Notes from the Field: Integral Mexico Project: Creating a Mexican MeshWork, One Step at a Time

Roberto Bonilla N.

Roberto BonillaIn 2003 Dr. Don Beck and I were at Los Pinos (the Mexican White House); a couple of friends of mine “opened the doors”. We were in a huge conference room with more than 50 important people who run our country’s destiny every day. Don was telling them how we plant seeds with these (SDi) powerful ideas. He said, as though thinking to himself, “Some of those seeds will germinate and grow in a week, others in a month, other in years, others never, and that’s OK!”

Don kept talking. In my mind there was a great epiphany! “Hmmm, am I one of those seeds that Don planted three years ago (2000) when I was at Santa Barbara starting a master degree at Adizes Graduate School? Of course I am! But since then I have been more a latent seed, rather than a fruitful one.”

In 2004 emails from several countries in central and South America started coming into my inbox: “Do you have SDi materials in Spanish?” is the most frequent question. I wondered, “How come all these people is reaching me?” I decided to ask one Ecuadorian woman and the answer was: “Easy, Roberto! You are on the SDi/Don Beck web page as the representative of Mexico”.

Every time I remind Don about this anecdote he laughs a lot. Email continued to come. One asked me to have a meeting to talk about SDi. I called the individual to his mobile and we agreed to meet in the middle of Mexico City and Leon where I live. At that meeting I realized the people in the meeting were from the Teachers’ Union, the most powerful union in Latin America with 1,500,000 members. At that moment I did not imagine the way we would work together from 2006 to 2008.

In August 2006, along with my very close friends, Nicolas Hendrichs and Jazmin Calvillo, we organized the first SDi Certification Seminar, Level 1, at Monterrey. What a challenge! The costs are increased because of the need for simultaneous translation. We contacted hundreds of people. Finally, we got 30 participants; among them and seated in the back were four silent teachers, all of them from the Teachers Union.

During day two of that certification seminar one of the teachers approached to me and asked me to ask Don if he would be willing to advise them. Our first meeting was during a break. While I am translating back and forth, suddenly Don’s eyes and mind are not in the room. “Hey Don, ot is time for you to answer them,” I told him. He said to me, “Wait Roberto! I am overwhelmed with all of the possibilities we could have with these people” (referring to the Union People).

In October 2006, our first two hour meeting was held in Monterrey. Don was almost ready to leave for Palestine and told me, “Roberto, the only way to meet with the Union People is in a two hours meeting at Monterrey airport”. Don flew from Dallas to Monterrey, I from Leon to Monterrey and two teachers came, one form Mexico City and the other from Oaxaca. Also Nicolas was there. At the end of that meeting Don asked the Union leaders: “Do you realize what this project implies for changing the whole culture of Mexico?” They looked at each other and nodded their heads,Yes!

One month later, Don introduced me to Karina Eichner by forwarding an email from her. She is at that moment writing her PhD thesis using an SDi approach. She asked Don for help. I met with Karina at Leon on November 2006. She got excited about the possibilities for doing something great for Mexico and about doing terrific lobbing work. She insisted a thousand of times to a friend of hers, a Mexican businessman living in Texas, to go to Washington for a Macro-Memetic training with Don. Also, she insisted that i go along with them. I accepted. Rodrigo Valades, a friend of mine, was also there.

By the end of that seminar, as you may imagine, Don asked us to present our Mexico Project to the audience. We looked at each other and realized we do need to work after the seminar ends on that Friday in order to present on Saturday—the last day—our ideal of what could be a “Mexico Project”. By the time we stood in front of that group, Victor, Karina’s friend decided to sponsor us with very important seed capital, so that as the project goes on we will design a self-sustainable way for operating a project like this.

That January 2007, back in Mexico, Karina and I organized a six days trip for Don and us, as we described last year in

By august 2007 we (Don, Karina, Ken Dabkowski and Mushtaq Khan (both from Arlington Institute) and I) held a three day seminar on SDi fundamentals with 25 people from the Teachers Union and 25 people from the Ministry of Education. It was a great experience to see how they had strong agreement when described the kind of education and skills we need to develop in the kids for 2025.

Since then, I have continued having meetings with the Union people on a monthly basis in order to develop a common vision for the future of education. We realized that it was very important to increase the critical mass of teachers knowing SDi fundamentals as well SDi Natural Design. That was the genesis of the journey from August 1st to 14th. Don was with us from 3rd to 13th, ten days in a row eating hot Mexican food that on his scale the most we got in his hot-metrics was 8/10; so we do need to look for even hotter Mexican food!

The Trip in a Glance

August 1st to 3rd I delivered the SDi fundamentals to fifty teachers and five consultants in Mexico City. We received a great response with a very interesting discovery. The teachers paid for themselves to travel from their towns; some of them came from very far distant communities in the hills in the south-east of Mexico.

mexico students

Students in the SDi Fundamental Program in Mexico City

August 4th to 5th, Don delivered to the same group of people, the Natural Designs on education. The teachers received his ideas with very open minds.

Mexico classroom

Dr. Don Beck Lecturing Students in Mexico City

mixican student group with Don Beck

Dr. Don Beck and Students in Mexico City

On August 4th, as you may see, I am not in this last picture, because by the end of this Natural Designs seminar I was at the Ministry of Education delivering SDi Fundamentals to a group of people in order to update them before Don arrived to teach them Natural Designs.

August 5th and 6th, we delivered the Natural Designs concepts to almost the same group as the one that met in August 2006—50% from the Teachers Union and 50% from Ministry of Education. The training received a very good reception and improvement in the integration of these historically “adversary” groups.

Don Beck and Stucents in Mexico City Circle

Don Beck with Students in a Circle in Mexico City

On August 8th and 9th we were working mostly at the hotel while analyzing the underlying dynamics in the headlines in media—TV, newspapers—as well analyzing in depth the recent “Alliance for Quality on Education”, an important agreement between the Ministry of Education and the Teachers Union.

From the time Don arrived he stressed the idea of improving not only the quality of education but also the acceptance of education by the people. This needs to happen in each region. Each village should receive a proper education according to their value systems; we need to assign teachers according to such value systems in order to synergize better with the students.

During these two days we also went shopping in a typical Mexican open market. Don is with Gina under a “spiral umbrella”.

Don Beck and umbrella

Don Beck and Gina Fernandez in a Mexico City Market

On August 11th we went to the main plaza (El Zocalo) at Mexico City and also to the National Palace that has on its walls Diego Rivera’s murals that describe Mexico history. Don realized after the last mural that the rest of the walls were empty. He told me, “Look Roberto! These walls are for the new Mexicans. Paint the history of the new Mexico. You all have to build. Mexico needs a new Independence, but not with guns. Mexicans need to recover their roots, their pride to be Mexicans—in the mind of every Mexican. Your history taught me you have lived through several crises and you have been able to move forward—ALWAYS.”


deep culture

Don received a “soul cleansing” from a Mexican Indian. We went to our main Cathedral and talked with taxi drivers and a grandma that was with her big family having lunch. Here at Zocalo we also did an interview with Don in which he summarized his ideas and proposals for our country.

On August 11th a very important session at the Ministry of Economy was canceled. This had a double negative effect. On one hand it meant a big cut in our planned income and, on the other, we lost the opportunity to start a pilot project on regional development for Mexico. But things happen for some reason. Our friend from the Union and I moved quickly to get new opportunities to make good use of Don’s time.. The reason the meeting was cancelled was due to a change in the Minister of Economy!

I arranged a 9:00 to 12:00 meeting with some Directors at the Ministry of Economy to review in a glance SDi fundamentals and SDi on regional development. Also the Chief of Advisors for the Ministry of Education had agreed to meet with us from 9:00 to 10:00. So we split our team. Alejandro and I went to the Ministry of Economy, and Gina, Don and our friend from the Union went to the Ministry of Education. Later we brought him to the Ministry of Economy in order for Don to close the session.

Both sessions were very successful, but even better was the meeting at the Ministry of Education. Also present there was the person who manages the National Development Plan (for the whole of Mexico). Don described the Chief of Advisors as a second level thinker who grasps ideas in a blink. The Chief of Advisors invited us to a planning session on August 20th to define next steps, in order to reinforce the Alliance for Quality of Education.

That same August 11th we had lunch with a very important Bank (Banamex) Foundation leader and explored future potential interactions, as well their potential impact on education in Mexico. Then we went to the airport to fly to Monterrey, north of Mexico City.

two slides

Two Slides

We were invited to a press conference where the President of Coparmex decided to introduce us as offering an alternative to find integral solutions to the very high increasing rates of kidnappings, drug traffic and crime in general. We were broadcast on the two main TV channels in Monterrey, as well stories being published in the newspapers. Recalling Don’s words: “Mexico needs a new revolution, not with guns, but with ideas, education and new mind set, as well the idea that the safest places in a crisis are always the hard truths. For instance in Mexico:

  • Income for oil is going down;
  • Money from Mexicans in the united Statesis going down;
  • The crime rate is very high;
  • There are lowering incomes from tourism;
  • Brilliant college graduates are leaving Mexico while looking for safest places as well better jobs.
  • Wealthy people are leaving the country, because of Mexico’s insecurity.
  • The middle classis disappearing and this leads to a higher risk for a collapse or revolution.
  • There is a misfit between job opportunities and the skills developed at our educational system

News paper article with Don Beck photo

Mexican Newspaper Article

From 10:30 to 13:00 Don and I were at Coparmex to close the past day seminar with Q&A. There, Don delighted the audience with the Big 10 conditions for Large-scale Change and I presented the results from the Global Values Monitor. By the way, we ask all audiences, persons, groups to fill out the GVM survey, if you know someone from Mexico no matters where she or he lives please ask them to fill out the GVM survey at:

Closing Session

Images from the Closing Session in Monterey

August 12th to 14th Monterrey is by far a first world city, and the industrial capital of Mexico, its businessmen are global minded and very aggressive, we were host by Coparmex the leading businessmen organization in Mexico, we had the 12th a full day seminar on SDi fundamentals, of course adapted to this highly qualified audience. Here we’ve got several leads to follow up in a very near future to transform in very attractive projects that could have a double impact in private big companies as well to plow more seeds for Integral Mexico Project. You can see more pictures of this event at:

August 13th tired but happy we went to a Coparmex monthly board meeting were our friend from the Union, kept the board members with mouths open and eyes like a plate, while he described in a very soft and firm at the same time their experience working with SDi, the Don had 20 minutes to explain the SDi concepts and their importance for México, he was just superb! Using only two slides, the R. Buckminster Fuller phrase and the States of Change was enough to get their full interest and lots of questions. Challenge them to act upon the best interest of all Mexicans, as Don said several times at various meetings, “It’s your country; what are you going to do?” and also stressing that it is time for: “ Mexi co first, then the rest of the world”.

Don flew back to Dallas. Alex Romero and Gina Fernandez invited us (the Mexico team plus consultants that support my work while I am working on this project) to their home to have a good pizza, and talk about next steps. Gina and Alex made a very strong commitment to this Integral Mexico Project and Gina said to me: “Roberto, I do need to study more to understand the MeshWorks concept”. I said nothing, just smiled ftor myself and thought “Come on Gina, you already are part of our MeshWork”. I was reminded that the fish never realize what the water is, since they are in the water all the time.

On August 14th several consultants that work for TECNOS, my consulting company, and I went to Coparmex headquarters to outline a project to improve the performance of this leading organization by applying, of course, SDi.

My son drove me to the airport and finally by 4:30 in the afternoon I arrived home, home sweet home…

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Roberto Bonilla is the General Director for 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. Now Georgina Fernandez and Alejandro Romero are joining to this ambitious project. Web Page & Blogs in Spanish: face book: Roberto Bonilla, Skype: robertovbn.

Center for Human Emergence, Mexico & Latin America