Collective Issues Have Developmental Levels

Collective Issues Have Developmental Levels

All collectives, including families, corporations, and businesses of all kinds have issues that need to be faced. Usually the way we work with this is to take a shotgun approach—that is, we try the intervention that seems most likely to work given our experience and understanding of the concern. However, there is a much more effective and efficient way to approach any troubling process that we encounter in our collectives.

All collectives have a center of gravity world view. This means that collectives have a structure that is built on a particular belief system, and this is concretized in the mission statement, the policies and procedures and norms of the organization, and the kind of systems that they use to organize their work together.

For example, a common belief system is what we call a 3.5 /Modern/Achiever perspective. The predominant basis of this kind of collective is looking to the future, with a creative imagination of what that future can hold for the collective. Goals and outcomes are set by a CEO with input from others, and a plan is put into place with timelines and data points and benchmarks along the way to achieve the goals of the organization. The organization has a hierarchical structure with the CEO at the top and a series of managers (of managers of managers, etc.) who supervise the part of the organization they are responsible for and who organize their areas to support the goal orientation and the outcomes of the organization as a whole.

Another belief system is the 4.0 Post-modern/Pluralist belief system. An organization that is formed around this belief will be relatively flat, because the 4.0 belief system doesn’t include much hierarchy—everyone has a voice. Leaders may set a direction for the organization without a lot of specificity and steer the organization in the moment based on what comes up, being very responsive to the complex adaptation that may be needed.

Regardless of the belief system that an organization is based upon, any and all collectives run into struggles of some type. These struggles (issues) are also organized around a belief system. It is very helpful to know the belief system that these issues are organized around. There are three kinds of issues.

An existential, or leading-edge issue. The organization or collective may be growing into a later level belief system. For example, a 3.5 Modern collective may begin pressing into the working with more complex adaptive systems (a 4.0 Post-Modern, Pluralist complex adaptive systems belief) while it is organized structurally around a 3.5 Modernist system. This can cause quite a bit of confusion! If you handle this from a breadth issue of 3.5, you will not solve the problem. The solution lies in moving the 3.5 culture to a 4.0 culture.

There may be issues around robustness and breadth—that is, everyone is working well together at a 3.5 Modernist level, but some of, or the whole of the organization is missing some critical skills that will keep it intact. This often has to do with technological advances, and we see businesses lose their cutting edge because they aren’t on the cutting edge of the next level of technological skills. Their organizational belief structure may be the same, but they may have an issue of not being able to reformat their business related to these new discoveries. For example, the business of processing films into pictures (slides, negatives, etc.) has all but gone by the wayside because of the technologies of cameras on cell phones and immediate access to photos online. Failing to build skills around the new technology can cause problems in the business as a whole. Not all breadth issues are large. There are many smaller issues that fit in this category that may not be noticed. Even though failing to notice them won’t put you out of business, the effect of these kinds of issues are real and have an effect. These effects will materialize even if you remain faithful to your 3.5 mission, values, and structural beliefs organizationally. The solution does not require a new structure at 4.0 to adapt, but it does require you to utilize your 3.5 structure in a new, expanded way.

The third area is related to the darker issues in a collective. Regardless of whether the structure you have is at the 3.5 Modern level or the 4.0 Post-modern level, these issues relate to the underlying hidden beliefs that cause harm in part of or all of the collective. For example, there may be a very negative story about the organization that the employees believe and impart into any new employee that comes into the organization. “We have a bad reputation here.” “The powers that be don’t care about us.” “This is not a good place to work.” If these rumors are true it is imperative that they are cleared up if an effective, efficient organization is to flourish. This is a positive thing. However, it is not uncommon for these kinds of beliefs about the collective to remain even if everything has been improved. Perhaps changes have been made, but the past, negative, belief systems and stories within the organization haven’t changed. This kind of issue is a ‘shadow’ issue and usually falls into the category of negative gossip which can be handed from participant to participant. The negative gossip issue often comes from an earlier developmental level (2.5 Traditional belief system). This requires us to go back into the history of our collective culture and address it overtly and create a new story of healing and robustness.

When an issue arises in your collective/business/organization, it can be very helpful to look to see what kind of issue has arisen. Each level of issue demands an entirely different intervention. If you apply the wrong type of intervention to the issue (i.e. a leading-edge issue when the issue is a breadth or robust issue) the intervention can actually make the problem worse and create a new unnecessary issue that you will have to contend with in addition to the original one you are trying to solve.

Listen to Terri and Kim as they talk with Maureen Metcalf about the developmental levels of collectives.

How Developmental Maturity Aligns with Organizational Maturity

September 25, 2018

Hosted by Maureen Metcalf on VoiceAmerica Radio’s Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations

New Year, New Name, New Programs!

We’re excited to announce some big changes for 2018!

First, as you’ll notice, we have changed our name from Developmental Life Design to STAGES International. We’re expanding our services and this new name better reflects our service offerings. It also better reflects the central role that the STAGES Model plays in all of these services.

As many of you know, Terri co-founded Pacific Integral with Geoff Fitch in 2004. She is on the faculty and the STAGES scoring series has been housed under Pacific Integral.  Effective January 1, all of Pacific Integral’s STAGES related programs, including trainings, scoring and debriefing have been transferred to STAGES international so that all STAGES offerings can be integrated under one roof. Pacific Integral will continue to offer its highly regarded Generating Transformative Change (GTC) program and Terri will continue as faculty in that program, but she will otherwise phase out of her partner role in Pacific Integral to concentrate on STAGES International’s programs.

Terri and Geoff continue to be friends and joyfully collaborate and participate in each other’s work. They are building on their past experience and rich history together and setting the stage for a more effective and efficient structure for the future growth of both the STAGES programs and the GTC offering. Both STAGES and the GTC program have developed a rich body of work and each has some unique needs for their future evolution. Each body of work will have a clear home that is optimized to supports its development:

Pacific Integral: (led by Geoff Fitch)

  • Transformative change and growth – GTC
  • Causal leadership
  • Organizational growth
  • Individual development and mentoring
  • GTC Graduate community

STAGES International: (led by Terri and Kim)

  • STAGES Assessments
  • STAGES training (in-person workshops and online courses):
    • STAGES Theory
    • Professional development
      • Certification for therapists and coaches
    • Personal development
    • Scoring and debriefing training for STAGES Assessments

Save $50-100 on a STAGES Assessment in January

Many of you have heard about STAGES Assessment, a process that identifies your core stage of perspective development within the STAGES model. For the month of January, we are reducing the price of an assessment and debrief by $100, and an assessment only by $50. If you’ve been curious about how the STAGES model applies to YOU, this is a good opportunity to find out through a process that’s backed by seven years of rigorous research. Please visit the STAGES Assessment page for more information.

We also want to let you know that the website of the Developmental Research Institute, a non-profit institute led by Terri and John Kesler, will be going live early in the new year. DRI holds and supports continued research on the STAGES model. Watch for this in a new announcement.

We are excited about these changes and their potential to enhance STAGES research, training and practical applications. We invite you to visit our updated website and share it with friends and colleagues.

All the best for 2018!

Warmly,

Terri O’Fallon PhD and Kim Barta MA

Is There Such A Thing As A ‘Level 5’/Teal Organization? – Part 2

This is the second interview exploring the idea of Level 5/Teal organizations. During this discussion, we delve more deeply into how we can foster the development of these leading edge capacities. Further exploring organizational shadow and integrative thinking, we will look at case studies, practical examples and interventions that support level 5 leadership and organizational development.

  • Why are trust and safety important quality in teal organizational culture?
  • Are level 5/ teal capacities skills that we can learn or do we just have to “be” a level 5 / teal leader?
  • Exactly how can organization and leaders become more adaptive?
  • What is organizational shadow? Why is it important? How can we identify it and work with it?
  • What are organizational polarities and how to teal leaders and organization deal with them that goes beyond decision making or multiple bottom line? This exploration is important for leaders aspiring to reshape their organizations.

Is There Such A Thing As A ‘Level 5’/Teal Organization?

In complex adaptive systems, those required to meet many of the challenges we currently face, leaders and organizations need to co-evolve to ensure their ability to respond to the opportunities and challenges. During this conversation, Terri and Maureen explore how individuals and organizations evolve. It starts with the question of how individuals “grow up” as leaders. They then map this same framework to exploring how organizations evolve. Terri presents a brief overview of the STAGES model, using it to frame to conversation about how a developmental model can be used to better understand the idea of organizational evolution. This is particularly useful when individuals use the developmental tools they employ for their own development to help the organization mature. While this sounds like even more work for busy leaders, this is the focus that enables them to create systems that are truly adaptive.

Growing Up is Like Blowing up a Balloon

balloon1Growing up through stages is often depicted in a stair step image. You begin at a baby stage, and then take a step up to a toddler stage, then to a preteen, an adolescent, an early adult, and finally as an elder you make it to the top of the stair case, or the mountain top, or whatever hierarchical image we might have for development.

With the STAGES model, we like to use a different metaphor—that of a balloon. A baby is a completely formed human in all ways…they see, hear, smell, touch, taste and learn just like everyone else does. All they need to do is to use their senses to begin to blow up their balloon in a balanced shape, and as they do, the balloon gets larger and larger and larger, kind of like the Universe did in the big bang.

The Long Skinny Horizontal Balloon

balloon2

We can continue to develop the robustness of the stage we are in and have a long skinny horizontal balloon. This is a lot of full-bodiedness, but all you might be able to engage with is a few inches from the ground. It would be nice to be able to engage from more height as well.

The Tall Skinny Vertical Balloon

balloon3

We can also see when our developmental balloon is a tall skinny vertical one. It easily topples over, just as we do if we skip from stage to stage without taking care of our shadows along the way or don’t develop with fullness and the robustness of the stage we are in. Thus, we may be able to see certain things that others don’t but living them into the full immanence of the person we could be, is missing.

Practices for a Robust Round Balloon

On the other hand if you want to blow up your balloon, develop both vertical practices and horizontal practices.

  1. See a shadow practitioner to help you confront the shadows that act as a ball and chain on your development and expression in the world.
  2. Knowing about development is “psychoactive,” according to Ken Wilber, so just knowing about the stages and studying their descriptions can help you develop.
  3. As well since everything comes in through your senses, make them as robust as possible. Seeing, hearing, touching; visualizing, listening, emotions; presencing, attunement, witnessing. Grow them up.
  4. And don’t forget the practices of zooming in (concentration, focus, paying attention) and zooming out (awareness, awareness-of-awareness, witnessing).

These practices will help you blow up your balloon in a healthy robust way.