Madrid: A New Opportunity to Improve a Social Reality

Roberto Bonnilla Nunez and Catia Bernaldo de Quiros

Roberto Bonilla Núñez and Catia Bernaldo de Quirós

Roberto Bonilla

Roberto Bonilla

Catia Bernaldo de Quirós

Catia Bernaldo de Quirós

Last October 2012, Dr. Don Beck was invited by a chapter of the Spanish Integral  Association to deliver a Spiral Dynamics Integral workshop (certification level 1). This invitation  was issued thanks to the diligent efforts of Catia Bernaldo de Quirós who several months before started exchanging emails with Dr. Beck and at the same time looking for funds to make this event a reality

It was at the end of August when Dr. Beck invited me (Roberto Bonilla) to go to Madrid along with him and share this wonderful opportunity. Of course the logistic details and very valuable methodological recommendations came from our friend Petra Pieterse, who – literally – helped us behind the scenes to improve our interdependent mess that Don and I created in several ways,

When Russ invited me to write about this experience, I invited Catia to co-author this article, the following part is the what she describes about this incredible event:

The visit of Don E. Beck to Madrid has been an experience so memorable in every way as it has been transformative. We organized two events, a lecture at the Faculty of Education of the Autonomous University of Madrid and a certification course in SDi hosted by the Spanish Integral Association.

Picture 1: Don, Roberto and Celia

Picture 1: Don, Roberto and Celia

With Don everything is always surprisingly and unexpectedly brilliant. Everything went well and in the direction of the objectives held by all persons who have participated in making this possible. It was clear: people who already knew Don’s work could elaborate on it and practice with regard to its application, and in this way to continue the applications in Spain.

Picture 2: Don Beck delivering the SDi workshop Level 1 centrification

Picture 2: Don Beck Delivering the SDi Workshop Level 1 Certification

As is generally known, Spain is currently going through a difficult period needing important changes that require an awareness by the Spanish, from a cognitive point of view. They have to take responsibility for each major aspect of social coexistence.

Picture 3: The group in action! Reading Spanish reality with SDi

Picture 3: The Group in Action! Reading Spanish Reality with SDi

Picture 4: Dr. Beck explaining in a lucid way the different ways to structure a company according to SDi

Picture 4: Dr. Beck Explaining in a Lucid Way the Different Ways to Structure a Company According to SDi

This implies the need for a common language to try and understand the complexity, new communication channels that allow citizens a perspective and greater understanding within the dynamics of current reality. Spiral Dynamics is a valuable tool for this, so the time Don was in Madrid was strategically appropriate.

Picture 5: Dr. Beck and the new SDi constellation members in Spain

Picture 5: Dr. Beck and the New SDi Constellation Members in Spain

Catia continues describing the conference Dr. Beck delivered at the Autonomous University of Madrid:

  • Presentation by Don E. Beck at UAM: A milestone for aligning the Integral perspective and the University, as an interdisciplinary event generated from an educational perspective. Attended by educators, psychologists, mediators and career technical graduates.
Picture 6: The School of Education at the Autonomous University of Madrid

Picture 6: The School of Education at the Autonomous University of Madrid

  • Don also briefly explained the fundamentals of the Spiral, including the practices related to teaching, He gave examples, such as the Humane School in Mexico and especially invited the university community to undertake research from the perspective of SDi. Following this, currently there is progress in fashioning a university magazine whose purpose will be to promote, collect and disseminate the research and experiences applying the SDi model.
Picture 7: Dr. Beck delivering the conference at the University

Picture 7: Dr. Beck Speaking at the University Conference

  • Also there is progress in the creation of a research group from which we will be able promote this research work from the academic perspective, either through specific projects in different areas, theses, publications, events, training courses, etc.

As I (Roberto) have experienced in several vistis by Don to Mexico, Don looks for opportunities to know more about the current economic and social crisis in Spain, as well their cultural manifestations. He is always asking me to formulate questions for taxi drivers, waitresses, or any people who could inform us in a very informal way. All these ideas, generate long conversations about the way the Spanish could handle their crisis and how these events are interwoven in the Spanish mindsets, as well as with changes in other parts of the globe.

We were comparing the GNP per capita of Spain with other Latin American countries, recognizing – in this case – that Spain, even with the crisis is in fact in a much better position than other countries. What the Spanish were wanting and missing was the higher level they previously had been living. The new life conditions made them feel in despair.

We also explored the business opportunities that this crisis opens to young people, considering this part of the population is suffering a huge lack of job opportunities. But as  a hypothesis, we formulated the possibility that the educational systems were not fostering the entrepreneurship skills in these young and well educated people.

So, despite the new ventures business opportunities that  are there, the Orange (5th level) mindset is not already awakened, since their expectations were focused in a 4th level (Blue) perspective of getting a good job, good salary and benefits for their entire life.

We also were invited to attend to a meeting in Plaza Sol, were a group of people gather every week to exchange ideas to improve their society. There Dr. Beck explained to them how to design a better society that includes the perspectives  of all stakeholders, while stressing the importance of defining the desired change, not only getting rid off what they do not like about current affairs.

Picture 8: Dr. Beck at Plaza del Sol

Picture 8: Dr. Beck at Plaza del Sol

To view a bilingual video of Dr. Beck speech:

Now Catia describes what has happened after our visit to Madrid:

After Don´s visit to Madrid, we have undertaken a number of initiatives that are practical and tangible. In addition to the initiatives in academia mentioned above, we have created a group on Yahoo ( ) as an opportunity to share experiencies and information Exchange that includes the Spiral related to all Spanish speakers, from both continents. This is working in a joint configuration of the Center for Human Emergence in Spain, both from Madrid and Barcelona.

All these initiatives are only the beginning of a new stage in the journey of the spiral and from Spain in order to consolidate the work of Don within academia and also to disseminate and implement this work through projects that promote sustainable and social responsibility through education and mediation intervention in the private sphere.

About the Authors

Roberto Bonilla Núñez has a degree in mechanical and management engineering and a Masters in Engineering at Monterrey Tech. He is the head of the Center for Human Eemergence in Mexico and Latin America. He is working toward his PhD degree at the Adizes Graduates School focusing on whole transformation of societies. , web page and

Catia Bernaldo de Quirós has a degree in Pedagogy (UCM), Master of Human Resource Management, Specialist in Mediation and Conflict Resolution (UCM – IMEDIA) and Educational Research (DEA in Sociology of Education). She shares this research at the Autonomous University of Madrid (Faculty of Education) with mediation and consulting activities. During the last five years she has been applying the  integral approach of Ken Wilber and Spiral Dynamics of Don E. Beck to education and mediation and conflict resolution.