I enter an altered state where instead of me doing the dance I am able to rest in the state of being danced.  It feels like heaven and I call it a “dancegasm”!

Do you have something similar that happens to you that is generated from the upper left?

Integral Futures and the “other”

Before you start thinking I’m about to expound on some horror movie or equivalent  such as the “thing” let me explain.  One of the reasons why Integral is important to Futures is because with this perspective it makes inclusion of the “other” a priority.  In order to cover all the bases of the Integral map or framework, the “other” must at least be considered. That does not mean the “other” may have all the truth, but it may have some or parts of the truth which give a fuller, more comprehensive picture of whatever Futures angle is being explored.

The main two reasons why I respect the Integral framework so much is because it includes the subjective but also because it has a “shadow” component to it that most models do not have.  Carl Jung said that whenever an individual has an emotional charge either positive or negative to another individual s behavior, it may be because of disowned parts of themselves that are projected on to others.  An example of that would be when an individual who is clearly angry is denying their anger and accusing others of possessing the anger.

So not only does Integral make  a Futures endeavor more (w)holistic, but it also is attentive in making sure it is psychologically developmentally healthy, which is always something worthy in my opinion.  How about you?