Dialogue: Integral Theory into Integral Action: Part 12

Mark Edwards and Russ Volckmann

Mark Edwards

Russ VolckmannIn the previous episode we focussed on comparing the Obama and McCain candidacies for the American presidency as a way oif exploring the mediation lens. Mark suggested that a mediation lens would be helpful and offered a way of seeing the relationship between the vision and action domains. Russ shared an exploration of the differences on issues between the two campaigns. and closed the episode with an exploration of mediation and its many aspects. This is, apparently, the last episode in this series.

Russ: Yes, Mark, I would like to explore the mediation lens further. The Vygotskian distinctions you have shared make a lot of sense and seem to offer considerable utility. I am not sure what continuing would look like, but let me step into the dark room and offer a couple of interpretations that may help make sure we are on the same page.

I am thinking of the role of mediation as you have described it, the mediation lens. I am wondering what further can be said about the power that it brings to examining the Obama campaign. So far, the mediation tools that I can identify are (not listed in any particular order or sequence):

  • Television, which can be further refined into relevance for various audiences, (youth, business, etc.)
  • Commercial Radio, which can be further refined into relevance for various audiences,
  • Internet,
  • Newspapers,
  • Lobbying organizations, including those for industries, ecology and social concerns,
  • Campaign events, including conventions, debates and community forums,
  • Magazines, including news and other topic focus,
  • Books (here I have in mind how the right drives Obama-attack books to the top of the New York Times Best Selling list, in addition to other books that tend to receive attention),
  • Academia, including classroom instruction, expert opinion and student organizations,
  • Churches,
  • Professional Organizations (a wide spectrum of these),
  • Events, sports, county fairs, etc.,
  • Poster promotion in public places,
  • Voter Registration programs,
  • Political Parties,
  • Community and Ethnic organizations, and
  • Business relationships (small business, face to face),
  • Families and social relationships.

There are probably others. It would be interesting to consider the strength of each of these, likely variable from one individual to another, and the strength of each in the Obama campaign. What would that tell us? Well, for one, it would suggest where his strength is and where his weakness. It may surface blind spots in the campaign or simply areas of challenging access.

It may be a way to organize messages, that is, act as a guide for how to tailor political messages. For example, what are the implication for Obama of going before a mega-church audience and explicitly supporting abortion rights which McCain, at almost the same time, announces the sanctity of conception. While it could be said that Obama deserves praise for not pandering to his audience, it also suggests that for at least that portion of his audience (the ones to whom abortion is a primary issue) he is willing to write them off while courting less committed members of that community by reminding them that he is a Christian, too, with many of the same values as those held among members of his audience.

What this boils down to is the accuracy of the demographic analysis by the Obama campaign in formulating a coalition leading to his election. That is, if the suggestion is that he needs to fit his message to a winning coalition. One might argue that the process needs to be somewhat different, i.e., that Obama represents a political position, a stance on a variety of issues that represent a point of view, a political ideology and a set of values. His message needs to match that and not pander to other ideologies or values. A lot of the flip-flopping centers around decisions that can be interpreted as “moving toward the center” of appealing to elements of the electorate needed to win. There are probably elements of both.

But mediation involves more than just the tools and the message, doesn’t it? It also involves context. Economic, international, social and political events are represented through mediation and impact the relevance of messages. For example, the emergence of the leadership of the Iraqi government as supporting deadlines for US troops to pull out can be interpreted through these mediators as evidence that Obama has the best understanding of the situation in the Middle East or as evidence that he is simply talking about Bush Administration policy, anyway. Further, the Russian invasion (or peacekeeping) in Georgia can be interpreted in alternative ways to try and support either candidate. What occurs to me is that mediators are noisemakers to a large extent. They are promoting messages that distort and color ideas, opinions actions and events. Doesn’t this muddy up the utility of mediators as a lens? Thus, there may be both a functionality and a dysfunctionality of mediators. From a political campaign perspective the challenge is to make the on storyline message dominate. I notice a tendency (and my bias shows here) of the Republicans to repeat over and over again false statements, which they know to be false, about the opposition through multiple mediators. In the Kerry campaign the Swift Boaters were masters of this. Now they are using the Obama is a Muslim and other things to label him in ways that will repel poorly informed voters.

I want to come back to this comment of yours:

“In Vygotskian terms, Obama will need to present visions, perform deeds, enunciate values and present himself in roles that activate the upper end of people’s and communities’ Zone of Proximal Development (ZLD). The ZPD is a developmental zone that is defined by the difference between someone’s solitary performance level/ability or, as Vygotsky called it, “actual level of development” (ALD) and their peak level/performance (we could call this the PLD) when guided by a mentor or collaborative group. Obama needs to appeal to the PLD to get his progressive message of hope and change to stick, whereas McCain needs to aim for the ALD to send his message home. You can see here that the PLD is inherently social while the ALD is inherently individual. This is the real reason that I believe is behind the distinction between the collective focus of the progressive left and the individual focus of the conservative right.”

I wonder how this will help us find value added in a mediation lens as muddied as I have described it, for no matter what Obama (or McCain) presents, the distortions set in. I think you are suggesting that Obama needs to hold a compelling vision that attracts sufficient numbers of people to vote for him, rather than McCain. Obama wants to have this vision focus on the needs and potentials of the collective, while McCain appeals to the sense of patriotism and needs of individuals. For Obama to win, he needs to span PLD and include ALD, to offer a greater sense that both can be met, that they are conjoint.

Mark: Wow, Russ once again you’ve put out an incredibly rich number of ideas. I guess you have an innate taste for this mediation lens. Given your background in political theory this doesn’t surprise me. Politics and the analysis of power is fertile ground for the use of explanations and theories that are based on concepts of mediation. So given that we are discussing leadership in a political context it makes sense for us to pursue this in more detail and you certainly have hit the ground running.

You’ve provided us with lots of examples of agents of social mediation. As you can see, each one of these examples moves our explanatory focus from the developmental profile of the candidates to the mediating means that carry the communications from them to the general public (or at least their target voters) and back. This is precisely what the social mediation lens is for. It shifts the way we explain things from the characteristics of individuals to those media that convey the communications and interactions between individuals and between social entities. Intention, consciousness, agency and decision-making are then seen as much as inter-relational in nature as they are intra-individual. In terms of the analysis of holons, our explanatory gaze moves from the level of intra-holonic order of analysis to inter-holonic and systemic holonic orders of analysis (Mathews, 1996).

You’ve mentioned a few times about the muddying impact of the mediation lens. That might be true if it now introduces new variables that had not previously been considered. For example it’s no longer just a matter of working out the developmental profile of a voter to see which way they will vote but also of analysing the mediational space to which they have been exposed in making their decision. From another point of view, introducing a mediation lens is actually shedding light on previously unexplored explanatory territory.

In shifting our analytical gaze from the individual to the social we bring in to the centre of our discussions the nature of social influence and of how the social power influences how we act. It is not simply a question of what our developmental centre of gravity (COG) might be, but of the nature of the social environment that surrounds as, that influences us, and that, in many cases, drives us towards making one decision over another. The people who ran the death camps in Nazi Germany were not inhuman monsters. They were people like you and me who behaved like inhuman monsters because of the power of social mediation. The range of actions that can be elicited from any individual is extremely wide. It goes all the way from being capable of saintly behaviour to murderous behaviour.

I’ve already pointed out that Vygotsky had this concept of the Zone of proximal development (ZPD). Where the lower end is defined by what an individual can do on a solitary basis and the upper end is defined by what people can do when supported by expert peers. I’d also like to add another range to this zone. I think that the bottom end of the ZPD should really be defined by what we are capable of when surrounded by dysfunctional peers. The ZPD can then be seen as ranging from the worst we are capable of when dragged down by dysfunctional social environments through to what we do as isolated individuals through to what we are capable of when supported by exemplary peers. This understanding of ZPD has never been described before to my knowledge, but is, in fact, a far more realistic understanding of the range of behaviours and intentions that can be elicited from people in varying social situations.

I’d like to call this more encompassing understanding of ZPD, the Extended Zone of Proximal Development or EZPD. This extended zone will now range over virtually the entire set of possibilities that anyone is capable of in both their behaviour and in their intentional experience. You can see that the implications of this view shift of the focal point of explanation from identifying some narrow developmental level within an individual to the mediating influence of social dynamics. Of course these two foci are interdependent. And this is exactly the point. Simply assessing individual developmental capacities without also including the depth of the environment will lead to reductionist understandings of why people do the things they do and think the things they think.

So what relevance does all this have to our discussions? First, it means that an understanding of the social environment in which people live is crucial for explaining their behaviours and thoughts. Leaders attempt to influence these social environments in attaining their political goals. You mentioned the issue of Russia’s invasion of Georgia. This is a very clear example of how the control of the informational environment of a society can elicit the desired behaviours that political leaders are pursuing (in this case, to elicit the worst in their citizens behaviour). The people of Georgia and South Ossetia had lived in peace for many centuries. They have lived in the same villages, inter-married and respected each other’s traditions with extremely little friction for more than 700 years. In recent weeks we have seen the political manipulation of cultural differences bring about communal and state initiated violence between these two cultures. This situation has occurred largely through the manipulation and control of public and private media. Much in the same way that Slobodan Milosevic fabricated news reports to get the Serbian populace on side for the invasion of Croatia, the Russian government has manipulated (and in many cases completely fabricated) the reporting of the violence between Georgians and Ossetians for their own political goals. The existing cultural divisions between people are quite healthy and negotiated peacefully until those divisions are manipulated by government, corporate and military leaders towards their own political ends. So we have an example of the control of the social media as the cause for violence on a large scale. And it has very little to do with whether anyone or any group of people is at the developmental level of magenta, red, amber, orange, green, teal or turquoise or whatever. It has much more to do with the political manipulation of the mediational environment – and this has been largely created by the vested interests of incumbent leaders in positions of social power.

The analysis of the leadership of Obama and McCain can be considered in terms of how they influence this EZPD, how they resonate with people’s social environments to engage with their collective visionary potential or their more basic mob instincts. This can be simplified in terms of how they relate to the issues of hope, healing, avoidance and fear. Messages of hope resonate positively with the upper range in our EZPD and messages of healing resonate positively with the lower range in our EZPD. Negative messages of avoidance resonate with the upper range in our EZPD while messages of fear resonate with the lower range in our EZPD (see figures 12.1 &12. 2).

Figure 12.1

Figure 12.2

Figure 12.2: EXPD and Types of Political Messages

When a positive approach to inspiring collective insight is addressed to conventional and preconventional levels then they take the form of messages of healing, integration and reaffirming stability. When a positive approach to communicating about those things which resonate with our postconventional capacities we have messages of hope and vision. On the other side of the coin there can be messages which ridicule higher potential and which point out its risks and idealistic nature. These avoidance messages characterise transformative potential as unreal and utopian dreams which end in collective disaster. Avoidance messages all so tend to ridicule transformative visions. It is easy to shut down people’s visioning of the future when it involves transformational change. When this negative approach is directed towards preconventional and conventional levels they instil messages of fear and insecurity. The politics of fear is so successful because it is so easy to stimulate insecurities in contemporary life where individuals are no longer grounded in communities of tradition and collective identity.

At their best progressive politics aims for the visionary hope side of this equation and conservative politics aims for the integrative healing side. Unfortunately conservative politics has been seduced into the easy option of playing the fear card, of developing the wedge politics of insecurity. There can be a time and place for each of these different strategic approaches. Sometimes it is good to emphasise stability at the cost of more ambitious hopes for the future. And sometimes it is realistic to emphasise the real dangers of living in an insecure world. As with most things it’s a question of balance and of conveying truthful messages about real-world conditions. Unfortunately, politics as corrupted this communication process to the point where spin often dominates reality. Reframing and coding of messages is now one of the dark arts (dog whistle politics) designed to resonate with target audiences at levels which cannot be consciously pointed to.

I see Obama’s approach as a modest attempt to try to move beyond this manipulative approach to fear and avoidance while also considering issues of healing and dealing with national insecurities. The problem is that the means by which leaders now communicate with the broad populace is so distorted and lacking in communicative depth (e.g. sound bite news, shock jock journalism, talkback radio, opinionated news, political advertising) that it is virtually impossible for this message to be conveyed without being easily undermined by the politics of fear, ridicule and avoidance. I personally therefore see no chance for Obama to win the presidency. The mediating environment of news media in America is simply not capable of conveying his messages without them being shot down by the conservative messages of fear and avoidance. I actually think about Obama will not even get close. Given what the Republican Party has done to America, economically, politically and socially in the last eight years this is obviously a bold statement. I would obviously prefer it to be otherwise but everything I see in American politics and social life leads me to that conclusion.

It is not that the developmental profile of the American voting populace is not capable of recognizing the transformative potential that Obama. It’s more that the agents of social mediation which frame, influence and manipulate political communications across the many levels of American society will not allow that vision to resonate with enough American citizens for it to become a reality.

Russ: The graphics are very helpful in presenting your position on the content of political messages. I wonder about the dynamics in the relationships between the messages and the initiator and receiver of the messages. May I offer a friendly amendment of the second graphic (Figure12.2):

Relationships between Message Pairs

Figure 12.3: Relationships between Message Pairs

The message will be some mixture of the variables and rarely at the extreme ends of the continuum, because it needs to be understood as a product of both how it is intended and how it is received. Both intention and receptions will be influenced by context, as well as by the levels of development of those initiating and receiving the message.

Also, I wonder if, given the laundry list of mediators that I offered above, whether focusing solely on traditional media, particularly television, as the mediator of the messages reflects the dynamics of what is happening in the political scene in the U.S. at this time. While television is a very influential factor, So are such things as political parties and social networks. While it seems that the Republicans have successfully (for this election?) secured their base, an important question is whether their base has fractured beyond its consolidated image of the past.

Furthermore, both Parties (mediators) have been very active in registering voters. Hispanics, Blacks and Youth are being registered in record numbers. For example, because of these efforts, the electorate in Colorado (one of the anticipated swing states) has grown overwhelmingly Democratic for this election. I have no idea how these voter demographics will ultimately influence the outcome of this election, but it seems to be favoring Obama. A critical question, too, is how effectively has the Democratic Party (and Obama’s campaign) learned about how to deliver their messages so that they are able to cut into the Republican’s ability to appeal to Fear and Avoidance. Also, to what extent are the Republican’s (and the McCain campaign) able to offer hope and healing.

Remember Clinton’s comment: It’s the economy, stupid. Well, there is another mediator in how this is all going to turn out. Of course, it is coupled with the nature of the messages—initiation and reception—and it is going to be interesting to see how the candidates present themselves in terms of the variables of the messages.

I also notice that in Figure 12.2 you are using Wilber’s color map. Generally, my preference is for the Spiral Dynamics colors (Wilber still uses them in recent conversations on Integral Naked) because I think they have taken root more solidly among readers than have Wilber’s. So, in my comments I will revert to the Spiral Dynamics colors.

What does this mean, then, for the question of Obama’s leadership as a factor in conducting his campaign and, ultimately, winning this election? This is the key question I am hoping we will address, while honoring the role of mediators. To the point:

I wonder about the relationship between the variables of hope, fear, etc. to developmental levels. Can you make the case for this? Wouldn’t all of these variables show up at all levels? The only way I can think of to make the case for the way you have presented these is if we use David Loye’s interpretation of later Darwinian theory as in The Descent of Man, as in a number of his books, such as Darwin’s Lost Theory of Love. Essentially, Loye demonstrates that in his later work, Darwin indicates that the evolution of humans has an evolving character of morality. This more highly evolved morality is characterized by our virtues: compassion, courage, perseverance, self-discipline, cheerfulness and friendliness, helpfulness and responsibility, intellect, logic, imagination, broadmindedness, the love of beauty, wisdom and self-transcendence. This reflects a growing moral sensitivity and moral agency, taking action on behalf of others.

Well, just as with fear, hope, etc., I suspect the variables are also paired with their opposites in our current existence and their relationships are not unlike those suggested in Figure 12.3. But the point is that unless we adopt such a perspective as Loye/Darwin’s, then making the argument for a relationship between these variables and developmental levels is one that I think we need to parse a bit. Can you help?

Oh, and by the way, I have noticed a number non-U.S. observers who I respect (including yourself) predicting a McCain victory. I hope you are all wrong. I fear for the world if you are right (I fear only a bit less if you are wrong). And I return to the question, what does Obama need to do regarding his leadership to prove you wrong?

Before I close, however, allow me to share a graphic that I developed for a brief presentation at a forthcoming conference. It has been influenced considerably by your suggestion of the mediator. Figure 12.4 summarizes some of what we have been suggesting, but places it within the internal/external perspective with individual and collective as holons. I have varied the terminology a bit (e.g., entity and context), but the point I think is consistent. For the individual holon we are talking about how the individual sees self, performance, outlook in the context, and the nature of order with which s/he interacts. The collective is pretty much straight forward culture and systems.

Figure 12.4

Mediators exist/operate at the interface of individual and collective. But as I thought more about the list of mediators I offered above, I asked myself, why are these not just included in the collective holon. The mediation happens both within the individual and the collective. For the individual it involves mental models and maps, and meaning making processes. For the collective it involves representations and messages, whether available to the individual or not. Now have I really thrown this conversation for a loop?

Mark: You’ve generated some great ideas here Russ and I agree that your gradients are much better representations for the hope/avoid (ridicule) and healing/fear dichotomies. Of course if you crossed these with the developmental levels you could develop a matrix of these motivations at each level but that’s not what I was pointing to in the above. It was more that irrespective of levels, these factors will dominate the messages of both parties. Given that we are carrying on this conversation in the midst of yet another period of market failure these issues of hopes and fear will be dominating the messages of bother political camps. But to be honest I think that, in terms of the leadership issues you are particularly interested in, both political parties have failed to offer real leadership. Not that this is anything special. It’s really just a reflection of the failure of leadership generally throughout all societies over the past two decades. The saturation of pacifying mass media and mindless forms of mass entertainment has led us into a type of leaderless daydream where we occupy ourselves with digital sources of diversion. The rise and rise of virtual entertainment culture is the logical end of this process.

I really don’t see much difference between Obama and McCain in terms of their impact on global issues of significance. McCain is a great concern in terms of his lack of economic knowledge and his foreign policy (worse that Bush’s in many ways). But as far as the big issues of global warming and global poverty go neither candidate has much power to change things. I don’t see Obama as the great saviour at all. He is obviously to be preferred to McCain but he will not have the impact many seem to think (both within and outside the US). This market meltdown is really a distraction that will again take the eyes of both parties off the key issues. But I think it’s already too late for any national leadership group to make a difference about them anyway as far as this election goes.

Russ: Then once again, we are confronted with the failure of leadership. Does this mean that we are suggesting that the state of the world ecologically, economically, politically and spiritually has reached the point of no return. Suzi Gablik suggested this in an interview I did with her in Integral Review ( I find this very depressing. This suggests that the other end of the “Hope” spectrum is not “Avoid” but some variation on “Hopeless.”

I agree with you about the leadership of the candidates. It has been sorely lacking in both as they try to represent themselves as electable and preferable for those who still feel a modicum of hope. But I really don’t want to accept that it doesn’t make any difference. That would suggest that things are either hopeless or that W’s failures of leadership was of no concern and made no real difference or that the leadership might come from somewhere else that would make a difference.

How does the approach we are using help us here? It may be said that it has led us to being able to identify a failure (or failures) of leadership, but I think we could have come to that conclusion without benefit of the discussion so far. Your comments have raised the importance of the media, of the mediators in leadership.

And could you reply to my comment about the mediators, please?

Mark: Since we’ve started this latest segment of our conversation the world’s share markets have gone into a nose dive. Before responding to your comments about mediators, I thought I might say a few words about the dramatic changes in the financial markets and how the mediation lens might shed some light on what is happening there.

In my investigation of theories of organisational transformation I noted that there were no theories of transformation that used the market lens. I found this extremely unusual, given the dominance of “the market” as the major explanatory factor in almost all aspects of modern economic life. The reason for its absence I think is that it is just simply assumed that the market will operate on any other theoretical explanation that we might propose. We’re like fish swimming in the sea of the market and we cannot see its operation or its impact on us. It is everywhere and therefore hardly noticeable. But now that the market has failed us and so we begin to see it a little more clearly for what it is. The market is actually a mediating mechanism—it is a social environment that facilitates economic interaction. It’s a forum for communicating about exchanging one thing for another. In particular, it has been used recently for exchanging the resources of the future to gain monetary value in the present. This is what credit is. Credit is borrowing from the future. And the market has lost confidence in our capacity to repay what we are assuming the future can give to us. This results in a complete breakdown of trust.

Trust and confidence are perhaps the most important interior characteristics of the market holon. All the exterior characteristics of the behaviour of market indices, reporting mechanisms and corporate performances are worth very little unless they are based on relational trust and confidence. There has been the failure of world markets to mediate between the capacities of the future and the needs of the present on a massive scale. And if we do not recognise the mediating power of the market, no amount of discussion regarding developmental levels will adequately explain what is happening. The task of any leader at this time is obviously to attempt to rebuild trust and confidence. But, more importantly, the long-term task is to create markets that mediate physical and social realities more clearly and more accurately in their transactions. For example, the market is assuming that oil is a commodity with infinite supply in its current pricing structure and this is, of course, complete fantasy. Globally, we are using 85 million barrels of oil a day and irrespective of the reserves we will soon reach peak production. When that hits, the current credit crisis and share market dive will seem as nothing in comparison. Imagine for a moment a world where a barrel of oil is $1,000 rather than $100. Of course this economic future is already here if you care to look for it – in the Solomon islands, Zimbabwe, etc. It just depends on where you live.

I would say that the most important economic leadership issues will revolve around how we develop new forms of multilevel-regulation (and by multilevel—I mean micro, meso and macro—from the regulation of interpersonal commercial transactions all the way up to global multinational transactions. We cannot leave the regulation of the corporate world up to the markets. This laissez-faire approach of Reaganomics has been a complete failure. It has been a failure because of the colonisation of the life world (to use the Habermasian language) by commercial interests. We need forms of regulation that do not merely rely on pre-conventional forms of centralised legislative control, or on conventional forms of market deregulation and but on trans-conventional forms of governance and cooperation that combine legislation, market power and supply-chain linkages (Man and Burns, 2006).

As for your comments and diagram about mediators—If you use mediation as an explanatory lens then it can be seen in every context and as operating between and within all social entities and their artifacts. A communications theorist, for example, will explain all change and stability through the mediating power of communication. For the linguist it will be the mediating power of the word, for the media theorist it will be the effect of mass media, for the political scientist it will be the ubiquitous presence of political power. So we can explain the thoughts and actions, the cultures and the systems of social entities not only via their developmental capacity but also via the processes that mediate their involvement with other social entities. What I am trying to show is that AQAL-informed theorists have missed mediation as a core explanatory lens and they rely almost exclusively on developmental levels as their explanatory focus. And that this mediating lens is a crucial element to include whenever we look at the leadership. Whenever a population is separated from the centre of decision-making the corridors of power mediation becomes a vital issue. The current interest in integral politics is completely missing this point. I have not seen any AQAL-informed theorist discuss political issues with reference to the power of mediation and this is a serious mistake from my understanding. The developmental holarchy lens is used in isolation from the more activity-based understandings of human consciousness and behaviour. And AQAL-informed politics theories and theories of political leadership will continue to be partial in nature as long as this omission continues.

This might be a good point to call it a day for of conversations Russ. What you think? For two years we’ve meandered around a range of topics and I have enjoyed playing with these ideas immensely. Although if it has been said many times before, there has been no more salient time to observe that we are on the cusp of immense global changes. The times ahead will be complex and most of the issues we will face will not be of our own choosing. But I actually have a growing sense of confidence that what will emerge from the difficulties we face will be a humanity that is more aware of fragility, our frailties and our worthiness. Would you like to say something to conclude these discussions?

Russ: Yes, I would. Perhaps it is coincidental that on the weekend I received these remarks is the same weekend in which I have met my granddaughter, Sophia, for the first time. There is no way I can summarize this experience other than to say it is in progress while I am so enthralled by her that deepening my own discovery in the process can wait a bit. But I bring this up as a sharp contrast of energy to your focus on the global economic crisis.

I certainly agree that the crisis is formidable and frame shifting for all of us. Don Beck, I understand, has been in Germany where he has been talking about how this time of preparation for, in Clair Graves terms, a momentous leap. Leadership will require, even more, the ability to inspire trust and confidence as we engage in the turbulent times. Our thinking needs of embrace the creativity and capacity for dancing in the chaos while moving this leap forward.

Mark, awhile back you predicted a McCain win in the U.S. Presidential campaign of this year. As the election draws closer it presently appears that Obama will win, barring some unforeseen event(s), which of course in these conditions of “permanent white water” we cannot afford to discount. Not only have we taxed future generations, but also we have taxed our neighbors and ourselves with the challenge to address a myriad of issues that have snowballed to our attention in recent years. I have sensed a tone of pessimism (from my point of view), not only in you, but in several commentators around the world. Perhaps I should call this “realism,” but I don’t because a realistic approach to these issue is to recognize and comprehend the significance and complexity of the challenges we all face while holding onto this trust and confidence that we will find ways to leverage these experiences to move to a new level, a new capacity for building life for all on this planet so that we address, not only these current challenges, but also the issues that have caused so much suffering (human and non-human) in the world.

I hope that the topics we have addressed have made a contribution to the flow of integral theory development and its application, not only to leadership, but also to many practical applications as we move toward unfolding these next pages of our history. I know of nothing quite like this conversation out there and I hope we can refine this material a bit for wider dissemination in the future.

I, too, have not only enjoyed this dialogue for more than two years, but I have also learned a great deal from you. I have come to recognize you as one of the most important contributors to the integral field and paradigm. I look forward to reading more of your work in the Integral Leadership Review in the future.


  • Man, R. and BURNS, T. (2006). “Sustainability: Supply Chains, Partner Linkages, and New Forms of Self-regulation,” Human Systems Management, 25, 1-12.
  • Mathews, J. (1996). “Holonic Organisational Architectures,” Human Systems Management, 15, 27.