The Master Code: Spiral Dynamics integral

Column / June 2012

The Integral Dance: How a Master Code Pollinates and Preserves the Culture of Bumblebees

Don Beck

Don Beck

If anyone ever reminded me of a human bumblebee at buzz in the world, it would be the author Howard Bloom in his creative nest in Brooklyn, New York. Actually, his nest is on the second floor of one of those unique, historic “building-hives” a couple of subway stops from Broadway. He used to throw down the keys to a visiting “Bloom Believer” like me to let myself in, since he was pretty well home-locked in bed at the time. It was always an amazing treat for me to engage such a brain, the likes of which just didn’t exist anywhere in Texas.

This is where I first heard his story about bee life that I named The Bloom Pentad of Societal Transformation.  A pentad, as you know, is anything that comes in a group or series of five, such as the first five books of the Old Testament. Google Howard’s name and see how many books he has written, with the most recent titled The Genius of the Beast: A Radical Re-Vision of Capitalism,  and the latest, out this August, The God Problem: How A Godless Cosmos Creates.

Having just had a wonderful experience at the Integral Leadership in Action conference in California, I continue to search for a way to define and describe “Integral.” It looks easy, but is so elusive. There are many such perspectives, as you well know, that pretty well create a landscape between simplistic and complex, and many stages, levels, and waves in between. I understand this conference was designed to focus more on practice than theory, and more on the real world than on idealistic matters. Clearly, the Integral Movement is showing evidence of growing maturity and wisdom, and a rich world of experience is beginning to bubble, boil and ooze along the edges of pizza pans of orthodoxy and traditional Integral practices. PowerPoint use was at a minimum. Almost every session began with “Now close your eyes and imagine …” and ended with some kind of interactive group dance where everybody introduced themselves to everybody else for the 10th time. I would dim my eyes and imagine I was seeing the bee dances from National Geographic videos. It truly did remind me of authentic bee dances as the scouts (Howard’s “Diversity Generators”) return to the hive to signal the way to a fresh meadow and plenty of honey, while the workers (“Conformity Enforcers”) fuel their little petrol tanks, register flight plans, and yo-yo back and forth between meadow and hive to scoop and dump the sweet stuff …

Herein lies a quite simple yet elegant model of The Integral Dance. Bloom describes five essential variables, entities, and dynamic zones that interact in very human-like ways to keep the hive healthy, sustainable, resilient, and on the move.

The Bloom Pentad  of Societal Transformation

Bloom discloses that bees actually perform these critical functions as they implement complex dynamics much like a master code. Each contributes uniquely to the life of the hive. While this is only one of Bloom’s elegant metaphors, the comparison to human life forms and flows is striking.

The key element involves the constant interaction between Inner Judges and Resource Shifters. Inner judges provide the constant update of critical information as to the Life Conditions and the specific state of the organism in response. While it appears that bees utilize primarily chemical messages, humans have access to a fuller complement of feedback, feed forward, vital signs monitors, and other critical indicators to make the necessary adjustments and inform the Resource Shifters as to even more systemic change.

The Conformity Enforcers “manage” the back-and-forth collection sequences as these worker bees gather the nectar, deposit same in the hive, and then return to repeat the ritualistic pattern. In terms of Spiral Dynamics, the cool color collectives with high levels of WE sentiments here reign supreme.

However, when the meadow dries up or is over-grazed, the Inner Judges alert the Resource Shifters to either produce or select different bees to become Diversity Generators, and send out individual scouts to roam far and wide to locate other sources of the nectar. In Spiral Dynamics, here will be the warm color I:ME:MINE focus.

This ME or agency function even returns to report as to the location and richness of the discovery, hence the bee dance. Competing visions of the future have to make their case. Once that happens, the Conformity Forces return to begin the harvest. The survival of the hive – humanity itself – is at stake.

Don’t extend this metaphor too far, because it only serves to illustrate, according to Bloom, the much more complex human process that shifts WE to ME and then ME to WE. Obviously there are admixtures, with different elements of a complex system moving in different directions to solve the problems of existence.

The Intergroup Tournaments function drives the pendulum swing. It provides the motives and energy as nature self-corrects, expels the old containers that cannot handle the new contents, and continues the process of emergence. In the case of the beehive, the natural shifts between Conformity Enforcers and Diversity Generators swing the pendulum to maintain the necessary functions to keep the hive alive.

In human nature the horizontal (intensity shifts) and vertical (up Spiral and/or down Spiral) forces of change provide humanity with the master codes that maintain and enhance the adaptive intelligences within both our DNA genetic capacities as well as our memetic trajectories – which thus far, at least, have made possible our survival on Planet Earth.

But there is an even larger story here that I need to describe. It pertains to how the Integral movement understands what it is doing, and why. And it has to do with a major addition to the AQAL model, which is at the DNA heart of almost anything Integral. Ken Wilber and I co-designed an early version of the model; it is reflected in the 4Q/8L version that I have been using.

The very reason we use the term Integral is to denote the verb-like dynamic that drives the Spiral “rise”and “fall”  of the levels/waves/codes across the quadrants. And, in every case, it contains sophisticated dimmer switches to reflect degrees of intensity and relevance that mesh the various concentrations and combinations that are in play.

That is why I put “the Spiral” right at the vortex of the quadrants and levels. I stress again: Here is the dynamic source that generates strategic and systemic action. Here is the dynamic resource that includes the power and effect of Life Conditions, as well as the “glue” that connects to and informs beliefs and behaviors.

So the key to the use of the Bloom Pentad and further Integral applications requires the inclusion of this critical element from the Master Code; namely, the “mesh intelligence,” the entity that makes connections, establishes priorities, outlines the field, regulates sequences,  and contains the change triggers without which this Integral dynamic and discipline is in danger of being reduced to mere levels, stages, lines, and colors. The Spiral-at-the-vortex monitors the whole process: internal and external factors.

By analogy, consider the concept allometry – that which generates, regulates and sequences our bodily functions as we grow. Likewise, the same principles and process sequences the emergence of our collective mind. It is smarter than we are. Just like the Dynamic Spiral.

A model of what it looks like is below. It’s in German for a reason. My friend and colleague Raimo Hübner, senior project manager at Volkswagen (Coaching) in Germany created it recently and brought it along to one of the SDi training events that Dorothea Zimmer presents in Bavaria. His creation of Roadmaps in his Project Management activities may well be the best “Integral” model I have ever seen.

Raimo Hübner 3D Sprial Model

Don’t leave town without understanding this crucial idea: the key to what Integral means is within the Dynamics of the Spiral itself. Otherwise, the danger is to reduce the quadrants to separated boxes as if they are self-contained entities. They are not.

And this is the explication of how, why and when emergence and re-alignment occur. Without this pivotal inclusion, no other theory of emergence offers the same explanatory power.

About the Author

Dr. Don Beck
The Spiral Dynamics Group
Global Center for Human Emergence

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