The Future of Associations

Recently, I attended the Association of Professional Futurists (APF) in Pittsburgh for the “The Resurgent City and the Future of Urban Environments.” It was a great conference! It has been on my radar, and I have been told by the media, that the Millennials and Generation Z have not been attending and joining Professional Associations like the generations before them. It got me to think why that might be.

ground group growth hands
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

One of the reasons is probably cost. They simply do not have the financial opportunities that have been afforded us older folks. With the “gig” economy and such, it’s harder to make those big bucks that Corporate America use to pay to the older generations.

Another reason may be it is much easier today to connect via social media and all thing’s Internet so that you don’t have to pay anymore to have access to others in your field. One does not need an organization to help you network as it is much easier to find your tribe!

At the most recent World Future Society (WFS) in Chicago the format not only suited the lower numbers in the association but I think it also suited the younger generations as well. The presenters were all younger than boomer age except one. They all told stories  to engage and it was much more interactive. Many of the boomers that attended were not happy with these changes, but my opinion is they were dissatisfied because it was just different from their preferred style of presentations.

accomplishment achievement adult african
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Perhaps it is time to let the bigger demographic in the workplace  take leadership in the evolution of Associations and the rest of us need to get ready to adapt. We the older generation, need to change our attitude about how these types of gatherings look, along with our behavior. We need to explore their culture around this, and access the systems that encourage them in this endeavor. We need to get on board with championing them in the evolution for transforming this terrain.

Agree or disagree? I would love to hear your perspective as long as it is constructive and not rude. Thanks!

 

Future of Food – Stephen Layman

There has been a recent upturn in the interest of the future of food. Of course, we are all invested as daily consumers, but with the emergence of new technology and the issues with current animal treatment conditions, there is a renewed surge among us to discover what our food will become. It is an issue of public health and safety that we find safe alternatives to the current state of our food industry. The important changes include:

  1. Personal nutrient trackers
    1. Customized food
  2. Man-made artificial meat alternatives
    1. Veggie burger – but not
  3. Service industry jobs being phased out
    1. Personal touch/connection

 

Firstly, let us look at the evolution of food, as society has evolved by applying an integral approach through spiral dynamics:

Levels Ideals Coping Methods Related Level of Food Evolution
Beige /

Purple /

Red

 

Pre-Cognitive Animal World

Unsafe/Threatening

Jungle/The strong survive

 

Survive

Family First

Strong Allies

Hunting & Gathering
Blue / Orange Chaos – No order/Consistency

Opportunity flourishes/Creativity Rewarded

Rules/Procedure

Competition

Introduction to Agriculture/Farming
Green /

Yellow

Materialism =/= Satisfaction = Humanity

No Guarantees – Man-made not working

Egalitarian, Serve fellow man

Respect all resources to survive

Restaurants / Public Dining

Utilizing all parts of animals.

Local sourcing.

Turquoise Problems are too great for individuals.

Order amongst chaos.

Searching for solutions to population connectivity/disconnect Current state.

Mass Consumption.

Mass Animal Manipulation.

Unknown food origins/additives.

Coral Solutions fail to meet needs of individual. Strong Self-Expression Individual nutrient mapping/genetically enhanced food sources.

Artificial Meat.

 

*The Coral level is a future projection based on current headings and emerging technologies.

 

  1. Personal Nutrient Tracking

While this technology is not ready to hit the stores, the patents are being issued. With the spread of personal health monitors, such as FitBit, Garmin, Withings, Kito+, and others flooding the market, we can expect a diet and nutrient tracker to be released in the near future. With the desire for personalized food options comes the need for personal food manufacturers. These personal-manufacturers would artificially create the nutrient rich foods that each person requires to remain in peak physical and healthy condition.

 

  1. Man-Made Artificial Meat Alternatives

This technology is already emerging and is said to be 15 years out before it is available to the public. I know that the idea of manufactured meats does not initially sound appealing, but it does open up a lot of possibilities for personalized diets and nutrient enhanced meals. It is not far-fetched when we consider the current manufactured foods, such as veggie patties. These new meats will be recreations of natural meats, but with the ability to eliminate the need for additives at the molecular level. Of course, for the humanitarian, this also eliminates the need for animal slaughter in order to obtain meats.

 

  1. Service industry Jobs – phasing out

This is a topic that has been of much debate as technology looks to alter the state of current industries – including the food & beverage industry. A reduction of jobs has already begun as servers are being replaced with tabletop tablet ordering capabilities. Of course, with change comes the introduction of new jobs to facilitate the technology, etc. There is a learning curve for the industry, and for the adoption by the public. Many restaurants will hold tight to their current state as we grasp for nostalgic processes and the human-factor. With the adoption of personalized food and manufactured meats the landscape of the restaurant could be altered drastically, or restaurants could evolve to function in the future.

 

 

SOURCES:

Beck, Don. Spiral Dynamics Integral. WordPress. 2018. http://www.spiraldynamics.net/about-spiral-dynamics-integral.html

Bever, James, Burdon, Jeremy, Thrall, Peter. Evolutionary change in agriculture: the past, present and future. Evol Appl. 3(5-6): 405 – 408. September, 2010. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3352499/

Stephen Layman

 

Futurists in the Media by Stephen Layman

I love promoting the future! The University of Houston Foresight Program https://tinyurl.com/guzsb2q has been generous enough to let me shepherd an intern, Stephen Layman. Here is a passion of his in Foresight!

Futurists in the Media

Stephen Layman

The Facts:

Foresight discussion in the media is lacking. We are expanding public knowledge on foresight, while sharing a successful approach to planning for the future, but continue to be overlooked. The communication of what foresight is, and what futurists are doing is still minimal. I will be collecting all of the articles flagged by Google Alerts under foresight and futurists over the next few months (January – May 2018). So far, the results are promising, but the traffic is not enough. We average two article a day that discuss foresight. The most articles I’ve collected over a single day is four.

 

The articles range from the introduction of new methods of foresight, to keynote announcements for speaking engagements where futurists are featured. Topics being discussed are energy, technology, the environment, government, etc. It really goes to show how inclusive foresight as a field has become. Everyone plans for the future – and foresight has the tools to guide us to the most preferable.

The Positives:

Most of the articles that were tagged have either been written by futurists, are promoting a single futurist, or describe the newest influences on the foresight community. Futurists are becoming professionals at promotion. Half of the articles received are linked back to a foresight website, a foresight association, or the most recent completion of collective foresight works. The remaining articles are of a new frontier in foresight, where the applications are being applied in fields of all types, an integral approach. The spread of corporate foresight, and the growing need to retain a futurist on staff, is leading to future-thinking in medicine, farming, housing, and shipping, to name a few.

There are new research articles being released that promote foresight as a tangible improvement to the previous method of thinking on the future. The impact of having a futurist on staff is being measured, and the applications of foresight are proving impressive. Previously, articles have been informative, but the focus was simply to discuss what the studies are aiming to accomplish, not how impactful the actual work is or how the long term effects of future forward thinking have changed business outlooks for the better.

The Points:

  • Having been a tech-oriented and focused industry, as foresight has had to be, we are well adjusted to the task of self-promotion. It’s no wonder that the most widespread articles are a result of those labors. Continued self-promotion will result in more exposure for the field as a whole. The need is for continued successful research that properly explores the field and positively reflects the outcome.
  • The expansion of foresight into new markets, and new regions for increased exposure.

Focus: Latin America

The tools of foresight are diverse, like integral foresight, which can be helpful across all cultures and demographics.

  • Government promotion, the inclusion of foresight, and the backing of futurists work will instill confidence in private sector involvement. Not only will this lend to overall exposure, but also enhance the publicity of results. As the methods become more understood the credit for decisions about the future will reflect the work of foresight.

The Breakdown:

Shared research among colleagues with differing viewpoints, as well as the welcoming of inventive ideas, from those being introduced to foresight with new perspectives, will allow for the work to prosper and for the field to become even more inclusive. The previous issue was self-promotion vs. the betterment of the field. Keeping cutting-edge trends and the newest ideas a secret is limiting the exposure of our work – as are the privatized efforts by foresight firms. The culture of independent consultants and analysts needs to be broken down. Allowing the practiced tools to become public, through promotion, will add to the enhancement of foresight in its entirety and result in a better outlook for all futurists. Also, remaining receptive to incoming ideas, perspectives, and applications: like the integral approach, will push each nook of foresight further.

Lingering Questions:

Is there enough research being conducted on the expansion of foresight as a field?

Too much privatized work vs. public exposure?

Lacking in a clear path to publication for solid works?

Is there anything that foresight cannot be applied to?

How can integral applications be used to enhance futurists in the media?

Building Foresight Capacity Is a Long Game by Andy Hines

Andy Hines, of the University of Houston Foresight Program, posted this on LinkedIn LinkedIn article  In it, he has a visual linking Integral, Scenarios, challenging assumptions and Critical Futures Studies. Enjoy!

Building Foresight Capacity Is a Long Game

January 31, 2018 by

Each spring in Proseminar class we explore the past, present, and future of the foresight field. It provides an opportunity for us to reflect, take stock, and think ahead about the work we are doing. My experience with this module over the years is that the students find the field’s evolution to be disappointing if not somewhat depressing. In a nutshell, the frustration can be summed up as “what’s taking so long?”

In short, we’re playing a “long game” in building foresight capacity. Even futurists can be impatient. We sometimes expect change to happen much faster than our own knowledge and experience tells us is the case. I suspect that same impatience we often experience with clients is even more magnified when we look at our ability as a field to change and grow.

Perhaps we don’t want to admit that we’re in a long game? Surely, if we got better at mobilizing we could speed up the use of foresight. One of the mantras in teaching foresight is “know your audience.” What is the climate for change in organization or industry or client group? And we adjust our approach and tools to be the best fit for that climate or prevailing conditions. We have learned that when we try to go too fast, or push too hard, we often lose them.

https://i1.wp.com/www.andyhinesight.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/integrating-foresight-into-organizations.pngThe figure is a simple typical pathway for how an organization can introduce a foresight capability. The basic concept is start slow, raise awareness and build literacy, and move on to increasingly more sophisticated foresight work. My advice to an organization seeking to set up a new foresight capability is to think in terms of a five-year plan.

Much as we must be patient in our work with individual clients, I think we need to be patient with ourselves as we develop as a field. As I get close to my third decade of professional futurist work, and have gotten to know countless audience and the overall climate for foresight, I have come to accept the concept of being in a long game. It may not be the most sexy message – in contrast to the Ted talks of almost magical transformations – but we are making a difference, slowly and steadily. Could we go faster? Absolutely. We need to monitor and sense the emerging future – it may tell us at some point that the conditions are right for a foresight blitzkrieg. In the meantime, while we continue to push and advocate, I hope we can also be patient and realize that we are in a long game. And as futurists, shouldn’t we be pretty good at that? – Andy Hines

A great article by Tanja Schindler on Integral Futures

I always love to promote others who write about Integral Futures and this work is definitely worth promoting here! I had some difficulties posting one of the graphics so at that point in the article, I provide a link to the whole post on LinkedIn. Enjoy!

STEP3: How to Unlock your Futures Mindset?! by Tanja Schindler

Published on November 27, 2017 at LinkedIn

It’s been a while since my last article, but some of you may have noticed that we ran The Futures School Europe in Berlin – a 3day workshop program introducing methods and tools of futures thinking and Strategic Foresight. It has been a great success, especially, due to our fantastic crowd of participants and we are excited to do more workshops in 2018.

The workshop also strengthened my view on promoting a holistic approach to Foresight, especially in Europe, a very technology driven area. If you remember, in my last article I’ve already talked about how our worldviews and underlying metaphors shape our futures thinking. To expand this thinking to an unknown area, we need to analyze those worldviews and replace them at least partial to be open for something new.

Last time, I’ve also introduced CLA, the Foresight method by Sohail Inayatullah to analyze those worldviews. Today, we will focus on another framework that supports diverse thinking and steps aside from the general Foresight approach to discover our environment in a new way by using Foresight also to discover ourselves.

A New Framework of Environmental Scanning

The Integral Futures concept describes an approach where we not only uncover the system = external world we live and its social, technological, environmental, and political drivers of change but we also analyze our behavior and underlying mental models.

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” – Mark Twain

Once we are too confident about what we think or how the future will develop we start to see only those signals that support our own beliefs while neglecting information that would prove us wrong. Therefore, foresight and especially the approach of Integral Futures enables organizations and individuals to understand our interior, exterior, individual and collective world preparing us for the uncertainty of the future. Richard Slaughter published an article about Integral Futures as a ‘New Approach for Environmental Scanning’ already in 1999 if you want to dive deeper into the topic.

For the rest of Tanja’s article and more of her work go to LinkedIn

Integral Futures and Strategy by Maree Conway

I have been trying to post this most excellent article since it appeared in the APF Compass and it also appeared on Maree’s blog.

I bet you will love it as much as I do! Enjoy!

Surfacing the intangible: Using integral futures in strategy

by Maree Conway

There are many forms of integral thinking and at their deepest level, these cognitive frames allow us to explore the development of human consciousness. I was introduced to Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory when I was studying strategic foresight, and its use has changed how I approach my work and how I think. Like any framework or model, it won’t suit everyone (they usually call it flawed) and it’s only useful if it’s useful in the context in which it’s applied.

airplane

Until now, I have used integral mostly in stealth mode in my work. Honestly, a lot of people aren’t ready for integral. They want the single right answer and they want it now so they can solve the problem and get on with their work. Conventional strategic planning gives us this process where we focus on the plan rather than how we think about the future the plan is intended to move us towards. The glossy plan becomes the holy grail, and our thinking is trapped in today. If you are reading this post then I am hoping you agree that this sort of approach to problem solving and preparing for the future is both ineffective and waste of our collective energy and resources.

A Gap Between Doing And Thinking Strategy

Wanting the right answer immediately is all about the doing of strategy – ticking a box, following a process, getting an outcome that can be measured, moving on to dealing with the next problem, living in the short term. These sorts of responses to change generate thinking about the future as a project. We observe the future as disconnected from today, we package it up by following the strategic planning process, writing words that sound like change is happening (usually in the form of a restructure), then measure it to see if the strategy has been executed effectively. Or the executive group comes up with a strategy and presents it to the organisation and says go forth and implement my plan.

This is what I increasingly call strategy in a box, contained, seemingly controlled, with seemingly measurable outcomes that are supposed to inform everyone’s work. This is about doing strategy. It’s about doing something, using a process that keeps our thinking trapped in today.

fish

Doing strategy ignores the human factor in strategy. It ignores the reality that unless each person understands the rationale for change from their perspective and wants to be involved in the thinking around how to respond to change shaping their organisation’s future, to co-create our future, it matters very little how perfect your strategic planning process is or how good your strategy looks on paper.

Jeanne Leidtka (Strategy as Experienced, Rotman Magazine, Winter 2011, pages 29-38) talks about this as both knowing and feeling strategy, to experience strategy both cognitively and emotionally.

Putting the human back into strategy development is strategy that has closed the gap, escaped the box, that has people and collaborative processes at its core. This is about thinking strategy, moving beyond the conventional. It is this thinking about strategy that strengthens decision making and problem solving because it starts from the future not only the past and the present.

Using Integral To Connect Doing And Thinking Strategy

An integral mindset connects the doing and thinking in strategy development. Integral Theory is complex, multi­faceted, well researched and contentious. Like any model or framework, it’s use is context bound and helpful if it helps to understand something better. A primary organising concept in Integral Theory is the four quadrant framework with which to view human consciousness and action. These four quadrants each represent a particular dimension of reality and a particular perspective on the world that are structured around interior/exterior and individual/collective domains.

This graphic shows my interpretation of the Wilber’s integral four quadrants to highlight what we need to pay attention to when we are crafting strategy.

4 quad

The right hand exterior quadrants are where we do strategy, where we identify change that matters, where we create change management and strategic planning processes, write strategic plans, where we have annual workshops, produce KPI reports and create new goods and services. We need this work but doing strategy in this space alone will not result in the changes organisations are seeking to help them respond proactively to change. In Leidtka’s terms, we know strategy here in the rational, cognitive sense here.

The left hand quadrants are the realm of human consciousness and organisational culture. Intangible, non-empirical and tacit in nature, this is where we think strategy. We feel it, understand it emotionally. This language alone is enough to send strategic planning aficionados running in the opposite direction. You can’t develop a KPI for someone’s ideas about or images of the future.

The left hand quadrants are where we hold beliefs and images of the future of our organisations, and where our responses to change when we are asked to do new things are generated. It’s where we as individuals either accept or resist change or buy into a strategy put in front of us. These decisions are usually informed by our unquestioned assumptions and cognitive biases. Here we also draw on our understandings of our organisation’s culture and the unwritten rules about ‘how we do things around here’. The impact of our thinking in this space is generally sub-conscious. In Leidtka’s terms here, we feel strategy, we have an emotional reaction to it.

“It’s not hard to see why conventional strategic planning approaches are contained in the strategy box in the right hand quadrants. The left hand quadrants are messy, can’t be measured, developing KPIs is hard, and they tap into feelings not data.”

This left hand quadrant space requires that we have processes to engage people in authentic ways, to involve them from the beginning to the end of the strategy development process. To make the decision to engage with people and culture in the strategy process is of course akin to opening Pandora’s box — it will bring all the elephants into the room. If we are to be futures ready however, we must re-connect people and process.

Integral In My Work

I have kept integral on the back burner in my work since I learned about it in 2002-2003. I occasionally used it with audiences that I knew were open enough and ready enough to understand and not dismiss the framework. People who understood that dealing with complex change, wicked problems, a VUCA world – whatever we call the environment we operate in today – required more than a good change management process to ensure strategy is implemented in meaningful ways. They understood the value of thinking about what goes on in our minds and the influence of culture on the actions we take every day. They understood that their people underpinned and would shape the success of their organisation’s future.

As a result, I focused my business mainly in the right hand quadrants on the doing of strategy, on helping people scan and identify change that mattered for their organisations. Using scenario thinking helped me inject the future into the strategy process to help them shift their thinking and to identify future facing options. We worked together to write strategy documents that avoided the formulaic approach of conventional planning approaches.

In this work, I often felt and listened to their exhaustion and frustration at dealing with the conventional planning approach that they just couldn’t accept in their hearts and minds. I was grateful when they said scanning and scenario thinking had opened their minds to the future. I was working in this conventional strategy box while trying to push its boundaries as far as I could.

It is, however, now time to get strategy out of the box to move my work from, as Richard Slaughter says, the pragmatic to the progressive futures space. To make visible in my work how I re-frame strategy development using the integral four quadrants. To challenge the formulaic strategic planning approach we now might tweak and change, but still use. To value people and culture as much as process. To surface diversity of views about the future to create possible futures and value what’s possible as much as we value data and forecasts to create the one certain future.

To integrate thinking and doing strategy to perhaps create a space first where we gather to think strategy, to feel it, to acknowledge our emotional responses to what our bosses what us to do, to work collectively them what needs to happen next. Where our thinking is expansive and divergent.

The outcomes of that thinking need to be written down as strategy and that does need a box of sorts. We need convergent thinking in this box to focus on doing, to getting things done, to enacting the strategy. This is a new strategy box however, because it’s not the fixed box of conventional strategic planning; instead its sides are permeable, letting new thinking in as it emerges, adjusting processes as needed, focusing as much on KPIs as on making sure the strategic questions are right — rather aiming for the right answer.

“The integral frame scaffolds the thinking activity in the left hand quadrants and the doing box in the right hand quadrants, integrating people and process in strategy development.”

This integrated space connecting thinking and doing is where I need to position my work in an overt way from now on, doing away with integral in stealth mode. That might mean less conventional jobs like one day introductory workshops on foresight that others can do better than I can anyway. I hope it means working with people on projects, establishing a relationship, working out how to bring my now isolated clients into a new collaborative space where we can have a continuing collaborative conversation about using foresight in practice.

 

Is Warfare Endemic to the Human Condition?-by Craig Perry

As a military veteran with over two decades of experience in the Intelligence Community, the single question that most concerns me about the future is whether warfare is endemic to the human condition. Throughout my course of study in the UH Foresight program, I’ve often wondered how we will fight future wars, or what might precipitate such conflicts – but I never for a moment doubted that states would continue to utilize the military instrument of their national power for the foreseeable future. Warfare has been a recurring theme of human interaction since the dawn of history, and it has only grown more violent and destructive in the modern era. The persistence of armed conflict is consistent with the “realist” theory of international relations, which holds that states will maximize power in an anarchic international system without regard to their domestic political or social dynamics.

Yet when we were asked to conduct a “mental time travel” visualization exercise a few weeks ago, I found myself imagining a distant future without warfare, where “international” disputes are routinely handled without resort to violence. At the time, I struggled to explain how such a future could come about absent some global cataclysm or extraterrestrial threat, but I didn’t have to wait long. In A Theory of Everything, Ken Wilber presents an integral vision of existence, applying an “all-quadrant, all-level” approach to individuals and collectives in both their internal and external dimensions. Building upon the Spiral Dynamics model of social change, Wilber has created a highly complex and comprehensive theory that he uses to describe and understand virtually anything, including the behavior of nation-states. As I read his book, I began to realize this might be the explanation I was looking for.

According to Wilber, each individual passes through discrete developmental stages, from egocentric to ethnocentric to “worldcentric” and potentially beyond, as he or she matures. These same stages or levels – identified by color-coded “memes” – can be extrapolated to the collective to explain how societies operate, and they presumably describe human development anywhere in the world at any point in history. Each society manifests its own particular distribution of developmental levels – its “memetic mix” – among its population, and whenever enough people begin to exhibit an emerging level of consciousness, society’s developmental “center of gravity” moves further up the spiral. For example, during the Enlightenment, leading-edge philosophers embraced the “orange” meme, which over time spawned scientific breakthroughs, capitalism, the Industrial Revolution, and various political revolutions, producing a gradual shift in the collective memetic center of gravity from traditional “blue” to more modern “orange.” Something similar happened after World War II, as much of the “boomer” generation adopted the more egalitarian “green” meme, according to Wilber.

As a society’s center of gravity drifts, its members begin to see the world in different ways, and its leaders are more likely to pursue policies consistent with the predominant meme. This would presumably apply to international relations as well: states where the ethnocentric “blue” meme prevails are likely to view others as threats, while “orange” states may treat them as competitors. In the “World 1” societies of Europe, North America, and the Asia-Pacific region, where the “green” meme is becoming more pronounced, liberal democracies often take less confrontational approaches to international relations. For example, members of the European Union have abolished borders, adopted a common currency, and surrendered other aspects of their sovereignty to supranational institutions, while committing themselves to collective security – an outcome realist theory simply can’t adequately explain. Clearly, power is not the only consideration motivating these states.

If states at a particular level of development tend to behave similarly, and those at different levels behave differently, then this would suggest that the behavior of a state can change over time as its developmental center of gravity moves up or down the spiral. This does not necessarily imply an end to warfare anytime soon, however. So long as revisionist powers like Russia and China remain at the “blue” or “orange” levels of development, threatening their neighbors and flouting international norms, the United States and its allies will have no choice but to remain ready to defend themselves and their interests, with military force if necessary. Over time, perhaps, Russian and Chinese societies may develop further, prompting these great-power rivals to change their ways – but other “blue” regional powers and “red” rogue states will likely continue to seek influence through force. Therefore, while the likelihood and severity of conflict may gradually decline in the future, warfare will not soon vanish from the international scene.

Moreover, continued development further up the spiral is not a sure thing. First of all, while more people appear to be operating nowadays at the “green” level of consciousness or higher than ever before, approximately 70 percent of the population in America and Europe remains at the “blue” level or below. This suggests that, as the leading edge of society embraces ever-higher levels, the rest of the population largely lags behind, becoming increasingly heterogeneous and complex. Second, while leaders are more likely to operate at a higher level of consciousness than the rest of society, they cannot generally implement their visions without the buy-in of those they lead – meaning they will have to package their proposals in terms the population understands, and perhaps forego some of their more visionary ideas. Third, as such leading-edge perspectives become mainstream, then pass into the realm of tradition over time, people operating at lower levels of consciousness may begin to defend past progress against future innovation, making further development even more difficult.

Such social development is also not irreversible. On the contrary, now that modernity and postmodern egalitarianism have opened up a “Pandora’s box” of global interdependence and transnational threats, some societies seem to be regressing to previous levels of development, devolving into nationalism and protectionism and rejecting values once embraced as universal. Such lower-level memes appear to be reemerging in the US, Europe, and elsewhere, as the “establishment” – social elites, government institutions, mainstream news outlets, even civil norms of behavior – comes increasingly under attack. Such seemingly disparate phenomena as President Donald Trump, the British vote to leave the EU, even the success of Islamist political movements in the wake of the Arab Spring, all display signs of unhealthy spiral development “holons,” where the various levels remain unreconciled to each other or the world around them.

Applying Wilber’s integral vision to international relations doesn’t mean that we’re concerned only with politics, however. On the contrary, the “all-quadrant, all-level” model suggests that we should examine individual beliefs and behavior, as well as cultural and systemic phenomena. Such an approach reveals complex interactions within societies, where changes in each quadrant can influence the development of the others. For example, technological innovations such as social media have obvious implications for our culture, behavior, even the way we think about ourselves. Similarly, “progressive” political ideals, such as those enshrined in the US Constitution or the EU’s “ever closer union,” may encourage citizens to embrace the better angels of our nature, driving societies to ever-higher levels of consciousness. Conversely, countervailing influences, such as the legacy of American slavery or Russian malign influence in its “near abroad,” may retard social development.

I believe Wilber’s integral model can offer fresh insights to the field of international relations, and my preliminary analysis suggests that humanity may one day “grow out” of its tendency towards violent international conflict. If I am to more fully develop an integral theory of international relations, however, there are several questions I need to tackle:

  • Is Spiral Dynamics a universal mechanism of social change, or did other (World 2/3) societies develop differently? Have societies always developed this way?
  • What factors contribute to the movement of a society’s center of gravity up or down the development spiral? What can cause this movement to accelerate or reverse?
  • How are emerging memes propagated through society? What role do leaders play?
  • How would a second-tier (“yellow” or higher) development level manifest itself in international relations? What distinguishes this level from the “green” meme at the societal level?

If you would like to contribute to this site please contact integralfutures@aol.com