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The Heart and Soul of the Spiral Dynamics Movement

The  Heart and Soul of the Spiral Dynamics Movement

Welcome to Spiral Dynamics Integral (SDi), the remarkable body of work attracting a growing constellation of thousands of people around the world. Spiral Dynamics Integral, or SDi for short, concerns itself with the deep complexity codes that shape our many worlds.

Conceived and led by Dr. Don Beck, a leading global authority on value systems, societal change, and stratified democracy, SDi is an advanced extension and elaboration of the biopsychosocial systems concept originated by the late Dr. Clare W. Graves of Union College, New York, and later developed as Spiral Dynamics - a model that Canada’s Maclean’s Magazine rather grandly dubbed  “The Theory that Explains Everything.”

Well, almost …

The model describes and makes sense of the enormous complexity of human existence, and then shows how to craft elegant, systemic problem – solutions that meet people and address situations where they are.

Spiral DynamicsTM reveals the hidden complexity codes that shape human nature, create global diversities, and drive evolutionary change. These dynamic Spiral forces attract and repel individuals, form the webs and meshes that connect people within groups, communities and organizations, and forge the rise and fall of nations and cultures.

Spiral Dynamics meshes the new science of memetics with Gravesian value systems to form “value memes” or “vMemes” to craft a model of transformational change. By exploring and describing the core intelligences and deep values that flow beneath what we believe and do, the model offers a profoundly incisive, dynamic perspective on complex matters such as:

  • HOW people think about things (as opposed to “what” they think)
  • WHY people make decisions in different ways
  • WHY people respond to different motivators
  • WHY and HOW values arise and spread
  • The nature of CHANGE

This powerful conceptual system has been field-tested in some of the most complex environments on the planet, from inner-city Chicago to racially plagued South Africa. Since the focus is on the deeper vMemetic foundations, Spiral Dynamics suggests ways to move more quickly in the direction of deep dialogue and comprehensive, integral solutions.

MICRO applications of Spiral Dynamics are found around the world in a variety of developmental, counseling and coaching projects. For example, leaders in a growing number of local, national and international youth development projects are currently using Spiral Dynamics Integral concepts.

MESO applications of Spiral Dynamics look through a wider lens between and among groups of people in large corporations, within local communities, and even as distinctive cultures in city-states and entire countries. As our world is now moving into the next stage of cultural pluralism and diversity programs, Spiral Dynamics offers a point of view that looks at the evolutionary dynamic of the deep underlying values systems.

MACRO applications of Spiral Dynamics re-examine the whole globalization issue through an entirely new lens. The focus is on the underlying vMeme currents and contours of the diverse, competing economic, political, health care, education, religious, and community-based models.

Spiral Dynamics connects everything to everything else. For example: The work shows clearly why attempts to deal with the HIV pandemic only through medical solutions fail dismally unless equal time and resources are spent on the interior, cultural Dynamics that contribute to the spread of the virus. It also demonstrates why simplistic, fragmented approaches to international and domestic terrorism, crime and drug-related problems, education, economic and social development – the list is endless – and the complexity of challenges in the Middle East and other hot spots around the globe will continue to confound us unless we integrate, align and synergize the efforts of all these stakeholders.



   Image result for spiral dynamics






I really like how Mackey describes each value system meme with bulleted lists describing the unique Characterstics, How they Make Decisions, Education, Family, Community & Life Space.

The only problem with the layout of all of this information in a linear fashion is that it has been really hard to compare and contrast the different vMemes with each other. That was why I created a Cheat Sheet Graphic with all of the six categories and characteristics in one big massive table.


Image result for spiral dynamics   



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  1. "a leading global authority on value systems, societal change, and stratified democracy, Spiral Dynamics reveals the hidden complexity codes that shape human nature, create global diversities, and drive evolutionary change"


    • HOW people think about things (as opposed to “what” they think)
    • WHY people make decisions in different ways
    • WHY people respond to different motivators
    • WHY and HOW values arise and spread
    • The nature of CHANGE


    Meme distribution data

    MEMESpiral Dynamics (1996)1Don Beck update (2002)2Describes Most People (2003)3Dominates the Planet (2003)4
    BEIGE0.1 %0.4 %8.6 %6.2 %
    PURPLE10 %12 %12.5 %20.0 %
    RED20 %18 %24.6 %14.0 %
    BLUE40 %30 %30.3 %20.6 %
    ORANGE30 %27 %18.8 %35.2 %
    GREEN10 %9 %2.7 %1.1 %
    YELLOW1 %3 %1.7 %1.6 %
    TURQUOISE0.1 %0.6 %0.8 %1.3 %
    TOTAL111.2 %100 %100 %100 %

    1. D. Beck & C. Cowan, Spiral Dynamics: Mastering values, leadership and change, Blackwell, 1996, p. 300-301.
    2. Email communication Don Beck, 29 Jan 2002. (Corrected for 100% total)
    3,4 Email communication Alan Tonkin, Chairman: Global Values Network, 18 Feb 2003. Based on QuickSCAN survey of 639 respondents, 80% of which favour GREEN/YELLOW/TURQUOISE.

    Some visual representations of the data in column 3 (Most Global People) can be found here



    nondual"fourth tier"
    transpersonal"third tier"
    existentialsecond tier
    (pre)personalfirst tier

    " S E C O N D   T I E R "
    Late vision logic
    TURQUOISE, GlobalView
    Experientialistic Existence
    Second Being Level
    Middle vision logic
    YELLOW, FlexFlow
    Cognitive Existence
    First Being Level
    " F I R S T   T I E R "
    Early vision logic
    GREEN, HumanBond
    Personalistic Existence
    Fifth Subsistence Level
    Mental-egoicORANGE, StriveDrive
    Materialistic Existence
    Fifth Subsistence Level
    Mythic-membershipBLUE, ThuthForce
    Saintly Existence
    Fourth Substence Level
    Magic-typhonicRED, PowerGods
    Egocentric Existence
    Third Subsistence Level
    Magic-typhonicPURPLE, KinSpirits
    Tribalistic Existence
    Second Subsistence Level
    Archaic-uroboricBEIGE, SurvivalSense
    Automatic existence
    First Subsistence Level


    1) K. Wilber, Integral Psychology: Consciousness, Spirit, Psychology, Therapy, Shambhala, 2000.
    2) E. Beck & C. Cowan, Spiral Dynamics: Mastering Values, Leadership and Change, Blackwell Business, 1996.
    3) C. Graves, "Human Nature Prepares for a Momentous Leap", The Futurist, April 1974, pp. 72-87.



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