Welcome to this special edition of the Integral Leadership Review on the momentous leap. It has been over four decades since Prof Clare Graves published his article on this topic. Twenty-two years ago I was one of the first readers of the book “Spiral Dynamics”, written by Dr Don Beck and Dr Christopher Cowan, based on the three decades of research by Prof Graves between the 1950’s and 1980’s, and the fieldwork done in South Africa and many organisations and major league sports teams by both Beck and Cowan and their colleagues over the previous decade.
Following the successful application of the values-based assessments to organisational transformation projects I was co-leading in Asia Pacific for a variety of large organisations in the mid-nineties, I finally met with Dr Beck and his colleagues in 2000 and 2001 to dig deeper into the theory and practice that was emerging in an around the spiral dynamics community. In particular, the integration of spiral dynamics into the integral approach championed by Ken Wilber was intriguing, given the potential at that time for the two approaches to become strongly synergistic.
It was thus in 2001 and 2002 that Dr Mary Key and I co-wrote the first article on integral leadership for the then first edition of the “Integral Leadership Review”, an initiative of the late Russ Volckmann, founder of Integral Publishers, followed by a very successful Integral Leadership Spiral Dynamics Confab in Dallas, and the launch of Inspiralworld in London at a major conference in 2002.
I have just returned, sixteen years later, from an amazing Spiral Dynamics Summit on the Future in Dallas, hosted by Said Dawlabani and the Memenomics Group. This event provided the stimulus to produce this special edition of the Integral Leadership Review on the momentous leap. It also provides us with the opportunity to honour both Dr Don Beck and Russ Volckmann for their respective roles in bringing this valuable work to a wider audience.
As Russ put it in his own words:
“My aspiration is to bring the voices of integral/developmental/ transdisciplinary/complexity oriented thinkers and writers to a larger audience. I seek to bridge the gaps between cultures, domains, worldviews, thinkers and doers…”
Our ambition in this special edition is to do justice to that ambition, and in particular, to focus in on how the momentous leap on everyone’s lips might help to close the momentous gap we find between our planetary resources and our current 1.7 planet footprint, together with the rapidly rising gap between the have’s and the have nots that threatens social stability in nations worldwide.
Of Mindshifts, Worldshifts, Capability and Culture Shifts
What would it take for our planet to thrive? Said Dawlabani posed this question to me when asking me to give a speech to the Spiral Dynamics Summit on the Future. It’s a great question, and indeed it provoked me to dig deep into my own thinking, experiences and resources to come up with an answer in the 50 minutes allotted to me. I was also fortunate to have fifteen other gifted speakers plus an audience of some seventy experienced practitioners to put some flesh on the bones of an answer to that momentous question.
My short answer to Said’s question would be:
“In order for our planet to thrive, we need to close the momentous environmental and social gaps we face, through a momentous leap. This momentous leap involves a global shift in mindsets amongst those that are shaping the future of our planet, in ways that drive worldshifts capable of closing the momentous gap, leading us to a thriving future where all life on earth can flourish. Those mindshifts, however, must also be accompanied by capability and culture shifts if they are to scale and engage those key decision makers and their stakeholders effectively. Finally, we need more effective global governance systems to emerge that support thriveable transformation.”
In this special edition we will be drawing not only on the wisdom and experience of the fifteen other gifted speakers at the Spiral Dynamics Summit on the Future, but also the profound knowledge and experience of a small, handpicked group of outside experts whose insights into the nature of the momentous gap and the possible solutions that can be mobilised by a momentous leap, offer us crucial context for what lies ahead for us in the shape of dramatically shifting life conditions.
This special edition has been framed around a set of twelve questions that help us dive deeper into some of the challenging issues involved in ensuring our planet will thrive in centuries to come:
- Governance- What is the future of democracy and global governance systems? What lessons can be learned from highly developed democratic societies, and how relevant are those lessons to developing nations? What does the legal system look like from the vantage point of second-tier?
- Economics- What is the future of economics and business? How can we move rapidly beyond business as usual to more thriveable ways of running our economies and businesses?
- Organisations- What are the rewards of applying spiral dynamics in organisations? What are the patterns of transition visible in organisations who are shifting the centre of gravity of their cultures and systems toward second-tier ways of being and doing?
- Technology- How can newly emerging technologies be civilised, along with their users, such that their embedding in our social, biological and economic fabric leads to the flourishing of all life on our planet in ethical, thriveable ways?
- Transformation- What is the nature of change when approached through the lens of spiral dynamics? How can human systems be catalysed to leap from one state or stage to another through flow triggers in cultures and values?
- Spirituality- How are “beloved communities” emerging to replace traditional religious denominations? What role can spirituality play in making the world a more thriveable place?
- Second-Tier- What does second-tier in action look like? How can we create the scaffolding to support the pathways to second tier and to flourishing futures for all life?
- The Future of Western Civilisation- How can the most beneficial aspects of western civilisation be embedded in a newly emerging global civilisation that transcends and includes the best aspects of all human civilisations? What does this mean for how we manage war and peace?
- International Development- How can societies emerging from tribal centres of gravity accelerate their own development up the spiral to catalyse their own development while retaining their special character? How do leapfrog technologies enable capability and culture shifts that encourage first-tier leaps to thriveability?
- Human Development- What are the latest syntheses in the psychology of human development, and how can meshworking and co-creation enhance the developmental process?
- The Momentous Gap- How are life conditions changing on earth as a result of climate change, biodiversity loss and rising inequality? How should this change our priorities globally, nationally, locally and personally? How can the momentous gap be used to trigger momentous leaps, mindshifts and worldshifts?
- The Momentous Leap- Just how big is the momentous leap, and what characterises it? How are the blind spots and dead-ends of post-modernity being transformed through breakthroughs in dilemma and polarity management? What can be done to accelerate the momentous leap in healthy ways?
In addition to the 16 speakers at the Spiral Dynamics Summit on the Future, we will be asking several other notable experts to provide their insights in response to these twelve questions, so that we are able to enrich and clarify the answer to that big question: “What would it take for our planet to thrive?”
Last, but not least, I would like to thank the longstanding editor of ILR, Eric Reynolds, and his wife Natasha, for their selfless and tireless work producing dozens of editions of ILR over the years, and also for supporting Russ Volckmann and his wife during Russ’ long and ultimately fatal illness. We are experiencing a moment of inter-generational transmission as the legacy of great minds such as Don Beck, Chris Cowan, Ichak Adizes, Ken Wilber, Suzanne Cooke-Greuter, Robert Kegan, Bill Torbert and many others such as Clare Graves, Russ Volckmann, and others who have already left earth, is passed on to future generations.
I humbly offer this special edition in tribute to all of those working to serve the worldshift we so deeply desire and need.
Dr Robin Wood Perpignan, France. Summer 2018.