Saturday, May 31, 2008

Dr. Dan Benor's New E-zine

The June 2008 issue of The Sands of Time eZine is now on line, and can be viewed through this link:

This is an e-zine created by Dr. Dan Benor, MD for his site on Holistic Healing.

Pleneurethics students please note these articles could “minded” for possible papers for your Collier Scholarships.

Cheerfully Submitted by

Roger Kuhrt, PhD Pleneurethics Coordinator

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Integral Education

Kosmos Journal

The Integral Creative Cycle

A Participatory Model of Integral Education


A Participatory Model of Integral Education

Whether in nature or in human reality, a creative process usually unfolds through several general stages that correspond roughly with the seasonal cycle of nature: action (Autumn, preparing the terrain and planting the seeds; the body, studying what is already known about a subject matter, i.e., the body of literature); germination/gestation (Winter, rooting and nourishment of the seed inside the earth; the vital, conception of novel developments in contact with unconscious transpersonal and archetypal sources); blooming (Spring, emerging toward the light of buds, leaves, and flowers; the heart, first conscious feelings and rough ideas); and harvest (Summer, selection of mature fruits and shared celebration; the mind, intellectual selection, elaboration, and offering of the fruits of the creative process). Let us briefly look at each of these seasons and how they can be appropriately supported in the context of academic work

Autumn: The body, planting, action. In many lands across the globe, Autumn is the time to prepare the soil for the new harvesting cycle. The soil is scrabbled, cleansed of old roots and stones, and, if necessary, fertilized. Then the new seeds are planted in the soil.

In the human creative cycle, Autumn is the time for preparing the physical body to be a solid and porous receptacle for the germination of new vital seeds. It is important to release the body from accumulated tensions to make it more open and permeable. It is also essential to relate to the body as a living organic reality that holds meaningful contents that cannot be intentionally accessed through the mind or consciousness.

Academically, this is the time to take actions such as enrolling in stimulating courses, attending lectures, and reviewing the body of the literature—which can be approached as a set of potentially seminal works with the power to impregnate the vital seeds of many individuals. During lectures, dialogues, and readings, it is crucial to cultivate an attitude of receptivity, as if one were planting seeds in one’s inner soil. This is also the time to prepare the physical space in which the creative process will take place; for example, cleaning and organizing the office space and, as Deena Metzger beautifully puts it, preparing the desk as an altar—as the bride chamber for the beloved (i.e., the muse, the daimon, or the creative wellspring within).

The task of the mind at this stage is to support appropriate action by engaging behaviors such as those that create optimum conditions for listening to the body, actualize physical structures, and search out new resources. This is also a time for the mind to let go of old ways of thinking so that it can support and recognize the novel fruits of the new creative cycle. During Autumn, the mind can stagnate the creative process if it spends too much time wondering about the ultimate outcome of the inquiry, tries to predetermine its development, or arrive at its own answers before the stages of the creative process have had the chance to unfold. Autumn is the season to trust the body, to support the structural dimension of reality, and to rely on the power of action.

Winter: The vital, rooting, gestation. Once the seeds have been planted, there is not much else for a cultivator to do. Winter is essentially a time of waiting, of darkness, of silence, and, most important, of gestation. It is imperative to stop the activity of Autumn so that the planted seeds can do their own autonomous work: splitting open, rooting in the soil, and getting fed by earth’s essential nutrients.

In the same way that a germinated seed first grows toward the darkness of the soil to be nourished and to develop roots that are the necessary base for the upward growth of the plant toward the light, in the human being an activated vital seed first plunges into the depths of the personal and collective unconscious. Like the roots of the trees in a forest, human vital depths are interconnected in the unconscious, where they can be nurtured not only by the collective wisdom of human heritage but also by the generative, immanent dimension of the Mystery. This contact between the vital world and immanent Mystery makes Winter an especially sacred season that needs to be properly honored. As with the dormant appearance of nature in Winter, it may appear to the conscious mind that 'nothing is happening' at this juncture of the creative process, but it is important to remember that tremendously powerful and creative forces are actually at play in the darkness—forces that will eventually catalyze in Spring not only the regeneration and blooming of life in nature but also the emergence of the creative impulses in the human soil.

In academia, Winter is a time in which it may be important to stop reading or assimilating further information in any other way. The process of creative gestation requires its own inner space, which is facilitated by silence, interiorization, and stillness. Not knowing how to accompany appropriately this stage of gestation, too often students—especially at their dissertation stage—paralyze the creative process by their inability to stop reading. (This obviously has implications for the sequence of readings required in academic courses.) The conscious mind, not able to 'see' in the darkness of this stage, can easily believe that in order to move ahead it has to continue incorporating new theories and ideas. Obviously, there will always be important essays or books to be read, but in the same way that we need to stop eating to facilitate an effective and nourishing digestion, it is necessary to stop reading in Winter for an adequate gestation of the creative impulse. Appropriate activities during this season are not those seeking to find immediate answers but those that support the alignment of the mind/consciousness with the process of gestation. It is crucial to cultivate a sense of trust in the natural processes that are taking place within our creative matrix during this season, much as a pregnant woman must trust the gestation of a fetus. Some examples of supporting activities include keeping a dream journal; taking nature walks; working with special states of consciousness; practicing receptive forms of meditation such as vipassana, wu-wei ('without doing'), or shinkan taza ('sitting only'); cultivating visionary imagination; doing symbolic work; paying attention to synchronicities in everyday life (including 'that book that fell from the shelf '!); and engaging practices that facilitate an embodied contact with the vital center or hara as the physical/energetic container of the creative pregnancy.

In Winter the mind needs to cultivate an attitude of patient receptivity, not-knowing, and humble respect. It is important to develop patience and receptivity toward stages of the creative process whose rhythm and unfolding elude the mind’s intentional control. Respect and not-knowing naturally emerge from the mind’s recognition that 'something' is happening beyond what it can see directly. And humility is borne out of the awareness that, although the mind can be present to the process, the creative dynamism has no need of its powers at this stage. During Winter, the mind can abort the creative cycle if—out of ignorance, impatience, or mistrust—it attempts to take control of the process and/or get to know prematurely the nature of the still embryonic creative drive. It is as if a farmer, not trusting the chthonic process of the seed, anxiously digs the soil to 'see' what is happening or to actively help the seed to grow. Winter is the season to cultivate a patient receptivity toward the unknown and to trust in those aspects and stages of life that transcend the intentionality of the human mind and consciousness.

Spring: The heart, blooming, diversity. Spring is the season for the shameless blossoming of newly regenerated life. It is a time of spontaneity, contrasts, and celebration of diversity; a time for the sprouting of buds and the blooming of flowers; a time of tremendous fragility and intensity and, if the conditions are appropriate, of countless surprises.

In the creative process, Spring is the season to open the heart, breathe deeply and widely, listen to one’s affective world, and make room within so that the raw sensations associated with the upwelling creative energy emerging out of the gestation process can be organically incorporated as emotions and feelings. This is the stage of first contact with and embodiment of those creative impulses gestated in Winter. This can be a time of joyful exhilaration in the wake of the fresh contents emerging from within—a time in which it is crucial to avoid the mental temptation to prematurely assess what is emerging. At the end of the season, it is important to let go of those developments which, like Spring flowers, were temporary manifestations of the creative process and start contemplating those that remain and may become fruits in the Summer.

In academic work, the first part of Spring calls for activities that support the embodied magnification of those first creative energetic blossoms, including physical games that involve movement and dance (like 'dancing one’s research question') and sensual/sexual explorations to awaken and integrate the erotic power of life into the inquiry process. The importance of Eros and sexuality in a genuinely creative process cannot be overstated. Eros is the creative power of Life in its primordial, undifferentiated state, and sexuality is one of the first soils for the organization and creative development of such primary energy in human reality. That is why it is so important that sexuality is an “open” soil based on natural evolutionary principles and not on fears, conflicts, or artificial impositions dictated by the mind, culture, or spiritual ideologies. The second part of Spring calls for activities such as somatic expression, verbalization of feelings, embodied practices that facilitate listening to emotions and feelings and artistic expression (music, painting, sculpture, plastic arts, poetry, singing, etc.) Peer-group work becomes central at this stage, because it provides a social context for nonjudgmental contrasts and cross-fertilization among incipient creative expressions.

Two qualities are essential for the mind to cultivate in Spring. The first is an attitude of genuine curiosity by which the mind looks at the emerging contents as if it were the first time that it sees them, avoiding their codification through previously learned conceptual schemes or theories. The second is an attitude of unconditional acceptance and support of all the budding contents. At this stage, the creative process can be aborted if the mind projects its previously learned schemes or theories onto what is emerging or if it prematurely judges their value. Spring is not the season of the mind but a time to trust the heart and unconditionally support its processes.

Summer: The mind, harvest, celebration. In Summer, some flowers have matured into fruits and some of those fruits become ripe. It is the season of harvest, celebration, sharing, and gratitude. It is also a time to rest, to peacefully contemplate the new seeds contained in the fruits, and to plan another cycle for the following Autumn.

In the creative process, the “fruits” represent the ideas or expressions selected for further elaboration and refinement. If the mind has accompanied the entire process with the appropriate stage-specific attitudes of a sensitive farmer, it will easily discern at this stage those fruits that are mature and deserve further consideration. Summer is the season of the mind—a time for the intellectual/aesthetic elaboration of ideas. It is also an auspicious time to open oneself to the transcendent dimension of the Mystery, which can now illuminate the mind with insights that may enrich the refinement of the creative fruits.

In the academic system, Summer is the season to focus on the articulation of ideas with clarity, beauty, elegance, precision, and sophistication. It is also the time to dialog with others about one’s ideas in order to polish them in both substance and verbal/nonverbal expression. Putting those ideas into writing or other expressive means is a further step in the materialization of the creative process. Ideally, the writing style should be coherent with the original creative impulse so that the words embody the message without distortions. This is the season to contrast one’s fruits with already existing developments and ideas: that is, with the fruits of the creative process of others. (In mainstream education, those contrasts occur long before the creative process has delivered mature fruits, and although this may be helpful at times, it may also endanger the process, leaving students feeling a lack of confidence that can lead to a compensatory mental reformulation of already existent ideas). It is also the time for the sharing of refined ideas through class presentations, written papers, or other creative projects—and it may be important to explore different modalities to convey those ideas (visual, aesthetic, dramatic, etc.) A further stage in this process could be the publication of the fruits of the season in magazines or journals and/or their presentation at professional conferences or public events. Finally, this is the time to raise new questions, plan a new research cycle, and explore avenues for further inquiry that may awaken new vital seeds within ourselves and others.

In Summer we reach at last the season of the mind. If the mind has been in contact with the multidimensional nature of the creative process, the attitude that it will naturally display in the presentations of the fruits will be one of passionate humbleness. It will be passionate because the ideas will be grounded in somatic, vital, and emotional experience. And it will be humble out of the recognition that the ultimate sources of the creative process transcend both mental structures and personal individuality; in other words, they are both transcendent and transpersonal. Learners can then feel that they have been both the gardener and the soil of the creative process while simultaneously being aware of the many participating elements that have collaborated in the unfolding of that process (body, vital, heart, mind, and consciousness; the personal and the collective unconscious; the immanent and transcendent Mystery). Passion without humbleness can become arrogance, and arrogance may be a sign that the person is only aware of the personal dimension of the process. Humbleness without passion can become weak and even boring and may be a sign that the person is overlooking the personal grounding of the process. An attitude of passionate humbleness honors both the personal and transpersonal dimensions of the creative process.

Before closing this section, we should stress the very general nature of the integral creative cycle outlined here. Although we believe that it can serve as an orientation for integral pedagogical practice, it should not be made paradigmatic in any strict sense for all individuals. There are many dispositions and associated dynamics in the unfolding of the creative process. (Incidentally, a serious consideration of the diverse individual rhythms in the gestation and maturation of creative fruits may lead to the revision of standard academic practices such as predetermined timeframes for academic accomplishment or collective deadlines for the delivery of inquiry outcomes.) Furthermore, there can be an indefinite number of seasonal subcycles (Autumn–Winter–Spring–Summer) in the context of a larger creative project. Finally, and perhaps most important, our suggestion of a rough correspondence between creative stages and specific human attributes should be taken as a didactic orientation and not in rigid fashion. A human being is a multidimensional unity: body, vital, heart, mind, and consciousness are petals of the human flower. All human attributes are present and operative to some extent at all stages of the creative cycle. This fact does not preclude, however, that as in the early stages of human development—from organic matter and vital impulse to proto-emotions and differentiated feelings to thoughts and formal cognition—certain attributes may have greater preeminence than others at certain stages. For these and other reasons, the sequence sketched here, although we believe it accurately reflects deep dynamics of the creative cycle, admits an indefinite number of possible variations and should not be viewed in a strictly linear fashion.

Integration Of Feminine And Masculine Principles

In this expanded educational context, we can easily recognize that modern academia, both mainstream and alternative, focuses on the Autumn and the Summer phases—action and harvest, the more 'masculine' aspects of the process— and tends to overlook the facilitation of spaces for the Winter and the Spring: germination, gestation, and giving birth--the more 'feminine' aspects of the process. Students spend most of their time both inside and outside the classroom reading, studying, and discussing knowledge already elaborated by others (Autumn), after which they are usually expected to 'produce' new and original contributions in their final presentations and papers (Summer). In other words, the deep structure of modern education tends to skip the more feminine, and more deeply generative, stages of the creative process (Winter and Spring). Seen in this context, the scarcity of genuinely creative developments in academia should not be surprising. There is much 'second-order' creativity or smart mental permutation of already known ideas but very little 'first-order' creativity or organic, multidimensional emergence of truly innovative developments. Given the innumerable 'abortions' of the creative process that these dynamics cause in the Western educational process almost from day one, it is understandable (perhaps inevitable) that so many students develop a lack of confidence in their own creative potential.

We strongly suspect that this deeply masculinized pedagogical container may also be behind the intense (and also masculinized) reactivity of the feminine sensibility (of both men and women) that faculty and students often witness in the classroom, even in those courses where the 'feminine' is honored and included in content and/or more superficial process (e.g., inclusion of a feminine ritual in a masculinized pedagogical process). The true feminine is understandably in a state of paralyzing despair that can easily burst into anger because it cannot understand why it still feels profoundly dishonored when it is apparently attended to and even explicitly championed.

In future years, it is likely that integral education will gradually restructure the pedagogical process in ways that truly and deeply integrate the 'masculine' and 'feminine' dimensions of the inquiry process. This may involve the facilitation of spaces not only for the intellectual discussion and production of knowledge but for the vital germination and gestation of the creative seeds of the individual.

Note: This article is a shorter version of an article originally published in The Journal of Transformative Education 3(4), 306-330, 2005.

Jorge N. Ferrer, Ph.D. is associate professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies. He is the author of Revisioning Transpersonal Theory: A Participatory Vision of Human Spirituality (SUNY Press, 2002) and co-editor of The Participatory Turn: Spirituality, Mysticism, Religious Studies (SUNY Press, forthcoming). Born in Barcelona, Spain, he received the Fetzer Institute’s Presidential Award in 2000 for his seminal work on consciousness studies. A leading scholar at the Esalen Center for Theory and Research, he currently serves on the editorial board of The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology and ReVision: A Journal of Consciousness and Transformation. Marina T. Romero and Ramon V. Albareda, Directors of ESTEL School of Integral Studies in Barcelona, Spain, founded Integral Holism, a new approach to human growth and healing characterized by a vision that is both holistic (global) and ecological (of interactive system).

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Don Beck & Ken Wilbur

This essay is included because it may promote even more integral ways of looking at Richard Bangs Collier's research. Scholars are encouraged to explore the work of both Don Beck and Ken Wilbur.

Human Capacities in the Integral Age

How Value Systems Shape Organizational Productivity,
National Prosperity and Global Transformation

Don Edward Beck, Ph. D.

The focus on the role of productivity in enhancing competitiveness, while generating wealth and cultural well-being, has shifted over time from the micro (personal, team and "circles") to the meso (organizational design and performance) and now the macro (large scale and complex systems). Likewise, the essential thinking around productivity matters has emerged through systemic, strategic, humanistic and now integral patterns and organizing paradigms. The "profound knowledge" as described by Dr. Edward Deming is just now becoming clear to many who applied only surface-level and tentative versions of his massive work. We now recognize that micro-scale solutions depend heavily on both meso-scale and macro-scale insights and that all three must be meshed in the whole-scale application.

This presentation will introduce the concept of Spiral Dynamics, a new, evolutionary framework that describes whole-systems thinking, details how value systems emerge in societies, and maps out a program for raising human capacities to deal with 21st Century complexities. The session will introduce the notion of Memetics, the scientific study of "DNA-like" codes and patterns that lie at the core of companies, cultures and countries. It will describe the role of Vital Signs Monitors in profiling human groupings, and a series of design formulas in crafting natural systems that align focus, function, form, fit, flow and future. Finally, it will demonstrate how to synchronize the spiral of technological complexity, business systems sophistication, and levels of human development.


Never before has the planet earth carried such a rich tapestry of human differences in the form of individuals and groups. The end of the Cold War brought the thawing of the bi-polar ice sheet that covered the entire planet as the deep ethnic cores began to bubble and boil once again. Decades of deconstructionism and egalitarianism in academic and popular cultural circles released the bent-up entities and interests that had been subdued by European-Western hierarchies of power and control. The microchip places an immense amount of influence in the choice making of single individuals. DNA analyses now make possible the specific identity of every person on the planet. Mass customization efforts are able to target each person, and even specify names on the inside of weekly magazines. It is as if the entire psychological history of our species from Day One is being replayed in real time and carried live on CNN. What an amazing time!

Likewise, we have been witnessing a significant amount of fragmentation in the work place and around issues germane to productivity. Our work force, in most environments, is much more diverse than before. The shift toward a global view has, likewise, introduced more complexity, not just in terms of different cultures, but also in the form of a myriad of value systems that work side-by-side or, within a whole constellation of teams and alliances. Yet, many of our approaches to productivity still tend to be monolithic in design and applied like a generic "cash wash" over people and work units that are spreading apart as if they had been purloined into space a Big Bang


Most people know the story of the "Six Blind Men and the Elephant." One discovered the tail, another the trunk, while the others felt the leg, side, tusk, and ear. Each was totally convinced he had discovered the "truth" based on the direct experience. Of course, each observer was "right" about the elephant, but only about a part; none was able to sense the whole. This can also be said about the various political, economic, religious, educational, child-rearing, and technological theories of our own day. This also includes the various listings of worldviews or Weltanschauungen, or the numerous psychological packages, leadership initiatives, or managerial mandates that continue to be popular, or have been discarded in societal dust bins. The various and often heated debates heard at the United Nations, or in national assembles, senates, and parliaments, will, likewise, reflect these different views of "the elephant." Rather than continue to pit the vast array of differences against one another in an adversarial manner, or suffer the consequences when the conflicts surface in the form of belligerence or warfare, might it not be useful to find a way to construct a synthesis that can explain why each emerged, where it is useful, and how it can contribute to the total Global Mesh?

Which of these views of the elephant-world best describe you?

The World is. . .*


a natural milieu where humans rely on instincts to stay alive


a magical place alive with spirit beings and mystical signs


a jungle where the strongest and most cunning survive


an ordered existence under the control of the ultimate truth


a market place full of possibilities and opportunities


a human habitat in which we share life's experiences


a chaotic organism forged by differences and change


an elegantly balanced system of interlocking-forces

*Question from The Values Test, NVC

This search for the cohesive elements that can hold so many fragmented parts together in a new, 21st Century alignment, and create the methodology and mechanisms for the continuation and enhancement of all human life on the planet as well as in corporate and work environments, will require an understanding of three essential components:

The Evolution of Value Systems. We will introduce here a new framework called Spiral Dynamics, a bio-psycho- social-spiritual conceptual system that describes how and when worldviews emerge, and how they form themselves into spirals of complexity. Each newly awakened Value System crafts its own unique work attitudes, organizational designs and specific perspectives on issues around productivity improvement

Historical Approaches to Productivity. Because Life Conditions change, new innovations are introduced into the workplace, and people themselves emerge into different priority "bottom-lines," we must rethink the whole matter of productivity itself, and what it will take to generate the high levels of behavior necessary to maintain the quality of our lives. We will track the shifts in thinking about productivity through a series of Value Systems, with an additional recognition that our own efforts have emerged through micro, meso, and now macro applications.

Productivity in the Integral Age. If, indeed, we are dealing with new levels of complexity and fragmentation, how should we conceptualize the role of productivity in enriching and enhancing the work place, or in educational systems, or in cultural and social domains, so that we meet the challenges that confront us in this newly emerging Integral Age?


Spiral Dynamics is based on the seminal work of the late Professor Clare W. Graves, Union College, New York. He described what he called "Levels of Psychological Existence" as an emerging pattern and priority of worldviews, value systems, and complex adaptive intelligences that arise in response to Life Conditions. Thus, human nature is not finite. We are not frozen into types or traits. Cultures are not static entities, forever trapped in Flatland. As Graves explained it:

Briefly, what I am proposing is that the psychology of the mature human being is an unfolding, emergent, oscillating, spiraling process marked by progressive subordination of older, lower- order behavior systems to newer, higher-order systems as man's existential problems change.

The human Spiral, then, consists of a coiled string of worldviews, each the product of its times and conditions. Yet, when a new worldview emerges, the older systems do not disappear. Rather, they remain subsumed in the total flow and not only add texture to the more complex ways of living, but remain "on call" in case the problems that awakened them to service reappear. So, there are systems within us, miniature worldviews each of which is calibrated for different problems of existence. Each new worldview is born out of chaos, in a nonlinear fashion, so there is no straight arrow of time back into history. Each worldview is a platform with its own unique paradigm and instructional codes for organizing society. Like a DNA script, the unique adaptive themes at each level will express themselves in terms of life-styles, economic, political, religious, and educational systems, and views of sex, marriage, working, the environment, and sports.

In our recent work we have fused the Graves Technology with the fledging science of memetics, noting that each of the worldviews is in fact a "valuesMEME", a coding mechanism that inculcates every aspect of society. Graves work identified eight distinct worldviews or vMEMES, with the ninth on the horizon. Yet, all of the previously awakened systems still exist. These deep level tectonic-like psychological plates create surface level tensions as we ratchet through time.




Color Code

Popular Name


Cultural manifestations and personal displays

Level 8




collective individualism; cosmic spirituality; earth changes

Level 7




natural systems; self-principle; multiple realities; knowledge

Level 6




egalitarian; feelings; authentic; sharing; caring; community

Level 5




materialistic; consumerism; success; image; status; growth

Level 4




meaning; discipline; traditions; morality; rules; lives for later

Level 3




gratification; glitz; conquest; action; impulsive; lives for now

Level 2




rites; rituals; taboos; super- stitions; tribes; folk ways & lore

Level 1




food; water; procreation; warmth; protection; stays alive

Here's the key idea. Different societies, cultures and subcultures, as well as entire nations are at different levels of psycho-cultural emergence, as displayed within these evolutionary levels of complexity. They have different centers of gravity. The previously awakened levels do not disappear. Rather, they stay active within the worldview stacks, thus impacting the nature and form of the more complex systems. Like the Russian dolls, there are systems within systems within systems. So, many of the same issues we confront on the West Bank (Red to Blue) can be found in South Central Los Angeles. One can experience the animistic (Purple) worldview on Bourbon Street as well as in Zaire. Matters brought before city council in Minneapolis (Orange to Green to Yellow) are not unlike the debates in front of governing bodies in the Netherlands. Countries and cultures are mosaics of multiple vMEME codes.

Third World societies are dealing, for the most part, with issues within the Level 1 through Level 3 zone, thus higher rates of violence and poverty. Staying alive, finding safety, and dealing with feudal age conditions matter most. Second World societies are characterized by authoritarian (Blue) one-party states, whether from the right or the left. Makes no difference. So called First World nations and groupings have achieved high levels of affluence, with lower birth rates, and more expansive use of technology. While centered in the strategic, free-market driven, and individual liberty focused perspective -- all traits of the Level 5 (Orange) worldview -- new vMEMETICS (Green, Yellow, and Turquoise) are emerging in the "post-modern" age. Yet, we have no language for anything beyond First World, believing that is the final state, the "end of history." Further, there is a serious question as to whether the billions of people who are now exiting Second and Third World life styles can anticipate the same level of affluence as they see on First World (Orange) television screens. Now that expectations have been raised by visiting "Paree," how do we expect to "keep them down on the farm?"

Different worldviews or vMEMES fight wars
or engage in conflict but for different reasons.


Political Form

Deepest motivation and "bottom line" justification for aggressive behavior


Survival Clans

to keep a place in the survival niche, as in the movie The Quest for Fire


Ethnic Tribes

to protect the myths, ancestral traditions, rights of kinship, and sacred places.


Feudal Empires

to dominate, gain the spoils, and earn the right to rape, pillage, and plunder.


Ancient Nations

to protect borders, homelands, hearth, preserve way of life, defend "holy" cause.


Corporate States

to advance economic spheres of influence, or access to raw materials and markets.


Value Communities

to punish those who commit "crimes against humanity" and protect the victims.

Many people who knew both Edward Deming and Clare W. Graves have remarked that the two men had a great deal in common, both in terms of their respective worldviews and their approaches to social change and transformation. Deming spoke of "Profound Knowledge" while Graves' described what he called "The emergent, cyclical, double helix model of adult bio-psycho-social development." The two men were of similar age, stature, temperament, and style. Graves had the greatest respect for Deming's work and it is unfortunate that they never met. They were both "giants" in their own respective domains.


If one were to engage some of the sophisticated data-mining technology with a colony of Web Crawlers to detect every use of the term "productivity" over the last fifty years, there would be a clear pattern to the clusters they would reveal. Productivity itself has gone through its very own evolutionary process as it passes through the micro, meso, and macro stages. One can also see how the various initiatives have moved along the vMemetic trajectory as we have sought, in each of the Value Systems, to construct what we thought at the time would be the major advance in job performance, efficiency and effectiveness, and the overall quality of our respective work styles.


Some of the initial attempts at productivity improvement focused specifically on logical thinking, statistical measurement, connecting-the-dots, and enhancing systems as they existed at the time. These efforts stayed within job functions, organizational groupings, and served to plan the work and work the plans within the established set of givens, authority, and responsibility. BLUE ZONE PRODUCTIVITY initiatives spawned such innovations as the early version of Quality Circles, Total Product Quality (TPG) projects, and other efforts. This emphasis also resulted in the creative contributions of Larry Miles at General Electric and what became known as Value Engineering. VE practitioners were asked to scan and monitor large capital contracts that had already been finalized to search for ways to cut costs, avoid duplication, and elaborate on designs which had already been set in concrete. It is ironic that the very first psychologist who Larry Miles sought out for advice was Professor Clare W. Graves, who was on the Union College faculty just a few miles from GE's headquarters


As BLUE ZONE PRODUCTIVITY efforts matured, it occurred to many in the field that something was indeed missing. All of the intelligent and highly motivated efforts to make substantial improvements in the quality and flow of work were blocked by the nature of the organization itself. The Quality Circles groups lacked the mandate to cross over functional, departmental, and even geographic lines. Those people who participated were often rewarded by a pat on the back but little more. The improvements they designed and implemented benefited the pay-checks of top level executives but not their own. They were asked, even commanded, to "work harder and smarter," but soon discovered they would not benefit from the fruits of their labors.

ORANGE ZONE PRODUCTIVITY shifted in the direction of strategy with the massive re-engineering exercises, the entry of microchip technology that made possible instant communication across all of the barriers, and the onset of interest in aligning the entire enterprise to the "bottom-lines." Governmental entities shifted from seniority-based compensation to a preoccupation with merit awards and putting professions into competitive postures. The idea, of course, was that these innovations would enhance the capacity to squeeze costs, fine-tune efforts, and see to it that every expenditure of funds, every effort on the part of everybody, would all translated in one way or another to "the bottom-line." VE moved to what was called Value Management as scapulae were put to costs at the front end of contracts rather than be locked into the big decisions that impacted, often in a negative way, the little decisions. Unless the large flywheels were aligned to "strategy," the smaller flywheels would continue to spin whether they produced positive results or not.


Michael Hammer and his colleagues who were well known for the entire re-engineering movement, had to make the major confession after "down-sizing," brutalizing, and ripping apart many traditional systems, that they had totally ignored the importance of people in their activities. Big surprise. Those with the Orange vMeme virus in their minds see nothing beyond profit, perks, and privilege. It became apparent to many that people, indeed, were critical to any long-term and effective effort that could sustain itself over time. A great amount of historical knowledge was lost in companies because of both the imposition of meritocracies and the assumption that systems – business, technological, and strategic – would, by themselves, produce the results that everybody designed. They did not. They could not.

At this stage a large segment of productivity thinking became focused on people – their competencies, feelings, experiences, Humanistic work site needs, and even personal preferences with regard to such "fringe benefits" as athletic facilities, nurseries for children, partner privileges, and similar sensitivities. Without question the enterprise became a happier and healthier place as diversity programs stressed the value in human differences, and community-based projects afforded an opportunity for everybody to participate in social responsibility schemes.

We also witnessed, in the GREEN ZONE, the emergence of self-managed work teams, fully capable of functioning virtually on their own. Trust-building exercises were introduced. Off-site meetings by the groups were encouraged. Expansive career development tracks were funded. Barriers in the organizational structure were lowered as rank system were discouraged, both in external displays and in personal relationships. Everybody was on a first name basis.


The celebrated and romantic Age of Aquarius ended forever with the crash of the World Trade Center towers in New York City on September 11, 2001. The Age of Fragmentation was at its high water mark, its zenith following the end of the Cold War. Many of these identical issues are, likewise, appearing in corporate suites, on shop floors, in trading centers, and in business schools – from Harvard, Stanford, and the London Business School to smaller educational/training programs literally around the world. Witness, now, the rise of The Integral Age. The intent here will be to discuss the ramifications of this new epoch to the general area of productivity, with a focus on redesign rather than fine-tuning, on transformation rather than reformation or renewal, and on open, flow-state dynamical systems rather than closed-in, boxed-in, and rigid, final-state models and methodologies. Here are several of the basic assumptions and processes that implement the Integral perspective.


Actually, the Integral Age is based on the 7th and 8th Level Value Systems, the YELLOW and TURQUOISE ZONES in terms of the Spiral Dynamics' conceptual system. The approaches to productivity in these zones tend to favor the macro or whole-systems scale perspectives. If these are "set right" at the very beginning, many of the micro and meso issues and concerns will naturally follow suit. This will of necessity unblock the constraints that have prevented the productivity measures in the BLUE, ORANGE, and GREEN domains from actually producing the results they desired. I worked for a number of years with Middelburg Steel & Alloys company in the Eastern Transvaal in South Africa. This heavy-industry organization was light years ahead of others in that productivity efforts, and even safety-measures, were built into the design of the total system rather than imposed as separate items over the entire structure, operating codes, and output requirements. Everything connected to everything else. All the decision-makers were involved in all of the developmental programs. The requirements for productivity improvement, safety regulation, and even diversity development were featured on the evaluation forms for everybody. The company was saturated with innovative versions of Value Engineering/Value Management, and it extended from the executive suite to the shop floor, and across all functions. This company and its executives and staff played a major and defining role in the entire South African transformation out of apartheid, as these principles were applied in the Middelburg community and even into the National Peace Accord.

Natural Systems Designs have a number of distinguishing characteristics:

They identify the underlying vMEME codes operating in the overall culture, the critical priority sets in key decision-structures and which are essential in different work flows, as well as the overarching set-points, flywheels, or deep cultural assumptions that macromanage the whole. This is all mapped out as underground currents on which the enterprise must be constructed.

They skillfully align the core elements – focus, function, form, fit, flow, fulfillment and future – in the design of the features that, when properly set in motion, generate high levels of productivity while, in addition, meeting the four essential "bottom-lines" that every enterprise should now pursue – purpose, profit, people and planet.

They design the appropriate levels in, as reflected in the three Spirals: Degrees of Complexity in the Technology Spiral; Levels of Sophistication in the Business/Systems Spiral; and Levels of Emergence in the Individual and Cultural Spiral. Unless there is synchronization in the three Spirals, tension and stress will result. If the technology is too complicated for the business systems to handle, or the business (motivation, communication, compensation, information, etc) is either too complex or too simplistic for the work force, there is serious trouble ahead. There must be balance across all three Spirals, so that the "well-oiled machine" or the "finely-tuned" Flow-State can function with minimal energy lost and maximum productivity.

They focus more on the codes, maps, equations, and scenarios than on prescriptions, patterns, and policies. For example, the following equation is repeated over and over again:

How should WHO lead/manage/motivate/inspire WHOM to do WHAT, with WHICH people living WHERE?


Ken Wilber has created a powerful, imaginative, and practical template to overlay on any situation to identify the specific needs and capacities of individuals and groups, and

calibrate the precise developmental or growth-related packages that fit each unique situation.

The "All Levels" piece of his framework can be explained in terms of the eight vMEME or worldview layers and levels of complexity. The "All Quadrants" component consists of:

IT - Individual Brain & Organism.

I - Individual Self & Consciousness

ITS - Collective Social System and Environment

WE - Collective Culture and WorldView.

Efforts which select a single Q, or operate on a mismatched L, could make things worse. Large scale efforts, such as cultural upliftment, must be All Q and All L. The same holds for developmental schemes in organizations. Too often we rely on a single Quadrant, such as the Upper Left, in enhancing people's personal insights, skills and states of mind – but then send them back to their same former Lower Left webs of culture that are hostile to these new perspectives and behaviors. Or, we place people in jobs and functions but fail to align the compensation or management systems (Lower Right) that support the behaviors we expect. No doubt you can offer many examples of this problem.

The design and implementation of successful All Quadrants/All Levels initiatives requires a new generation of decision-making formulas and processes. While each of the vMEMES has evolved its own form of problem resolution, the Yellow-Integral and Turquoise-Holistic worldviews contain the intelligences to macromanage the whole human Spiral.


Ichak Adizes, in his corporate lifecycle framework, has devised what he calls CAPI – the Coalescing of Authority, Power, and Influence – so that all sit at the same table in sorting out complex issues. (See After studying thousands of companies from all over the world over decades, he has been able to identify the different managerial codes that are operative at different life-cycle stages as the entity deals with its problems of existence. The codes – P-production, A-administration, E-entrepreneurial and expansionist thinking, and I-integrative – vary at the different stages. The organization will always have problems; the only question is what kinds of problems will it have, what are their dimensions, and what will be required to handle those specific circumstances.

Huge gaps in productivity occur whenever the entity is out-of-phase with its specific location on the corporate life cycle. Short-term, quick-fix, or cosmetic "solutions" only make things worse. The entire entity must be involved in creating trust, designing the appropriate structure, finding the right people, and implementing the congruent systems. The Adizes Methodology is, without question, the most powerful framework that I have come across for managing complex business and cultural streams.


As humans, we exist in a wash of bacteria, viruses, genes, and memes. All four appear to be impacted by nonlinear events, and possess the capacity to literally re-engineer their respective codes in order to adapt to changing conditions in the milieu. The Vital Signs Monitor is designed to track the life forces that influence our human experiences. Consider an operations-type room, with floor to ceiling video screens, where the critical indicators are displayed and overlaid on top of each other. Such a Monitor could register the pulse of aggregates of people, both at macro and micro levels, to search for the deepest trends, major vMEME conflicts in the making, serious sink-holes in development projects, and the general health and well-being of global people. This technology could provide globally focused decision-makers with the necessary information to translate into knowledge, then formulate actions.

Such a technology is being developed by John Petersen and his Arlington Institute, located in Arlington, Virginia. The intent of the Vital Signs Monitor, displayed within the Institute's Fusion Center, is to track vMEMETIC flows and Stages of Change within the American society. (See Likewise, a number of innovative companies are seeing the wisdom of creating their own internal VSM to collect all of the critical indicators, and display them at a single place and time so that everyone can see everything. Conoco, for example, a global energy company, has created what is called Dashboard, a company-wide project and initiative designed to craft such a data clearinghouse that takes and monitors the "pulse" of the company and its external world(s). They may well be writing the textbook for this technology.

Finally, we are now constructing a method for assessing the core Value Systems in entire cultures and societies so that we can detect major tension zones, stress points, and early evidence of major changes on the horizon.

Cometh the Time; Cometh the Thinking.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Scholar's Paper Example: Frank Morris


Frank Morris

Humor is a very vital characteristic of the human psyche. I was curious as to how humor plays a part in the field of Pleneurethics. I chose to compare and contrast two research articles whose topics delve into the subject of what humor is and how it effects human interaction.

I found two articles. The first article is A Temperamental Understanding of Humor Communication and Exhilaratability by author Jason S. Wrench and James C. McCroskey. The second article is titled, Getting a Laugh: Gender, Status, and Humor in Task Discussions by authors, Dawn T. Robinson and Lynn Smith-Lovin.

The main points of Temperamental Understanding of Humor Communication and Exhilaratability deal with the positive benefits of humor, the way humor is communicated, how humor “strikes” us, and the excitability of humor. The definition of humor is also attempted.

Getting a Laugh: Gender, Status, and Humor in Task Discussions tries to define humor. It tries to show how humor is a status builder, how humor can bring people together, and how humor can relieve tension and stress. Getting a Laugh: Gender, Status, and Humor in Task Discussions ask the questions, who uses humor, who laughs at humor, what gender is most likely to use humor, when where, how and why. In addition, does humor beget humor? How does gender grouping affect humor? Who participates in humor? How does the interruption factor affect the use of humor? How does time effect the use of humor – when does it happen in a group? What is the success rate of humor, does humor feed on itself, and who is the target of said humor. How does humor bond people within a group.

In Temperamental Understanding of Humor Communication and Exhilaratability, the positive benefits of humor are multi fold. Humor can and does relieve stress. It not only dissipates stressful situations but also helps us to cope with our own stress. Humor can be utilized in dealing with family problems. Humor can help us see or set a positive spin on matters. It helps us not to take ourselves too seriously. Humorous people are generally found more popular than people who are not humorous are. People like people who can make them laugh. Being liked by fellow humans usually relates into higher self-esteem and thus a better mental attitude towards life. Hopefully this will equate into better mental health and in how people treat other people.

Humor is in our genetics; you’re born with a funny bone. Humor can be learned somewhat but to be truly humorous it has to be an inborn trait. Communication (which humor is a subdivision of) is neurobiologically driven. “…genetic codes have been linked to the traits of impulsiveness, openness, conservatism, hostility and intelligence.” (Temperamental Understanding of Humor Communication and Exhilaratability) All these traits are found in humor and / or drive humor to be utilized.

How humor plays out to us when we hear it is predicted in a large part to our DNA. Humor is a commonality that binds most of mankind together. “Humor and laughter are both a psychological and physiological response pattern that activates the entire cortex, sending waves of positive and negative polarization through both hemispheres.” (Temperamental Understanding of Humor Communication and Exhilaratability) So humor and laughter exercises both sides of the brain. It is probably one of the few incidents that allow the left and right sides of the brain to function together at the same time experiencing the same thing all at once.

Definition of humor in article Temperamental Understanding of Humor Communication and Exhilaratability is “…humor is like obscenity, you know it when you see it.” This seems to me to be the best definition I have come across. Humor is just too broad of a subject to be pinned down with a narrow explanation. Even though it is hard to define humor it is not hard to “see” what bad humor is. Most people have distinct lines drawn in their minds on what kind of humor they are willing to accept. In this day and age the erosion of what society will accept as humor has changed. What once use to be reserved for the locker room or the pool hall is now flaunted on prime time television. Humor and obscenity seem to have merged into one.

Getting a Laugh: Gender, Status, and Humor in Task Discussions agrees with Temperamental Understanding of Humor Communication and Exhilaratability. Getting a Laugh: Gender, Status, and Humor in Task Discussions conclusion on a definition is, “Like beauty, most people believe that they know it (humor) when they see (hear) it.” Humor is a perception, you can’t pin it down with a thumbtack definition. One man’s humor is another man’s misery depending on their perception of the humor at hand.

How and why do people use humor as a status builder within a group? According to Getting a Laugh: Gender, Status, and Humor in Task Discussions when in a group of strangers, humor is more likely to build a hierarchy within the group than to build group cohesion. This agrees with one of the positive aspect that Temperamental Understanding of Humor Communication and Exhilaratability points out. People who can use humor successfully and use it more often usually find themselves at the upper end of the status chain within the group where they employ said humor. Is it the humor that promotes their self-confidence or is it their self-confidence that propels them to employ humor in their communication? This is a question neither article asks nor answers.

Getting a Laugh: Gender, Status, and Humor in Task Discussions talks about how humor helps to define reality and helps to define one’s self. Humor helps us to “see” reality from a less serious side. A reflection of silliness helps our perspective of the issue come into a focus we might not of considered. Humor helps to define one’s self – if you can’t laugh at yourself, how can you freely laugh at something else. Humor can be used as a control by its power to connect people to other people. It can also be used to exclude people from a group. Humor is neither good nor evil, but it is a tool. The intent or motive of the one welding the tool of humor depicts its moral outcome.

Who uses humor and when do they use it? Men use humor more frequently than women do in mixed gender groups. Women, in a group of their own, will use humor more freely and it is noted that when they do so the subject of choice is men in general. One area where humor has taken a somewhat negative approach is in all of the “stupid guy” commercials now on TV. Are these just funny or are they an attempt to degrade men in general. Women’s humor is mainly used to build a bonding between them. Men’s humor is mainly used to build hierarchy and status within the group. Men use humor more often than women do. Men also have a higher degree of success (getting a laugh) than women do.

Humor (successful humor) does beget more humor. The more successful a person is at using humor the more likely they will continue using it.

People who are of higher status within a group also tend to disagree with other people more often and use humor so as not to offend others or to damage their status within the group.

Humor is more frequent but not quite as successful in the beginning of a group discussion. In the middle of the time frame humor is less likely to happen or to be as successful. At the end of the time frame is usually when humor will happen more frequently and with a higher success rate.

Humor promotes positive emotional responses. Positive emotional response helps to build group cohesion. Positive emotions lead to increased group commitment to each other. Humor helps to decrease resistance to influence and helps to equalize relations. Humor helps people to have effective ties to a group.

When I came across the two articles that I choose, their subject matter intrigued me. When I read them, I did so with the thought of maybe they could help explain to me why humor effects people the way it does and how humor is used to its advantage in peoples lives.

Humor can be used to build up one’s status within a group. Until I read about it, I didn’t realize that it could be so. I think humor is best used to relieve tension in a group and to build camaraderie.

Why do I care about humor? It is a big part of who/what I am, I think it is a big part of who and what most people are. Life should be fun. Even in the darkest days of your life that you may find yourself in, humor can help not just lighten the load, but to illuminate your soul. Have you ever commented on someone and said, “boy he/she has a personality like a dead fish.” What you perceive in that person is a lack of humor. Humor makes or breaks a person’s personality. Humor has an effect on a person’s ability to be personable. People with a “good” sense of humor are more approachable than people who are not.

Sarcasm is the dark side of humor. Sarcasm means, “to rip the flesh” (The American Heritage Dictionary 623), it is verbally whipping someone, just as a real whip leaves scares on ones back, sarcasm leaves scares on ones psyche. Down through the ages humor has been and unfortunately will continue to be used against the betterment of humankind. Humor in and of its self is neither good nor bad. It is what the human spirit uses it for that determines its purpose.

Ethics of the mind, outside of the mind ethics does not exist and neither does humor. No other species on earth exercises ethics nor do they exercise humor. Humans alone share this quality. Humor can be exercised for good or for evil that is or choice our moral dilemma.


Wrench, Jason S. and James C. McCroskey. “A Temperamental Understanding of Humor communication and Exhilaratability.” Communication Quarterly Spring 2001: v49 i2 142-160, Web: Expanded Academic ASAP, InfoTrac, Tacoma Community College. Lib., Tacoma, WA 18 Feb. 2003.

Robinson, Dawn T. and Lynn Smith-Lovin. “Getting A Laugh: Gender, Status, and Humor in Task Discussions.” Social Forces, Sept 2001 v80 il 123-161. Expanded Academic ASAP, InfoTrac, Tacoma Community College. Lib., Tacoma, WA 18 Feb. 2003.