Spiral Dynamics – do you want to go up the spiral?

The key thing in spiral dynamics is to discover the level of consciousness (v-meme) that you and your organisation are each most comfortable operating at. The idea is that effective change comes about if you operate from a level that is just half a v-meme ahead of the organisation. ‘I have become all things to all people that I  might win some’ comes to mind.

Crucial to Clare Graves model is that no v-meme has more intrinsic worth than another (especially previous) v-meme. The best v-meme is the one that makes best sense of your surroundings. Each person is able to operate on several levels, and the sportsfan director many move quickly from red (when cheering on his team) to green (when making hard nosed business decisions geared to generate profit) a few moments later. When faced with a sudden attack we all retreat to simple fight/flight (beige) survival mode – and this is the appropriate response to the circumstance.

Is there then an optimum v-meme for a christian leader?

Much of Anglican Theological Education seems to be geared to churning out Green v-meme leaders. A lot of money goes into getting future ministers university level degrees. The thrust of these liberal arts programmes is to teaching them to ask questions, to  theologically reflect, and to be comfortable weighing up and evaluating various points of view. An ordinand who emerges from theology cemetery too fired up, and too passionate for the gospel has probably not been listening. A well trained ordinand knows that there are lots of points of view out there  and the Anglican via media is just one among many. The Green mantra is: Let us go forth and listen to everyone else points of view before cautiously proclaiming that we are quite nice really and God, whoever s/he may be, is most likely quite nice really (dialogue).

Of course this can be quite a relief if you have come out of an Orange (high performance, results driven) church. These leaders measure spiritual fruit by the balance sheet and the attendance returns.

But it also raises some message questions about what we should aspire in leadership development. Is there really a higher integral tier of personal consciousness to aspire to? Or does that sound like yet another of re-hashing of a gnostic heresy?

It is not that long ago at a revival meeting in Azuza Street that proud, well-dressed preachers came to ‘investigate’. Reports state that, “Soon their high looks were replaced with wonder, then conviction comes, and very often you will find them in a short time wallowing on the dirty floor, asking God to forgive them and make them as little children.[9]

Which of the v-memes is closest to the ‘faith like a child’, that Jesus prized so highly?
I’ll be exploring all these questions and many more besides with a series of thoughts and reflections on this fascinating model. I would love to have your thoughts on the conversation – do be in touch!

spiral dynamics

spiral dynamics 2

Images from the excellent liturgist podcast

4 thoughts on “Spiral Dynamics – do you want to go up the spiral?

  1. Dear Richard

    Spiral dynamics has long interested me – thanking for linking it up with ++Justin and the present CofE leadership approach. Stimulating. Stuff I didn’t know. You can’t resist putting the boot into theological cemetries (I still hope this was predictive text). You yourself note that some academics are turquoise.

    This blog has just appeared on the Trinity site … and I find it very hard to think of Emma Ineson in charge of a graveyard.

    > http://www.trinitycollegebristol.ac.uk/blog/hear-from-our-students/3192/

    Stimulating thought …

    and greetings in this holy season


    David Runcorn http://www.davidruncorn.com 07870 331537



  2. To choose to progress is to choose to enter an irreversible process. Should one advance? It’s an interesting question, but perhaps one that can only be answered or even sensibly asked having already emerged on the other side of progression.

    To progress is a choice to leave certainty and embrace mystery. It is therefore an expression of faith. Is expressing faith always a good idea? Such a question is rationally unanswerable.

    There is a sense in which undergoing any irreversible process is a kind of death. Can life be found in any other way?

    Liked by 1 person

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