Spiral Dynamics in Action > Spiral Dynamics in the World


In the Spiral model, the warm color family exhibits a focus on the external world and how to reach out and master it (with an internal, I-oriented locus of control - "I am the  power center."). The cool colors focus on the inner world and how to come to peace with it (with an external, we-oriented locus of control - "The power center is outside of me.").

The spiral winds between these individual “I” and collective “we” poles as it turns between cool group systems and warm individualistic systems. As individuals, most of us are mixtures of both. This broad swing from individualism to collectivism and back is one to watch as societies move through time.

We are now experiencing a number of simultaneous transitions. The leading edge of Homo sapiens is at a point of transition between the first six subsistence levels and the next series of human existential states, the being levels. It is a time of both danger and opportunity as new ways of thinking, indeed, new sorts of human beings, emerge to prominence.

Simultaneously, a huge part of human kind is in transition from near-feudal existence into DQ with its obedience to overarching order and higher authorities. Another segment is leaving that and rushing toward individualism and self-centeredness growing out of those orderly structures (from DQ to ER). Many more are finishing their terms as competitive and stress-ridden loners and now seek a renewed sense of community and to belong to something bigger than themselves, but not something fraught with dogma and absolutes (ER to FS).

Many business people today are in the Orange-to-Green transition seeking a return to more community and spirit in their lives. For some, the relativistic, sociocentric Green is brightening as Orange fades. Others have shifted back to Blue in an effort to achieve the same sense of purpose and fill the spiritual, familial and social void. A number of politicians in developing nations are struggling in the Blue-to-Orange range trying to move their economies from structured, centrally controlled bureaucracy and theocracy to entrepreneurism and free markets.

Many environmental and social activists are living in the Green-to-Yellow zone as they work to achieve positive, sustainable results on a human scale through interaction, involvement and purposeful learning and teaching. They are recognizing that the best-case scenarios rooted in ER (Orange) are not long-term solutions for a complex world.

Some parts of the planet are still in the Purple-to-Red transition as ancient tribal ways confront well-armed and ruthless dictators or fanatical movements shifted toward punitive and exclusionary forms of DQ (Blue). Others are in the Red-to-Blue as centralized authority tries to contain factional ethnic battles and feudal monarchies are challenged by doctrinaire belief sets.

Hotspots emerge as corporate interests merged with governmental power —“corporatocracies”— from the Orange zone overwhelm indigenous peoples in the Purple-Blue range with ideas of progress and development schemes that don't fit the realities at hand, and which ultimately destroy the less complex cultures, languages, knowledge, and ecology by exploiting them with too much too soon rather than too little, too late.

Yet rescuers from the early Green, activist Orange or late Blue zones sometimes romanticize the primitive and non-functional—a human zoo—thus slowing natural emergence much as exploiters from Orange zone seek to transform it into their own image or as “missionaries” from Blue structures seek to convert to the -ism of choice.

Yellow thinking begins to question and analyze all of these human processes as concern with survival of life on earth is increasingly at stake, and Turquoise is often romanticized as looking for solutions on a global, holistic scale—but who knows since this is largely the realm of speculation.

This we know, however; dealing with the whole Spiral at once is the great challenge. It comes easier and more naturally when thinking toward the A'N' (Yellow) level is engaged, of course, though wise and open-minded people throughout the systems can contribute insights and strategies. The guiding principles, however, are best when frames systemically. 

SPIRAL DYNAMICS is a trademark owned by NVCC.           Copyright 2000-2006 NVC Consulting. All Rights Reserved.
About SD | SD in Action | About NVC Consulting | Training | Resources | FAQs | Newsletter