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> Russ Volckmann
Michael C. Armour, Ph.D. and Don Browning. Systems-Sensitive Leadership: Empowering Diversity Without Polarizing the Church. Joplin, MO: College Press Publishing Company, 2000.
I was surprised (due to my own subtle or not stereotyping) to find an interesting application of Claire Graves’ work in the area of “management.” I was surprised because the application was in the area of church management or development and management of congregations in the Protestant religion, particularly. And it turns out to be one of the most interesting applications of Spiral Dynamics with an integral perspective that currently exists.
The authors describe the individual and system aspects of the first six levels in Graves’ theory as systems. They describe these as worldviews and then apply them, not only to the individual, but also to the system. For example, System Six (FS, Green) is explored in several dimensions:
- A description of the system: “Worldview: the world is so interdependent that every life-form and individual is a cherished treasure. Compelling Drive: egalitarianism and ecology.
- Benefits of the system: “Commitment to universal absolute equality; A drive to build a truly classless society; Our passion for individual rights; Identification with the plight of the exploited; A feeling of duty toward the environment; Determination to put people above profit; A sense of shame for insensitivity toward others.”
- Strengths of the system: ” Strives for authentic equality; Quickly rises to the needs of the victim; Fosters genuine acceptance of diverse views; Creates a caring, compassionate atmosphere; Carefully guards the vulnerabilities of the weak; Battles narrow-mindedness and judgmentalism.”
- Weaknesses and Limitations: “Has a tendency toward spiritual or moral elitism, even though it views itself as an avowed opponent of elitist outlooks; Frequently develops and excessive inward focus; Reaches group decisions very slowly; Can be naïve about the darker side of human behavior, such as found in unhealthy System Three [Red, CP]; Is gullible to ‘the victim’s tale of woe;’ Lets spontaneity destroy structure.”
- System Traps: “Total relativism; Poli6tical correctness; Care-giver burnout; Treating everyone as a victim at the expense of responsibility, accountability, being self-causal.”
- Organizational Impulse: “System Six organizations are ‘flat’ (non-hierarchical) with heavy reliance on self-directed work teams, decision-making by consensus, a premium on informality, virtually no distinctions in male-female roles, few distinctions between managers and those they manage, [and] leaders who serve primarily as facilitators.”
And what is even more intriguing is that at the end of every chapter describing a system is a summary chart that describes the (1) inner life of the individual, (2) individual observable behavior, (3) the inner life of the group, and group observable behavior. Need I point out that these are the four quadrants of the holon?
So what we have here is a very useful description of a holarchy using Claire Graves’ developmental models to suggest the content of each quadrant. Whether interested in building a congregation or a business this work provides a useful summary of a developmental model that is also integral.
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- Russ Volckmann, PhD, Coaching Leaders in Business and Life
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