Have you noticed that some departments of your organization speak different languages? Accounting, sales, IT - as if from different worlds? And while the IT world is usually the most distant and incomprehensible ...
How to find mutual understanding? How to understand the reasons for this or that behavior, predict the reaction and find the best approaches for convincing and motivating a particular person?
Also, this topic may be useful for HR-specialists and managers who select personnel. How to find people who best fit into the existing organization? Or, on the contrary, how to “update” the state or “living conditions” in order to move the company to a new level?
The answers to these questions can be clarified using the theory of spiral dynamics, which is now put on a par with the theory of systems and the theory of chaos. The author of the theory is the American psychology professor, Claire W. Graves, who developed the theory thanks to his followers Don Beck and Chris Cowan, whose book Spiral Dynamics: Managing Values, Leadership, and Changes in the 21st Century is also available in Russian.
What is Mem and cMem?
If the phrase at the beginning of the title caused you to recognize, perhaps a smile, a number of associations — you remembered certain images, characteristic sounds, and most importantly, the atmosphere — that means Meme. But perhaps this is not familiar, but another is well recognized - for example, the ordinary number 42 - can cause any kind of associations, but some people include a whole philosophy of the world and lifestyle ... And the list of examples can be continued indefinitely - how many generations there were social, ethnic, professional groups - as many sets of memes can be found.
Memes are “self-replicating patterns of information that spread themselves ...” (Richard Dawkins). As Don Beck and Chris Cowan write, “like an intelligent virus, Meme breeds through various concepts such as clothing styles, new words in language, standards of popular culture, architectural design, art forms, religious expressions, social movements, economic models and moral imperatives on how life should be built. ” A more generalized level of memes are cmemes — value memes, dynamic structures associated with living conditions, defining our system of values and beliefs, and influencing decision making.
Spiral Dynamics cMem
Without going into details, we will describe the main ideas necessary for understanding and applying spiral dynamics.
Under the influence of the Conditions of Life (VL), uMs have a tendency to change in a certain sequence (“develop, rise up, regress, or subside as a result”). Moreover, both historically (in generations of people, in individual countries), and in the process of life, a person passes through various levels. The currently dominant level determines the person’s worldview and behavior. All levels below are available to him and can manifest themselves in various situations. Levels of a higher order are inaccessible for understanding and acceptance, causing resistance until the Living Conditions change and the person is ready for the transition.
For ease of use, colors assigned to the levels of the Memories are associatively reflecting the specific features of this level. In addition, two poles, “I” and “We,” can be distinguished on the spiral, and these poles are successively replaced. The first 6 levels make up the first order of the spiral, the “Existence” cmemes, and then begin the second-order levels of the cTeme “Being”.
So, let's start the journey from the very first level - BEIGE, at the “I” pole. This level of survival, characteristic of primitive man, is now found in infants, people with mental illness and in victims of war. Only basic needs are relevant - in food, water, warmth, sex and safety.
With the increase in strength and knowledge, people are moving to the pole "We", on the PURPLE level, begin to unite in families, clans, teams. Rituals, as well as reverence for sacred places, objects, memories, help maintain peace and comfort. This "magic" and "family" cMem is still relevant today in families with traditions, in corporations of the "family" type, in sports teams. If you have a family photo on the table, a magnet from the journey on the fridge, and a security amulet on the keychain, then these are manifestations of the violet level.
And there comes a time when strong Alphas grow in the tribe, eager for conquest. And begins the cult of the Force, the RED level, the pole of "I", a pronounced egocentrism. Each of us passed this level in 2-3 years, and it is possible during the teenage period, and this level dominates in the “wild market” to this day. Who has the power and money - he is right. Often the sales department is based on this level.
With the accumulation of power and power, there is a need for stability and order, and then society moves to the BLUE level, the pole “We”, or rather even the “System”. Blue organizations are hierarchical and clearly structured, rigid discipline and self-discipline are natural. Everyone knows their place and works in the name of a great goal. A striking example is the church and military organizations, the traditional school and state-owned enterprises, accounting and personnel records management. If your company is just starting to enter job descriptions and electronic keys to control the time of work - then you are at the beginning of the transition to the blue level.
The blue hierarchy is either destroyed by a recession to the red level (as it was repeatedly in our country), or it moves to the next level - ORANGE, created by entrepreneurs and "attainers". The world is full of resources and opportunities; the one who gives the impression of being the most successful wins the competition. Orange strives for self-development: certification trainings, motivational seminars, personal coaching are necessary to be among the best.
The race for success sometimes leads to a sudden understanding that there are more priority values, and the spiral is again swinging in the direction of “We” - to the GREEN level. Team, understanding, social network come to the fore. Equal opportunities for the development and growth of everyone, the protection of human rights and the environment as a whole are more important than economic benefits. The green level is typical of social projects, and is increasingly evident in North European organizations.
The following levels begin the second order of the helix, the “Being” Diagrams.
The YELLOW level, according to D. Beck and K. Kovana, began to emerge about 50 years ago, with the advent of global information technology, the theory of chaos (synergetics). Yellow is flexible and free, he is ready to learn at any time and from any source, “adjusting” to the levels of the first order. At the forefront of interest and creativity, competence and functionality, the acquisition of personal freedom without prejudice to others. Yellow is easier to understand and accept people and organizations with dominant levels of the first order than, on the contrary, to be accepted by them. Often, this is the reason for the complexity of the adaptation of talented IT specialists in “red” and “blue” organizations.
The TURQUOIS level is still rarely seen in ordinary organizations, and a good illustration of it (interlacing symmetrical second levels of the spiral - turquoise and violet) can be seen in J. Cameron’s Avatar movie. Everything is permeated with energy and information, and the consequences of my actions are global. The reflections of turquoise manifest themselves in our daily life in the fact that each new generation of children is easier and faster to master modern information technologies, immediately knowing intuitively what actions need to be performed.
Of course, the descriptions of the levels here are only abstract, to deepen the topic, you can read a book, articles by the literary editor of the Russian translation Anatoly Balyaev, as well as materials from other researchers. In addition, Don Beck has already been going to Moscow several times to conduct training, so there is a chance to personally communicate with the author.
So, if the picture of the spiral is cleared, look through the whole spectrum at the organization in which you work, at the various departments and employees, finally, at yourself. Recall other organizations in which you worked. Are the causes of conflicts and contradictions becoming clearer? Moreover, the contradictions are almost irreconcilable, since they arise on the basis of values and beliefs, and not objective facts, and, accordingly, are not subject to argumentation.
It will be interesting to consider examples of organizations with pronounced dominant levels in your comments.
Diagnostics is the first step to applying the theory of spiral dynamics in practice. The next, more practical step is a forecast. Knowing the currently dominant level (or mixed levels), you can predict the reaction to your suggestions and ideas.
An even more useful step is to predict this reaction in advance, to reformulate your proposals for the value language of the appropriate level. For example, you need arguments for the acquisition of new software.
- “According to competitive intelligence, the market leader uses this software, and now we have the opportunity to buy it at the most favorable conditions. Figuratively speaking, as long as our competitors can only afford the Nine, we will show them our strength, overtaking on the Maseratti, ”
- “We have been cooperating with suppliers of this software for many years, which has proved its stability and reliability. To ensure compatibility with the head office systems, we need to purchase the next version ... ",
- “Our main competitive advantage is the use of the latest, most advanced software. By purchasing it now, we will take a leading position in the market and increase profits by 20%. "
I think it will be easy for you to determine to what level these arguments are addressed. Add your examples in the comments.
Another application is recruitment. At the interview with the programmers, we “listen” to the value level of the candidates, asking them a simple question - “Imagine as if you were already working in a project, and in 3-4 months you look back - what was most important for you in this?” Also, the values and beliefs are heard in other answers of the candidate; it is only necessary to focus the attention through the spectrum of the spiral.
If you are in charge of a company, you can not only select personnel that meet your vision, but also, by providing appropriate "living conditions", increase the manifestation of the desired level. Techniques of "multicolor management" I will share in the next topic.