Course: Organization by Natural Design

Many people exposed to Re-inventing or Teal Organizations, Integral Theory, and/or Spiral Dynamics love the concepts but struggle to work out how to apply the theory in practice. Dr Peter Merry has been applying them to organizations for nearly 20 years. In this short course he shares his understanding of the theories as well as his framings for and experiences of organizational design and development. His experience covers corporations, government and NGOs.

The Live Online version of this course includes 4 hour-long live sessions with Peter Merry, every Friday at 16.00 CET.

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of the microcourse, you should be able to:

  • explain how Integral Theory and Spiral Dynamics can be applied to organizations
  • use the theories to inform your conversations with colleagues and clients in organizations
  • analyze the current situation and dynamics in an organization from an integral evolutionary perspective
  • explain how change works in organizational cultures and systems
  • design interventions in organizations informed by an integral evolutionary approach

The program includes:

– 10 videos
– downloadable pdfs of the slides used
– 4 live interactive webinars with Peter Merry (Live participants)
– links to extra resources
– quiz for you to check how much you have understood and what you need to take another look at
– group discussions and short assignments with interaction and feedback for those in the immersive version
– access to a private online group only for participants in this course (for Live participants includes interaction with Peter Merry)
– about 3 hours of work per week

Faculty:

Peter Merry, PhD is the Chief Innovation Officer at Ubiquity University, Founder of the Centre of Human Emergence Netherlands, and a Founding Partner of Engage!. His experience includes facilitating integral change processes in multinational organizations, in government ministries and in mutli-stakeholder initiatives with global stakeholders. He has also spent many years in the not-for-profit sector. He is a recognized expert in the field of energetics and evolutionary systems dynamics and Spiral Dynamics Integral in particular. His books include “Evolutionary Leadership”, Why Work? and Leading from the Field (forthcoming). He has a PhD with Ubiquity’s Wisdom School in Volution Theory.

Student Testimonial

If you are interested in developing yourself in a highly interactive, well resourced programme about how people can work together more satisfactorily with like-minded inquisitive, open people then this course led by Peter Merry is for you. (Course Participant – Andy)

The Pain and the Promise – Recording and Transcript of Presentation

I am currently writing a new book called The Pain and the Promise.

Here is a recording of a recent presentation with questions and reflection that I gave for the Integral Leadership Collaborative, a great initiative with a vast array of Integrally informed folks (see http://www.integralleadershipcollaborative.com). It lays out the essence of where I am at now and what the book will be about. It is 2 hrs in total. My core presentation goes for c 35 mins from c 10 mins in. The questions and discussion also proved very rich.

Listen to The Pain and the Promise audio

Download The Pain and the Promise transcript

Pre-Ego, Trans-Ego and the Archetypal

Here is a paper I wrote following the great teleseries that Wisdom Univeristy put on with Stan and Christine Grof, and their colleagues.

Pre-Ego, Trans-Ego and the Archetypal

Introduction

The key insights that I gained from reading Stan Grof’s work and following the teleseries resonated strongly with a theme I am exploring at the moment. It seems to me that the power of the work is that it is working in the non-egoic realms. Part of it is in the pre-ego (the peri-natal and birth work) and part is in the trans-ego (transpersonal). When those two are combined they serve to create energetic conditions for healing in the physical, emotional and rational realms.

A Hypothesis on Where Grof’s Work Resides

When I use the term “ego” I use it to mean one’s sense of separate self. There is a moment in our development when we become aware of ourselves as being distinct from our environment, and the egoic sense of unique self emerges. The ego goes through a process of formation and we then transcend the ego to see ourselves as part of a bigger whole. This graphic best describes how I see the work of Stan Grof and colleagues and is one I will refer to throughout this piece.

This image comes from the work of Dylan Newcomb[i], and builds on some research that we did together. The vertical sequence of colours, reflected in the shaded semi-circles, represents the value systems as described in the evolutionary model of bio-psycho-social systems known as Spiral Dynamics[ii]. The first column to the left describes the nature of each of the eight value systems, but it is the column to the left of that that I want to draw our attention to. Continue reading

The Hague Center for Global Governance, Innovation and Emergence

Just a note to say that the Center for Human Emergence Netherlands has submitted a proposal to the Dutch government to host the Hague Center for Global Governance, Innovation and Emergence. There was a funding opportunity which made us focus an intention that had been around for a while. This is going to happen, whether this particular funding comes through or not. Great partners have emerged, and conversations show that the time is right. A go-to place that initiates, supports and promotes an integral approach to global problem solving. You can download the proposal and accompanying documents, including letters of support from here. We’d love to hear your thoughts on what this Center could do.

Center for Human Emergence NL – Landing

We’ve been through an intense few weeks! Following on from the “releasing our claims” session and energetic dissolution of the Board mentioned in the last blog, we spent two days with Brian and Tom on holacracy, and an afternoon with Terry Patten from the Integral Institute.

One of the key things we learned from Holacracy was to look really clearly at what is actually there at the moment in terms of organisation – what is the organisation actually counting on people to do (accountabilities) – and to organise around that, rather than around the grand visions that we have of what we would like to be doing… That has provided great clarity and simplicity as we move into creating supportive organisational structure and processes that enable what is, whilst holding space for current tensions to manifest next steps.

There was a similar theme in our work with Terry, which was facing up to what is really present for people – surfacing the current tensions – “face everything, avoid nothing”, as one of Andrew Cohen’s tenet’s goes. It’s amazing how much we don’t say to each other, even though we consider ourselves to be “brothers/sisters-in-arms” on this evolutionary edge. Naming the judgements and tensions we are carrying releases huge energy to actually do the things that need to be done – engaging the issues that have been unspoken. It felt like a collective landing in the messiness of our relative reality – re-entering the marketplace as friends.

It feels to me as if dissolving the formal roles in the organisation has also helped people to be more themselves and get clearer on what their actual work is. And the funny thing is, the work that people are feeling called to still happens – without any formal structure! And that is what we are looking for – how can we create a minimal structure that simply aligns and supports the work that people are naturally being called to – whilst at the same time consciously identifying work that the organisation needs that currently isn’t being done – and finding the people that best fit that work.

It feels as if things are naturally falling into place, the dust of letting go attachments and fears is settling, and an eerie kind of calm is forming – fragile, delicate and real. As we enter the darkest period of the year, our roots are dropping deep, and we gather ourselves for the return of the light. The Spiral spins, the cycles turn and all is very well.

Devolutionary Leadership

OK, here we go. Feels like the start of a whole new domain of practice…

The first book I wrote was called “Evolutionary Leadership” (currently out in Dutch and looking for publishers in English and other languages), and focused on what an integral approach to facilitating emergence into integral evolutionary consciousness in self, culture and organisation might look like. It focused on the emerging second curve in this graphic:

s-curves of emergence


The book synthesised WilberSpiral DynamicsTheory ULaszloArt of HostingPeter Senge etc.

During our recent Art of Hosting Integral in the Netherlands, the following thought crystallised, which had been hovering in the background for a while:

The manner in which our dying paradigms, behaviours and systems are let go of is going to have a major impact on the quality of the space in which the new grows.

When an apple is not picked,  it falls to the ground and rots, fertilising the soil and potentially seeding a new apple tree.

As people in positions of power in our established institutions become increasingly aware that the paradigm on which those institutions have been built is largely inadequate to deal with the rapidly evolving and intensifying challenges of the world around us, there are essentially two paths we can take:

  1. We contract into a fear of the unknown, digging ourselves into denial, and lashing out around us to fend off anything that may prove to us that which we do not want to accept, holding on to our old ways for dear life (ironically)
  2. We relax into the inevitable, and open up to the opportunities that that may offer, letting go of what needs to be let go of, in order to take the next step

It has become clear to me that an essential part of our Work that does not seem to have been given much attention, is to find out how we can best nurture the natural decay of that which wants to die in such a way that it fertilises and seeds the soil for the new, rather than poisoning the soil with toxic sludge (so the descending curve in the graphic above). This is very different to attacking and trying to destroy the old. It will go of its own accord. It comes from a place of deep compassion and concern for the energetic dynamic-balance of the whole.

As our conversation about this unfolded, I was reminded of much of the great work that we have done in supporting individuals in their dying process, and someone put me on to the work of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. She identified five phases that people go through when they know they are going to die, and also that those around them go through in their grief. The five phases are :

  1. Denial: The initial stage: “It can’t be happening.”
  2. Anger“Why ME? It’s not fair!” (either referring to God, oneself, or anybody perceived, rightly or wrongly, as “responsible”)
  3. Bargaining“Just let me live to see my child(ren) graduate.”
  4. Depression“I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”
  5. Acceptance“It’s going to be OK.”

What I am interested in is how these could play out at a collective level. I remember reading an article once where someone said that individuals when they realise they are going to die get very clear about their life. The author pondered if it would help humanity if we woke up to the fact that we were part of the Sixth Great Extinction on this planet and that our survival was far from guaranteed. Would we then collectively get much clearer about our priorities?

I still notice a lot of denial around me in the formal institutions, and until we start to notice the anger I guess it means we’re not far beyond that denial. However, when the anger sets in, it may not look very pleasant. So how do we develop the capacity to help those in relevant positions to flow through these stages in such a way that they leave more fertiliser than sludge behind them? Clearly practices such as Tonglen have a role to play at individual level. However I would love to hear from people who have experience of or ideas about nurturing the natural decay of established and outdated institutions and practices, and ways of supporting leadership in this process go through a transcend and include process.

A part of the context for this for me is the approaching Fifth Night of the Galactic Underworld (as per the Mayan Calendar work of Carl Johan Calleman) – the phase that in all previous eras has heralded the collapse of the dominant civilisational form. The main difference being that in this Underworld it will happen over a period of 360 days (starting mid-November) rather than hundreds or thousands of years. All the signs are lining up so significantly that for a pattern-scanner it would be irresponsible to deny the building evidence.

So thoughts, links, references please, on how we might facilitate devolutionary leadership…

MeshWorks

I just wrote this as part of the preparation for our Global SDi/Human Emergence EuroConfab, and thought it might be good to share. This is a core capacity that we are being recognised for in the Netherlands today.

MeshWorks are one of the core products of SDi and Human Emergence practitioners. A MeshWork is a form of next generation network, where different parties are consciously woven together to serve a higher collective Purpose. What a MeshWork can achieve is way beyond anything that any of the individual parties could achieve on their own.

In a MeshWork, special attention is given to what the specific qualities of the different parties are, how their uniqueness can be enhanced and vitalised through their connection to other unique parties. We release a part by limiting it to its specific place in the whole. The combination of alignment behind one higher Purpose, buy-in to a collective set of Principles, and the uplifting of the identity and capacity of each of the parts, creates a powerful dynamic MeshWork that has a clear identity of its own, is diverse in its make-up, and is rapidly responsive and adaptive to the world around it.

Good MeshWorking requires giving attention to an integral combination of Leadership, Culture and Structure, reinforcing each other and strengthening the fabric of effective collaboration. It is the next emerging form as we explore how to organise ourselves to deal with the complex and urgent challenges we face in the world today.