Cracking the Master Code: The Search for a New Metaphor to Facilitate Human Emergence

Don Beck

“Spiral Dynamics Integral is one of he first integral psychologies now available and, as presented by Don Beck, I give it my highest recommendation. It has profound implications for business, politics, education, and medicine, and it will give you the tools to begin applying these revolutionary ideas in your own field immediately. Don’t miss it!”                                                           

 Ken Wilber, author-philosopher and president, Integral Institute.

The Launch of the Master Code    

Don Beck

While Ken Wilber wrote this endorsement a decade ago, he continues to use some of the concepts from the work of Professor Clare W. Graves and only an early version of Spiral Dynamics in many of his own activities. We are pleased he does so. He apparently needed to create his own color scheme. What he once called “The Amazing Spiral,” has morphed over the years into a sophisticated, mature and field-tested model to understand human emergence, literally around the world.

The whole package continues to expand into mind/brain research, new insights from years of “real world” experiences, with new chapters appearing in its evolution virtually every year. Graves’ “emergent, cyclical, double helix model of bio-psycho-socio development” predates other large scale, Integral templates.

We all appreciate Wilber’s work over the years and it will stand the test of time. Yet, we have in mind a larger tent and wider brain width, both of which have emerged in recent years and continue to do so. A number of tributaries are flowing into this major and more complex conceptual system, predicted clearly by Graves in the l970s. We do not intend to simply echo either the work of the Integral Institute or even the Spiral Dynamics Group and Constellation. Our intention will be to “transcend and include” all that’s gone before and also map out the contours of what appears to be emerging on the horizon.

I support all of the truly “Integral models.” We need them all. The Graves paradigm is simply one wrapping around the evolutionary spiral. It does have features, however, that make it unique. So, I will use Spiral Dynamics and the Integral Movement as part and parcel of “our movement.”

This series will focus on the following two major objectives:

First, it will assist in a clearer definition of what “integral leadership” means. That word “integral” has multiple definitions and meanings to people, some rather superficial while others exploring AQ-AL depth.  Since it serves the interest of many to simply change the descriptions of their earlier packages by adding the wordn “integral” to be in vogue, one does not know what is being offered. Since there is a growing richness and sophistication around the contemporary usages, our intent will be to enhance that development. In this case Integral Leadership is a concept in progress, as more and more embrace its essence and experience its major contributions across many domains. So, both top down insights and bottom up wisdom are beginning to mesh. No doubt all of you are co-creating this exciting and highly relevant understanding of a powerful framework.

Second, I am often asked the following:  “How does one apply the precepts of Integral Leadership to clients, contexts, and situations in the real world.?” This is a favorite topic of mine so it will demand my full attention. As Russ has done so well in the Integral Leadership Review, we will add to that learning stream by searching for success stories (and some failures) to build a tool kit for you to use. Think of this as an application manual that will morph into an Apps piece of software.

While we will occasionally venture into theory from an academic perspective, our focus is going to be on applications of the body of work. This has been our unique contribution over the years within the “Spiral Dynamics in Action” series of events. We want to continue Robert Kegan’s emphasis from Harvard on the search for ” skillful means.”

Many have been exposed to Spiral Dynamics seminars, workshops, presentations, case studies, etc. for the past 25 years. A number of the early adapters are still using more primitive versions of the point of view. Some have reduced complex systems to a set of colors, or are not yet equipped to go deep and broad. I am partially responsible for this limitation. It has taken the cascading of Life Conditions and Problems of Existence to trigger in the minds of many the need for such a framework.

The world is full of doom and gloom predictions. Our current crises and global challenges are real. The theory, itself, predicts that will happen. Maybe you have seen the title of the April, 1974 article by Graves in the Futurist journal: Human Nature Prepares for a Momentous Leap. So, whether you are a novice, a sometimes user, or a veteran, please keep an open mind.

We will sometimes drop in the term Spiral Wizard just for fun. I will be emptying out my famous “shed” full of original research, applications, adaptations, original Graves’ documents, while also relying on the insights from the Integral Movement as well.

We will roam far and wide; welcome your comments and questions to enlarge our own understanding and knowledge; and ask you to join with us in a Quest of the Master Code. Think of a master key that opens the relevant locks.

I was first attracted to the work of Professor Clare Graves in l974 as I was encountering 42 different academic-inspired models of systemic thinking and evolutionary shifts. Graves’ work was the ONLY one that pushed beyond a comparison of theories into WHY there are different theories – a truly “meta” perspective – the Master Theory Maker – and why what is next, is next for some, but history for others. To truly benefit from this series of columns you will need to get your mind around that concept because it is central to our survival during these decades of turbulence.

The idea of a Master Code involves an attempt to locate and document the universals that appear to operate across cultures, domains, and time frames. This is not a one size fits all “car wash.” It is a template-like matrix that contains multiple variables, check lists, pull down screens, equations, potential wild cards, etc. to craft what we call a Natural Design.

This is not to even suggest a conceptual professional elitism that only a few possess; just the opposite. It does, however, clearly map out the shifts from the 6th Code FS-Green collectivism world view into the first of the Second Tier systems, the 7th Code GT-Yellow systemics. We are seeing many manifestations of such a shift as our chaotic world continues to explode around us.

We will align Life Conditions with Priority Codes and Beliefs and Behaviors. We expand the context away from simple levels of conscious development by looking at the Life Conditions that give them birth, and what content, issues, and points-of view that are embraced by them and are activated by the codes. We will show how to activate a spiral-full of motivations around such issues as the environment, health care, and even the design of new political and economic models that are key to functionality, rather then ideology or political history. Finally, we will provide operational definitions of the full tool kit of strategies around “change” ­– transitions, nudge tactics, transformations, re-frames, re-sets, semantic replacements, and various forms of shifts.

We will provide a series of assessment systems and other such activities for you to use. I salute the work that Russ has done over the years in starting and nurturing the Integral Leadership Review out of his own passion to have an impact. This has been a labor of love for him and reflects both his academic teaching as well as real world applications. The Review is already full of specific applications of both Spiral Dynamics and other Wilber-inspired models that have appeared in recent years. I will encourage all of us to continue to support his efforts financially and certainly in spreading the word to others. Our “Integral Movement” needs this type of publication. It will continue as a clearinghouse, a chronicle of the movement, and become a center and source for a host of programs in multiple languages.

You will have to make the decision as to whether this column is worth your time. Just wait until you read several of the columns before you decide.

We are not beyond having some fun.
Years ago the Dallas Morning News asked me to write a bi-weekly column on Sports Values. Those columns reflected a rich history of sports in the city over those years. I covered the Dallas Cowboys, the Texas Rangers, the Dallas Mavericks, as well as high school and college activities. I had to write for “Billy Bobs” and three-piece suits, soccer moms, cynics of various stripes as well as people who knew a great deal more about the topics in the city.

I will occasionally generate these columns in this more popular style. Other times I will be more formal, academic, and precise. I would often fax in my column from Cape Town, or Munich, or London, or Sao Paulo – I was known to be opinionated — and that will not change. Just forgive me for all of my metaphors, especially from the field of sports. And, I can’t help that I am from Texas. Everybody has to be from somewhere. By the way, a new version of the famous TV series called DALLAS and starring J.R. Ewing is being remade for release soon.

I just met with the new Mayor of Dallas, Mike Rawlings, to seek new approaches to develop South Dallas from decades of neglect and even race-based viewpoints. I offered him a new narrative to replace and supplant the old one:
Getting rid of what we don’t want is NOT the same thing as getting what we do want.

Dr. Don Beck
The Spiral Dynamics Group
Global Center for Human Emergence

940-383-1209 (office)
940-300-6363 (mobile)
940-382-4597 (fax)

1 Comment

  1. Said E. Dawlabani on March 25, 2012 at 11:21 am

    Thank you Don for this wonderful summary of the history of this emerging science of value systems and the work you continue to do to make sure it stays grounded in reality. Here are 2 links to articles that show the spread of the work in the Middle East and might serve as a template for Arab countries looking beyond the Arab Spring
    On the behalf of all the Spiral Wizards who you helped shape their thinking and vision of the future, I thank you.