About Spiral Dynamics > Caveats
"The spiral" isn’t a typological model; it’s a way of thinking. The “types of people” school continues to promote this theory as a way to sort everyone into over-simplified
categories and rigid boxes. Even worse, a few then offer ways to manipulate people based on those false assumptions. Whether maneuvering people for ostensibly positive or negative reasons, that is still not a proper
use because the aspects of human nature this model addresses can
change. That is not our approach.
NVCC's SPIRAL DYNAMICS® programs depict complexes of flowing systems within people as life conditions
in their worlds and internal neurobiological systems interact—our
approach never puts people into pigeonholes or boxes. We describe systems for coping with living, and how those systems
Dr. Graves often said, "Beware of finding simplicity that is not there." The “emergent, cyclical, double-helix model of adult biopsychosocial systems development” of Dr. Clare W. Graves is
far more complex than many presenters suggest. Much attention goes to
the superficial categories rather than the engine that drives human
But also, beware of complications that don’t serve the theory. The models
are elegant and sometimes others represent them as wrapped in details that contribute little of substance and only add confusion.
This is a theory of how people think about things, not a catalogue of
things they think about, nor a rating scheme for grading human
People may talk about more complex systems without actually operationalizing the ways of thinking and being they describe. Look for “stretch” versions of systems that talk a good game but do not live the
worldview - talking the talk without walking the walk. Searching for
pinnacles, top-ends and personal bests are common objectives; this
model describes differences and appropriateness, not a stairway to an
ultimate state. It is an open-ended series of levels and sub-levels,
each of which represents an appropriate way of being in a particular
kind of existence.
Remember that this point of view is really about the streaking comet of human development, not the comet-tails that show up as values or the behavioral traits of the levels of existence.
Those things are readily observable evidence; they are not the
See FAQ Caveats and Concerns for