Notes from the Field: Orchestrating a New Meshwork for Mexico: a Natural Designs Approach

Roberto Bonilla N.

Roberto BonillaSince January 2007 when formally we started the Integral Mexico Project, we focused on identify key leaders both in government and Mexican NGO’s. What we have found in the case of government leaders, is their focus in the next election, rather in the next generation (at least!). On the other hand, the NGO’s leaders are so committed with their mission that find hard to integrate efforts with other NGO’s, leading in both cases—government and NGO’s—to fragmented actions.

At the same time, unfortunately, in our country the drug dealers are winning spaces into Mexican society, they are well organized, with a long term vision and clear short term goals. The lack of education and lack of job opportunities make the young Mexicans an easy target to get enrolled in such “organizations.”

In last 2.5 years we have learned in the hard way what Dr. Beck has told us several times:

It’s not that we need to form new organizations. It’s simply that we have to awaken to new ways of thinking.

I believe it makes no sense to spend a lot of time attacking the current realities.

It is time to create the new models that have in them the complexity that makes the older systems obsolete.

And to the extent that we can do that, and do that quickly, I think we can provide what will be necessary for a major breakthrough for the future.

And after reading and re-reading the previous statement, we realized that the Natural Designs principles are included in such “new models” to be created, also we wanted to keep in mind the design equation: “How should WHO, lead WHOM to do WHAT…WHEN, WHERE, etc.”

So, keeping those valuable lessons in mind, we also realized that teaching the Spiral Dynamics Integral principles to our different audiences, some times focus them on questioning or arguing AGAINST the validity of the theory, losing then very valuable time, and instead focus in problems solutions, we have found in quick sand discussion, in a win-lose mode, more fragmentation instead integration… unfortunately.

However, in recent times, we have found a new way to use the SDi principles behind the scene or at least only with mindful actors who grasp the fundamentals very quickly and support the use on the SDi theory, and interact with broader audiences in a way that they could focus on looking integral solutions for current problems instead adding more fragmentation.

We call this approach, Orchestrating a new social meshwork for Mexico, where we can exchange the word Mexico, for any City, State or community, then we proceed to describe in a graphical way what a meshwork is. (By the way we NEVER use the word meshwork in our description; the word in Spanish we use is more close to “tissue” or “fabric” (“Tejido” in Spanish)

So the two key words are Orchestrating and Tissue, and in both cases we have found a far better understanding instead using:

  • Spiral Dynamics Integral
  • Meshworks
  • vMeme
  • 2nd tier thinking, etc.

The following figure shows the way we explain a meshwork in recent times:


Figure 1: The Social Matrix

We call this figure, the “Social Matrix”, and as you can see such matrix includes a whole society, allowing us to map out the main problems for almost each lattice in the matrix, of course, the problems and their potential solutions is better to “see” them under the 4Q/8L (four quadrants, eight levels) approach, so we developed a third dimension, as show bellow:


Figure 2: 3D Social Matrix

So, as you –hopefully! – can see, we analyze the current life conditions, problems as well, potential solutions on a multi-dimensional approach, considering the socio-economic level of certain group of people, their ages and how we read such reality under the 4Q lenses.

But, what about the 8 SDi levels? Just as an illustration or hypothesis we show in the following figure how we could include the 8 levels on each of the 4Q dimension.


SDi Levels

Figure 3: SDi Levels

Of course neither the 8 levels colors, neither the terminology “UR”, UL”, etc., are going to be used, the 8 level colors from SDi will be used only behind the scenes to find or validate the Natural Designs solutions, and instead “UR” we will use Physical dimension, or instead “UL”, we will use Emotional or Psychological dimension.

We think this proposal will be a good shortcut to interact closely to a common language, without expecting that our clients or people in communities become SDi experts in order to design integral solutions.

Also, this proposal will help us to map the solutions we have been finding across the country, and validate them under the integral perspective. We are very optimistic, that among those fragmented efforts to improve our country, we will be able to integrate them, connect them into a whole system perspective.

We do think this proposal keeps Dr. Graves spirit, as he stated to Dr. Beck:

Graves used to warn me:

“Don, all you can do is help countries become what is next for them to become.”

We, in turn, “help them become” by assisting them in meeting their needs and overcoming their problems at the different levels/waves/stages of emergence. It is all very simple.

Your comments and ideas are very welcome:


  • Beck D. (n.d.). The Meshwork Foundation: A New Approach to Philanthropy.
  • Beck D. (2000). Meshworks: A Second Tier Perspective & Process. The Spiral Dynamics Group.
  • Merry P., (2008). Developing A Roadmap and Meshwork for the Millennium Development Goal 5. Center for Human Emergence The Hague 26-28 November.
  • Nicholson N. (1998). How Hardwired is Human Behavior? Harvard Business Review, July-August.
  • Ruelas-Gossi, A. (2006). Strategy Orchestration: The Key to Agility On the Global Stage. Harvard Business Review, November.
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Roberto Bonilla is part of the Mexico team that runs the Center for Human Emergence for Mexico and Latin America. Since 2000, he has studied the Spiral Dynamics Integral framework, applying it in his business consulting practice. Shoulder to shoulder with Karina Eichner, he started a transformation project in Mexico (January 2007), led by Dr. Don Beck, called Integral Mexico.