This is something that I was introduced to by Paul King of The Beyond Partnership when I was taking my NLP Practitioner course. He did a great job of giving insight into this, what feels, extremely complex theory. So, here I’m going to try to unravel the Spiral.
‘SD is a model of the adult biopsychosocial systems development and behaviour concept originated by the late Dr Clare Graves.’ Really??!! Hmm, here’s a precise of what that really means.
• Is based around human development that provides another tool to understand why we cooperate, collaborate and come to conflict over differences in values and the deeper value systems that form them
• Can be used to understand, develop and support people.
• Looks at why we value what we do, and how we go about making decisions.
• Can be applied on many levels; e.g. to individuals, organisations, clients, societies.
• Contends that human nature is not fixed and that we adapt to our environment by constructing models that enable us to handle new problems.
• The model is organised around systems of core values.
The science bit
• The ‘Spiral’ describes the diverse worldviews that people develop and the characteristics of those views.
• ‘Dynamics’ explores how people’s systems evolve, grow and change.
• Together, ‘Spiral’ with ‘Dynamics’ provides a framework to analyse situations and plan the most appropriate actions; to differentiate the things that make us diverse and integrate the things which draw us together, thereby creating a fuller picture of who we are and those around us.
• Spiral Dynamics is a model of values systems and human motivation. It’s about understanding those deeper values that enable us to understand how and why something takes on importance, providing far more explanatory and predictive insight than merely noticing attitudes or preferences. It recognises that people can value the same thing for very different reasons and that people who go about valuing in the same way can hold remarkably different beliefs.
Actually, Graves formulated the theory using letter pairings (well, he was a PhD and Professor of Psychology!), but one of his students, Cowan created a colour coding for Spiral Dynamics to represent the vMemes (valuing systems). To note that these can change over time, be taken on without eliminating old ones and go from lesser to greater complexity of values.
Below is some of the detail taken from one of the many tables that can be found on the internet. I should caveat this by noting that these tables typically offer a gross, often erroneous, simplification of the original work of Graves. For instance, although Blue is shown as ‘saintly’ here, it is not necessarily about religion. Blue is more about being absolutistic, black and white, the right way and the wrong way, which of course can apply to religion but might apply to how a company is run or a process is applied. And, when I learn how, I will turn import such items into my blog. In the meantime, a simple table for you:
vMeme/colour – Value system – Learning system – Motivational system – End values
Beige – Instinctive – Habituation – Physiological – No conscious value system
Purple – Tribal – Classical – Assurance- Safety
Red – Exploitative – Operant – Survival- Power
Blue – Saintly – Avoidant – Security – Salvation
Orange – Achiever – Expectant – Independent – Materialism
Green – Sociocentric – Observational – Affiliation – Community
Yellow – Integrative – Open – Existential – Existence
Turquoise – Experimental – Open – Experience – Holistic/ experimental
How do you use it? First things first, there’s even more science (and accuracy!) behind it, so take your curiosity further in understanding it, erm, properly methinks. I can highly recommend: Spiral Dynamic Workshop – but be quick – the next course is in a couple of weeks’ time!