Spiral Dynamics is an organisational development theory currently doing the rounds in CoE training courses.

In Spiral Dynamics we all inhabit different ‘levels’ of consciousness (v-memes) which are all given a colour. These v-memes correlate with the development of society down the years from primitive (beige/purple) to the establishment of civilisation (blue) and development of modernist and post-modern thought patterns (orange/green).

Levels 1-6 are known as First Tier Levels. They build on the historical work of Clare Graves and are evidentially well attested. Second Tier colours (yellow/turquoise) possibly come after that – and only 1.5% of the population currently operate on them. There are a few yellow level leaders, and some academics could be described as Turquoise.

Spiral Dynamics Table.png

Levels 7-8 (known as Second Tier consciousness) are where integral theory comes into play, but are much more contested as ideas. Just 1-2% of people apparently operate from these transcendent Second Tier v-memes. What is ‘integral’ about these levels is that they are not a harsh reaction against the previous level (compared to e.g. the transition from blue to orange, or orange to green – both of which involve a rejection of the previous v-meme), but rather a level of consciousness at which you can appreciate all of the previous levels and choose to operate from the most pertinent one for you.

The key thing in spiral dynamics is to discover the level of consciousness (v-meme) that you and your organisation are each most comfortable operating at. The idea is that effective change comes about if you operate from a level that is just half a v-meme ahead of the organisation. ‘I have become all things to all people that I  might win some’ comes to mind.

Crucial to Clare Graves model is that no v-meme has more intrinsic worth than another (especially previous) v-meme. The best v-meme is the one that makes best sense of your surroundings. Each person is able to operate on several levels, and the sportsfan director many move quickly from red (when cheering on his team) to green (when making hard nosed business decisions geared to generate profit) a few moments later. When faced with a sudden attack we all retreat to simple fight/flight (beige) survival mode – and this is the appropriate response to the circumstance.

So is there a best v-meme for a Christian leader?

spiral dynamics