Graves Values and Spiral Dynamics

The Graves Model is often referred to as Spiral Dynamics. The new term was given by Don Beck, a student of Clare Graves. The term has become established in many areas, especially since it is also often used by Ken Wilber.

For further information about the Graves model please refer to the e-book that Stephan Landsiedel wrote on this topic. You can download the e-book free of charge: To the free Graves E-Book.


  1. The Background
  2. Graves Levels
  3. Presentation of the different Levels
  4. The Memes in the Spiral Dynamics Model
  5. Don Beck and his Theory
  6. The Development of NLP after Graves
  7. Application of the Graves Value Model

The Background

The Graves Model ist the emergent, cyclical double helix model of mature, adult biopsychosocial behaviour.

Each class of problems or challenges is solved by the creation of a value system. Up to now mankind has created eight different value systems: Such value systems are mechanisms that the psyche has developed to deal with certain environmental situations appropriately. If the problems and challenges faced by an individual or a society change, then their value system also changes. Value systems are therefore appropriate if they enable congruent problem-solving behaviour. However, they must not be compared with each other independently of the context.

Value systems emerge anew again and again through changes in the milieu.

Maslow's Pyramid of Needs

Abraham Maslows pyramid of needs was the most famous model for the ontogenetic development of a human being in the 1930s. However, his theory was unfounded and gave Clare Graves - a contemporary of Maslow - cause for criticism.

Pyramid of Needs

In his opinion, Maslow's view of the self-actualizing human being was too inflexible. He did not accept the end point of Maslow's pyramid as the end point of development, because Graves believed that certain value systems (=Meme) developed in response to certain human conditions of existence. Such memes are, on the one hand, psychological attempts to react appropriately to certain historical conditions of existence and, on the other hand, they are counter-movements to the respective prevailing value system (antithetics).

Clare W. Graves

Clare W. Graves (1914-1986) was an American professor of psychology at Union College in New York and was the pioneer of Spiral Dynamics with his Meme model. The impetus for the development of this model was provided by central questions from his students: Why are people different? Why do some change? Why do some understand the highest human development goal of "self-realization" to be such completely different things?

Grave's answer was: "In short, I maintain that the psychology of mature people is an unfolding, oscillating, spiral process, emerging from previous stages, characterized by the subordination of lower-ranking older behavioral systems to newer, higher-level systems above, as the existential problems of humanity change."

By this he means that human development is continuous and never ends. It changes with the change of human conditions of existence and thus creates new systems in which the old systems are integrated. When a new system or stage unfolds, we also change our psychology and our habits of living to adapt to these new conditions. A wide variety of life forms are possible in this potentially open value system. There is no final stage that everyone must reach. The individual, companies or even whole societies, can only react positively to management principles, motivational incentives, educational principles and permitted or ethical ideas that correspond to the current stage of this human existence!

Cyclic double helix

Every value system arises at the intersection of two forces, namely the problem and the respective problem-solving approach.

A value system reflects how people think, i.e. their values and belief structures. However, they must not be confused with the subject or the respective content of the thinking. Value systems are rather a scheme or a way of thinking. Often value systems that are diametrically opposed in content, such as a fundamentalist religion and so-called "atheistic communism", are merely forms of one and the same value system.

The Graves model has enormous explanatory and predictive value and can be applied to all aspects of biological, psychological and sociological behaviour. It explains both individual behaviour and international political interactions: Different thinking about religion, the meaning of human existence, economics, politics, family, education, health and leisure, as well as different patterns of goals, ethics, motivation, lifestyle and organisation. Entering or leaving the respective system is triggered by forces from the milieu in which the respective system exists. However, the depth structures of the Graves model correspond to types of thinking, not types of people. These patterns represent biopsychosocial systems and are neither a typology of people nor discrete stages of human development. They reflect systems in the repertoire of human behavioural possibilities, which is why every person has certain mental patterns that can be activated by different contexts and situations.

The Levels

LevelState of the worldPromising Reactions
1. level:
natural state
Natural state with food shortage, no protection or safetyThe behaviour is survival oriented, like in animals
2. level:
tribal life, magic
The forces of nature instill fear and are unpredictable or inexplicable. They are experienced as threatening.People join forces with others to ensure safety and appease the evil spirits through magical rituals that reduce fear.
3. level:
knight, hero, loner
Only the strongest survive. Aggressions and hostilities are part of everyday life. The world is difficult and hard, so that only the fittest can survive.Fight for survival at the expense of others and do everything in your power to be the strongest / a hero.
4. level:
System of Loyal Bureaucracy
The law of the fist has brought much suffering. The privileged have totally exploited the poorer ones. The world is controlled and guided by God.Rules, laws, treaties, constitutions, to which everyone must abide, are a further development. People believe in the truth and everyone follows and obeys the higher authority.
5. level:
materialist, capitalist
Progress brings the possibilities for material prosperity. The world is full of possibilities for progress and material prosperity. Various possibilities are pragmatically tested for their probability of success. It is worthwhile to become self-employed or to conduct profitable business.
6. level:
movement, relations (green)
The material social development enables the question of meaning to be asked. The home town of true humanity.People join together in communities so that all can participate equally in growth and experience a sense of sense of life.
7. level:
dolphin, borderline experiences (yellow)
Prosperity enables completely new thoughts, hopes and breakthrough experiences. It makes sense to solve existing problems efficiently and effectively from new perspectives and to experience a feeling of flow.
8. level:
Transpersonal view (turquoise)
The world is one big living being (Gaja). The earth is on the verge of collapse. There is a danger that humans will destroy it.The individual is looking for the secret hidden order behind the obvious chaos. Only a consciousness of a higher order and a transpersonal search for global solutions will banish the danger of destruction.

The Characteristics of the Levels

The emergent-cyclic double helix model for the biopsychosocial development of adults postulates eight levels:

  • Beige: reactive, autistic, archaic-instinctive; the focus is on survival or the fight for survival.
  • Violet: animistic, tribalistic, safety oriented. The person sacrifices his own wishes for the tribe, the chief or the spirits.
  • Red: egocentric, self-oriented, hedonistic, magical. The self wants to express itself here and now and does not care about others.
  • Blue: absolutist, conformist, pious. The self sacrifices itself for later reward (in heaven etc.)
  • Orange: success-oriented, materialistic, objectivistic. The self calculates its own interests in order not to come into conflict with others.
  • Green: personalistic, group-oriented, humanistic. The self is willing to sacrifice itself for others.
  • Yellow: systemic, existential, functional. The self is interested in momentary self-expression, but not at the expense of others.
  • Turquoise: experience-oriented, thinking globally, synergistic. The self is now ready to sacrifice itself so that life can continue.

The Problems of the Levels

Each level of the Graves model represents a solution strategy and an answer to a class of problems. Therefore, each level can be seen as a link between a group of problems or challenges that people think up in order to deal with the corresponding problems.

BeigeMaintain physiological stability and integrity
VioletAchieving relative safety
Redliving with self-awareness
BlueAchieving lasting peace of mind
Orange Conquest of the physical universe
Green emphasis on interpersonal values
Yellow Restoring the quality of life in a "sick" world
Turquoiseacceptance of existential dichotomies

Presentation of the different Levels

Level 1: reactive, automatic meme

Small groups and gangs whose main concern is biological survival. At this level of development all energy is directed towards survival. People of this level live only in the present. In pre-tribal cultures this "animal" way of life existed, today it can be found in children, mentally handicapped or senile people, in some cases also in drug addicts. However, this condition can also be caused by extreme stress and life-threatening situations.

„Survival at all costs.“

100,000 years ago

Self-expression with the aim of survival

The world is indeterminate and vague, based on biological imperatives. Life is instinctive and consists in submitting to the will of nature without resistance

Life goal:
Immediate satisfaction of periodically occurring physiological needs (food, drink, security) to ensure survival of the species.

Solution Strategies:
Responds to environmental changes with the aim of survival. Changes and moves quickly and automatically depending on the changing resources and necessities of life. Is dependent on life support systems with minimal awareness of self and others. Small social groups work together to collect or hunt food to avert danger and reproduce. The behaviour is mainly based on the stimulus-response model with instinct as the key to survival.

Expression Forms

  • Low: Helpless, oscillating between life and death, minimal perception of reality
  • High: Self-sufficient at low level, in a passive way with reality immediately, existential preservation values

Organisational Structure:
Small groups, herd behaviour. The stronger ones protect the weaker ones and the groups come together for mating, food acquisition and migration. Movements depend on the weather and food resources.

Learning System:
Genetic programming, habits

Activation of instinctive memory, learning by observation, main input through touch and taste, no conceptual learning.

Incentives to Learn:
Motivated by immediate physiological needs

Percentage of the Adult Population:
Approx. 0.1%

Level 2: tribalistic, animistic meme

The energy in self-sacrifice is directed towards the survival of the tribe, the attention is on the present and the past. People are dependent on the chief or the clan or tribe. Such a way of thinking dominated most pre-democratic cultures and can still be found today in diluted form in clubs, close family units, sports teams. But this level also appears in some parts of Africa, South America, Oceania and the Arctic.

„There is no such thing as coincidence.“

50,000 years ago

Sacrifice your own desires for the benefit of the tribe, the chief, the spirits.

The world is enigmatic, full of good and evil spirits that rule the world. The clan and the sacred objects must be protected from the dangers.

Life Goal:
Maintaining security and protection, adhering to tribal traditions, willing to sacrifice oneself for the tribe.

Solution Strategies:
One relies on magic, totems, taboos or omens, and graciously tunes the spirits. The individual finds security and protection only in the family, clan or tribe, accepting the role assigned to him in the tribe and feeling pride in his tribe or its symbols.

Expression Forms:

  • Low:Extremely dependent on the chief and/or a cult; anxious to observe taboos and rituals
  • high:Loyal and trustworthy; finds his strength and security through a caring chief and/or a helpful family; inspired by heroic role models

Organisational structure
Tribe, which is led by a council of elders (shaman, chiefs). The roles are determined by gender, age, physical strength, etc. The norms of the tribe are sacred and are rigidly defended or require absolute obedience. Learning System:
Classical conditioning by association of different things.

Learning Style:
Reflective, i.e. a paternalistic teacher conditions the desired responses to certain sensory inputs; needs-oriented learning: the learner copies behavioural patterns from others; procedural (step by step), process-oriented, linear sequential sequences; rituals and rites structure everyday life and thus support memory as well as automated behaviour. Use of magic/fantasy, symbols, drawings, as most are illiterate. Repetitive music supports long-term memory by using songs and smells as anchors.

Information is only passed on via the clan leader, printed words are perceived as unreliable.

Incentives to Learn:
Tangible recognition for learning achievements; interest in anything that increases safety and helps to satisfy biological urges.

Percentage of the adult population:
approx. 10%

Level 3: egocentric, exploitative meme

level of worker with macho behaviour from the American South. The energy is invested in self-expression, with the aim of achieving immediate satisfaction of sensual needs and without consideration for others. This form can be found today mainly in repressive political regimes and dictatorships. It can also be seen in the outbreak of violence in cities, in wars and between drug gangs.

„I get all I can get, and the only thing that matters is not to get caught.“
„The right of the strongest.“
„I want everything, and I want it now.“

10,000 years ago

Impulsive expression of one's own self without consideration for others

The world is full of aggression, hostility, selfishness and is ruled by power.

Life Goal:
Getting and exercising power in order to satisfy one's own needs. Power is seen as the only way to satisfy one's own needs and to be able to satisfy oneself against imaginary or real paternalism. One's own independence is above the thinking and feeling of other people. Respect is sought, shame and embarrassing situations are avoided.

Solution Strategies:
Is willing to use all necessary means to exploit others and maintain power and control. Such individuals do not have a guilty conscience, they only trust themselves and are very careful not to lose face. Form of Appearance:
This way of life prevailed in hedonistic empires, today it is found in dictatorships or in certain reactive stages of child development or in wars between gangs with excessive power behaviour and in some rap music lyrics.

  • IntrovertedCynical, bitter, passive-aggressive and hostile
  • Extravert: brilliant appearance (clothes, cars), rebellious, willing to take risks, want to be in the middle of things

Expression Form

  • Low:Self-harming, rebellious, unable to move within the confines of society, extremely exploitative, often lawless and cruel
  • High:spontaneous, energetic, demanding and willing to break with tradition, innovative and autonomous

Organisational Structure:
Empire, strong hierarchy (from top to bottom), strength determines the structure of relationships, as long as you are supervised, work is done; everyone is only concerned with his own advantage.

Logical arguments and generally valid rules of conduct and politeness are completely unimportant, the only important thing is to convince your counterpart of your personal advantages.

Learning System:
Operant conditioning, by rewarding them for their learning achievements

Learning Style:
Punishment is counterproductive, respect between the two parties is extremely important; trial and error

Incentives to Learn:
Success must bring immediate confirmation, otherwise it is of no interest

Percentage of the adult population:
approx. 15%

Level 4: absolutist, holy meme

In the Graves model this plane is primarily conformist:
The typical American middle class, for example, lives in this value system. Present needs are sacrificed in order to receive future rewards: It is at this level that the idea of the drive for future rewards first arises. The highest commandments are obedience, punishment and system preservation and represent a necessary step in the formation of an ordered and progressive society among developing nations. In pure cultures we can find this type in doctrinal religions, absolutist philosophical and political systems. It is also particularly conspicuous in military and religious hierarchies.

„I sacrifice myself for the cause / organisation.“
„Give up now, reap later.“

5,000 years ago

Life has a meaning. Do what you want - without any consideration.

The world is deterministic and rationally ordered. People, things are classified in rigid categories

Life goal/ -incentives:
Adapting to the context of instructions - good and bad, control; feeling guilty, avoiding punishment

Solution Strategies:
obey rules, live in order, support the system through sacrifice and discipline

Organisational Structure:
Passive hierarchy, rigid rules for structures and rank

Learning system/ -style:
Learning to avoid "away from", indoctrination through more knowledgeable authority

You believe in God (Bible faithful Christian) and all the rules of the Catholics. You are a Bible believer and believe these to be the truth. There is only this right way. You are willing to follow all the rules. You live in stability and in orderly conditions.

Percentage of the adult population:
to approx. 30%

Level 5: multiplistic, materialistic meme

The self wants to set and achieve its own goals, it is about material reward, but in a way that does not arouse envy and resentment of others. At this level one finds the capitalist and materialist. This is about calculated self-expression, without the need to provoke others, but with the intention to intervene immediately with the reward, so that there is no retaliation later. The materialist believes that he can succeed by skilfully manipulating the system. This stage is the cornerstone of the thinking of modern industrialised nations. It shows itself in a highly technical society, as well as in sales, marketing and advertising.

„I want to maximise my profit.“

300 years ago

Calculated behaviour in order not to arouse the anger and resentment of others.

The world is full of riches, offering undreamt-of possibilities for each individual and entire cultures.

Life Goal:

  • Individual:Achieving goals, popularity, prestige
  • Cultural:Conquest of nature, unlocking its secrets, skilful use of resources to ensure a better life for all; fatalistic dogma is replaced by science and technology, prediction and destiny by human control of fate.

Solution Strategies:

  • Individual:Success is the result of competitiveness, investment of time and energy, willingness to take risks, free market
  • Cultural:Progress as a result of pragmatic invention strategies; realpolitik, which is ideological and success-oriented; free enterprise, progressive thinking and competition are promoted

Materialistic world view of the western industrial nations; dependent on constant development in the high-tech sector; the majority of the population is very status-conscious and constantly tries to climb up in the social ranking.

Expression Form:

  • Low:Fraudulent, extremely selfish, unscrupulous; people without "backbone"
  • High:high energy level

Organisational structure
Hierarchy, bureaucratic - status oriented, functional authority is an important characteristic for decision makers

runs from top to bottom and sideways; people are pragmatically only interested in what they get out of it in the end (career, money, reputation)

Learning System:
Expectational learning, in that the goal of learning satisfies their needs; they need reward to be motivated and they learn best through their own efforts and changing learning environments.

Learning Style:
trial and error - experimenting, examples of competitions with high-tech; using technology has a motivating effect; joy in analysing and taking things apart or putting them back together to make something better; almost compulsive drive to be the best, which often leads to constant stress and cardiovascular disease. Therefore, mastering the rules of a game is not experienced as an end in itself but as a means to win; risk increases the adventure, losing such people, experiencing them as failures and reaching the end of their possibilities.

Incentives to Learn:
Certificates, improved status

You are a very successful young entrepreneur. You are in the market to win and you are very successful. You work a lot and earn a lot of money. You are optimistic, you take risks. You use the resources that the earth offers you to lead a life of abundance. You have attended many training programmes and know many of the laws of success. You are looking for your autonomy and independence. You like competition (people like J. R. Ewing from Dallas).

Percentage of the adult population:
approx. 30%

Level 6: personalistic, relativistic Meme

Your own needs are subordinated in favor of others, so that everyone does well together. In this personalistic, humanistic level, energy is diverted in self-sacrifice with the goal of creating prosperity for all. This arises as a result of prosperity and as a response to a technological, alienated and impersonal society. Primary concern is for equality, benefits and humanitarian programs.

„Team player“
„Together, we are stronger.“
„Together, we will succeed.“

150 years ago

Willingness to self-sacrifice to improve the life for oneself and others.

Rediscovery of basic human values, the world is experienced as impersonalized, materialistic; Man is governed by technology and thus creates a spiritual emptiness that can only be filled by resorting to basic humanistic values.

Life’s goal:
Make peace with oneself and believe that people need each other. The exploitation of man by man should be stopped, consumer terror and the regulation of people’s lives should be overcome. Seeks to end world hunger, to overcome racism, the oppression of women, social alienation, etc.

Solution Strategies

  • Individual: I + You relationships are at the center, striving for a society through equality and humanity. Instead of material needs the emotional and spiritual are in the foreground.
  • Cultural: Society should become egalitarian so as to give every human being the chance to develop to their full human potential. The needs of all people must be treated equally (moral imperative). Achieving this requires persuasive and possibly legal action, as well as consensual decisions, group effort, harmony and peacekeeping.

The civil rights movement and the human potential movement came into being in the late 1960s and early 1970s (anti-Vietnam movement, hippy movement). Such an attitude is particularly evident in helping professions (social workers, teachers), especially in Scandinavia, and is becoming increasingly important in Japan, Germany and Switzerland. The Civil Rights Movement is a response to the ever-growing alienation and mechanization in highly industrialized societies with the goal of welfare statehood, equality before the law and humanitarian progress.

Forms of Expression

  • Low: Overly indulgent and unrealistic, idealistic. Sensations, feelings are overemphasized, while material results and the manufacture of products lose importance.
  • High: Congruent orientation to the interests of others. Individuals radiate inner peace and are well anchored in material reality. Emphasis on warm, responsible interpersonal relationships and social responsibility.

Organizational structure:
Social network involving all parties with equal rights and obligations for mutual benefit; little interest in status and privileges, but rather highlighting the human factor for progress.

Frequent communication in all directions, pursuit of consensus are, in addition to the question of what the individual employee / participant gains from it, are the central themes.

Learning system:
Learning through sympathized experience.

Learning Style:
Exploring, observing and taking feelings into account are the first steps in teaching people something. But modeling, feedback sessions, and the teaching of experiential truths should also be taught. Authority figures - unless they can integrate - are rejected, cooperation and acceptance are key to productive learning, while congruence and competition blocks motivation. One possible danger is exaggerated tolerance.

Learning motivation:
Mutual encouragement and support in the group.

You seek your inner peace. Your feelings and communication with others are much more important to you than cold rationality. You care for other people and build deep relationships with them. You can listen very well. You bring harmony into the lives of many people (Carl Rogers).

Proportion of the mature population:
ca. 15%

Level 7: systematic, existential Meme

The self expresses itself in order to be free, but not at the expense of others or the environment. Improving things without being ambitious is a goal of this meme. It responds to competence, reasons and needs, but not to status, eligibility, group or subject matter. Free from internal constraints, the focus is on flexibility, individual competence, self-motivation and understanding of division. People work for systemic, free-flowing, mutable forms of organization that can handle complex processes as well as uncertainty and rapid change.

„Flexibility, spontaneity and functionality have the highest priority.“
„There are many possibilities.“

50 years ago

But not at the cost of others

The world is in danger of collapsing due to the exploitation of nature and other people. This society sees life as something multifarious, paradoxical, ambiguous polycontextual, in which the balance between man and nature must be found again.

Life’s goal:
People should be made familiar with nature again and take on the world’s problems. Despite a rapidly changing world, one should live and act in as functional a way as is possible.

Solution Strategies:
The relationship of man to the world must be questioned in order to ensure survival. The theory of autopoietic systems, self-regulation, etc. forms the theoretical background for solution strategies.

Characteristic features:
People at this level of development strive to improve their performance without being ambitious. They compare themselves with themselves as a person in the past or in the future (ego-ideal). Competence, causes, reason, and necessity count for such individuals, while authority is rejected as well as age, status, dogma, or group affiliation.

The results of their work satisfy them, but they do not like to be over-praised or recognized. They fight for their rights without constantly looking for areas of conflict in their environment. These people are free of inner pressures and can enjoy life, their focus is on flexibility, individual competence, self-motivation and tolerance for paradox. Traditional values and responsibilities are not accepted.

Organizational structure:
Systemic Flow: For each task, there is an appropriate structure in those organizations that can handle complexity, uncertainty and rapid change.

Emerging gradually in Western cultures in the form of an intellectual attitude or a system of thought (theory of autopoietic systems, second-order cybernetics).

Learning Style:
Informative learning - Self-directed access to knowledge and materials.

Forms of Expression:

  • Low: The primary goal is to secure one's own living conditions. Solving secondary problems is avoided.
  • High: Acceptance of different experiences and the emphasis on functionality and the quality of "being" come first.

Learning Style:
Informational learning in all representational systems is possible. Access to learning materials and knowledge should be self-determined and adapted to one's own pace of learning. The learning goals are often unspecific, and the development of the individual proceeds without constraints and without fear. Competition and the desire for recognition do not exist, learners instead use what is available and work in non-structured environments with as much control over their own time as possible.

Learning motivation:
People set their own learning goals. Rewards as well are generated by the learner and not externally.

You see that the world is in danger of ruin due to some huge ecological or military collapse. The reason is that human and natural resources are being abused. You want to bring people back into contact with nature. You want to constantly improve your own performance. Knowledge and competence should be superior to rank, power and status. The grandeur of existence is much more important to you than material possessions. You are flexible and able to accept different experiences at the same time. For you, only internal motivators count. You write books to save the world from collapse. You recognize systemic relationships and point them out.

Proportion of the mature population:
ca. 1%

Level 8: transpersonal, global Meme

The self is willing to sacrifice oneself and others if necessary for global survival. This Graves Model level is the answer to the growing problems of global coordination and global survival. The focus here is on the survival of life on the planet. This goal must be placed above the self and others.

„Everything is connected and must be considered together.“

30 years ago

Willingness to sacrifice oneself and others when necessary for global survival.

A world that is on the road to geopolitical collapse, with shortsighted solutions threatening the ecosphere as a whole.

Life’s goal:
Meta-solutions are to be introduced independent of geopolitical and economic borders. War should be avoided, hunger, disease, political oppression should be overcome.

Solution Strategies:
Overcoming traditional human boundaries and building global networks. New ways of life are discovered that allow each individual to develop without questioning the interests of the whole. Therefore, human needs must be reconciled with the limited resources of the planet. However, one sacrifices oneself or others in order to restore the quality of life or the order of things or not disturb them.

Thinking of Post-New Age spirituality is the basis of this meme.

Forms of Expression:

  • Low: "The space cadet"
  • High: Prophet

Organizational structure:
Holistic organism in which each part contains the whole. The meta-management should combine competence and consensus in one's own or community interests in such a way that the well-being of the overarching whole is never lost sight of. Complex models are developed in which physics and meta-physics work together on a global information process (theory of the holistic universe, theory of morphological fields). Information from every corner of the globe is integrated to understand and influence the world as a whole, geopolitically and ecologically. Communication:
Available information is used if it is not experienced as imposed.

Learning Style:
Experiential learning. This form of learning can be done in any way, not by introducing new "learning toys" but by improving other important aspects of the learning system: for example, the relative dissolution of anxiety in the learning process, which makes it possible to learn faster and more effectively. An exchange with people who live in other states of consciousness is sought. Learning is primarily an interaction with global networks through which people's perceptions and awareness can expand. In the process, it will try out different ways of thinking and acting. Learning will become a new form of being, in the company of a collegial group of fellow thinkers scattered around the world. Thinking is intuitive and transrational or is made possible through holistic-synergistic processing of sensory input, through affective feedback and meta-processing.

Learning motivation:
Life is learning.

You are one of the leading minds on this planet for the development of consciousness. You experience the wholeness of everything that exists. For you, the world is a single, dynamic organism with its own collective mind. Everything connects to everything. Energy and information determine events on earth. You think holistically and intuitively. You are ready to sacrifice yourself and others if it is necessary for global survival. You are a pioneer of thought who finds and implements meta-solutions to ensure the survival of species beyond conventional geopolitical and economic boundaries. In addition, it is about avoiding war and overcoming poverty, hunger, illness as such, political oppression (Dalai Lama, Ken Wilber, Rupert Sheldrake).

Proportion of the mature population:
ca. 0.1%

The Memes in the Spiral Dynamics Model

Clare Graves' students have expanded his model and created Spiral Dynamics - one of the most precise models of cultural development. But Spiral Dynamics does not take a one-dimensional perspective, nor does it view people with a cold analytical distance, but rather provides a clear, deep insight into the fluid patterns of the human psyche. Convictions and values often unconsciously guide our decisions or shape our identity.

Personal experiences are placed in the overall historical context of our human development, which leads to a liberating objectivity. This development is part of every human being and ranges from the most primitive survival instinct (beige) to spiritual aspirations (turquoise). Spiral Dynamics is constructed as a spiral, as it is an expression of natural and cosmic forces, which can be found in everything: The spiral form can be found in our DNA, in our galaxies etc..

The spiral, with its upwardly expanding structure, best describes the evolution of human consciousness, as it corresponds to the unfolding way of thinking and the ever increasing complexity. But this development only began 100,000 years ago as the "first tier level" (=first level/rank ? Memes 1-6) with the need to survive. The "second tier level" (Memes 7-8) represents the "level of being".

Graves Value and Spiral Dynamics E-Book

Don Beck and his Theory

The "Spiral Wizard" Don Beck uses his model to change large systems within and between the various sectors or cultures of the world community. For such large-scale interventions and transformations, he created a new initiative called "Spiral Dynamics integral" (SDi). It is intended to enable human transformation and worldwide reconciliation. But there is still a long way to go, because according to the concept of Spiral Dynamics, man's nature is not unchangeable:

People can create new worlds, i.e., they can adapt to situations by creating a more complex way of thinking in order to solve problems. This requires an adaptive, context-dependent intelligence that can respond to different living conditions. For Don Beck et al. the focus is always on the causal dynamic forces produced by living conditions as well as coping mechanisms and collective intelligences.

In the concept of Spiral Dynamics, these collective intelligences are called memes: memes (value systems) react like genes, viruses and bacteria to the same elementary principle of the universe, the concept of regenerative capacity. Each successive meme receives another more complex organizational principle with specially calibrated priorities, mentalities and specific baselines. This is a problem-solving method that focuses on what is most important, depending on the response to living conditions.

Similar to the replicating DNA code, a meme code is a bio-psycho-social and spiritual blueprint that spreads throughout culture and manifests itself in all areas of cultural expression. It forms the survival code, the myths of origin, artistic design, lifestyles and sense of community. Crises and conflicts will trigger the shift to the next higher level of human development, yet the spiral will never reach a final stage, but will continue to expand expansively and dynamically. According to Ken Wilber, every new social level transcends all previous ones, but includes them as well. Therefore, the more complex thinking systems also have a higher degree of freedom.

But until the yellow and turquoise codes are reached, a lot of time passes, because memes are not human types, but adaptive intelligences in humans. However, various fragments or components already exist, so sharing and forming a "syndicate of creative minds" is important.

Don Beck: Graphical representation

1. level
Survival, foraging, reproduction, instinct, hawker's tray mentality
2. level
Forming tribes (tribalistic), magic, family rituals
Ancestors (spirits), tribal members, medicine men
3. Level
power, egocentricity, myth, impulses, emotions, revenge
heroes, power gods, Oktoberfest,Mafia, cowboy, Lucky Luke
4. Level
herd mentality,almighty order, law, rules
scout, fundamentalist, civil service, socio-/ethnocentric
5. level
Rational, scientific profit, performance, worldcentric, market economy, introspection
materialists, capitalists, winners
6. Level
Human bonding, Öcology, equality, mediation relativistic, multicultural
Humanistic psychologists, constructivists, 68 movement, anti-authoritarian
7. Level
Integral, aperspectival, holarchic, growth of the whole spiral, integration of systems into systems, win-win relationship
8. level
Holonic, self-sacrifice for the world
prophets, Ökologen, Green Peace activists
9. level
astral-psychic, transpersonal
10 subtle
11 causal
12 non-dual
nature mystic

The Development of NLP after Graves

Within 30 years, NLP evolved from Graves Level 4 to Level 7. The first NLP generation (1972) was all about the development of simple steps and techniques.

The blue value system "Create Order" (Level 4 in the Graves Model) describes this stage most closely. Since 1980, the Orange memes developed, whose ideas of success led to huge courses with fire-walks, strong media presence and persuasion. Parallel to the 5th meme, the 6th Graves Level (green) was created in the form of a sensitive community with courses that focus on the we-feeling, group dynamics and the game.

At the beginning of the 90s, the fourth generation developed on the yellow 7th Level value system "Integral and Being Motivation": professional NLP training with new respectability, ethics and transformative themes. This includes visionary leadership, tools of the spirit and core transformation. The goal of this stage is to integrate all previous levels well, to increase people’s freedom of choice and flexibility, to develop one's potential on the level of self-motivation and to create space for questions about the meaning of life and creation towards the development of wisdom.

The development stages of humanity are therefore reflected in different stages of development in the providers of NLP:

5th Stage:

Progress brings opportunities for material prosperity.
"Success is everything!"

It pays to do profitable business as a self-employed person: capitalism, mastering, owning, manipulating, acquiring knowledge, acting independently, huge courses with fire-walks and media hype.

6th Stage:

Material social development makes it possible to ask the question of meaning.
"Sensitive community"

Communities enable a sense of purpose and personal growth: sensitive, consensual, harmonious, equal rights, team development, playful courses with group dynamics.

Paradigm shift from Scarcity Motivation to Being Motivation

7th Stage:

The prosperity allows completely new thoughts, hopes and breakthrough experiences. Internet age.
"Integral, wisdom, ethics, being motivation"

It makes sense to solve existing problems efficiently and effectively from new perspectives and to experience a flow feeling: delphinic, integration of professional NLP training with transformative themes.

8th Stage:
The earth is facing a collapse. There is a danger that humans will destroy it.

Only a consciousness of a higher order and a transpersonal search for global solutions will banish the danger of destruction: Transpersonal, extended use.

Application of the Graves Value Model

In the Resolution of Conflicts (quoted after O.p.a.l.)

As large companies usually have a mixture of blue, orange and green levels, conflicts are pre-programmed.

The "Oranges" reject the "Blues" because they believe they block changes and they reject the "Greens" because they always want to integrate all opinions and therefore discuss endlessly. The "Greens" do not like the heartless, money-oriented "oranges" and distrust the "blues" with their hierarchies and fixed structures.

But let's fill the example with a little more life:

Human resources departments are often "green" and are committed to the well-being of employees (e.g. through Personnel development, employee incentives). The Management is often "orange". For them, the performance of the employees is the top priority. For this reason, some managers regard personnel development as a waste of time. The "Greens" devalue the "oranges" and the "oranges" do not understand the "Greens" at all.

Can conflicts in your company also be explained in this way?
What are your hypotheses?
The problem is that every person and every company considers its own level to be the only right one and attacks the others. At our current level we also devalue our old developmental stages, which we have already left behind. We have evolved and now we feel sublime to people at lower levels. We cannot yet understand the way of thinking of people in the upper stages of development.
Only from the yellow level (7 in the Graves model) do we have an integral view. From this level on, we value people at all levels.

When used for Staff Management

Problems in Companies

An individual, a company or even a whole nation can only respond positively to the management principles, motivational incentives, educational principles and ethical values that correspond to its own level of development.
This means that the individual development stages require different management and communication styles and approaches. For example, "blue" employees are good at motivating you with a title or status symbol. Meanwhile, "orange" employees can be inspired with a performance-related bonus. These incentives would be ineffective with "green" employees. Here teamwork in a "valuable" project is more promising.

However, our stage of development is not static, it is changing. Every human being / every system develops upwards in the long term as the complexity of the environment increases. When we have reached a new stage of development, we change our view of the world, our way of thinking and our habits of life in order to adapt to the new conditions. We then carry the developmental stages we have passed through within us in the future. This is just as true for an evolving system.

However, a person/system can fall back to a lower level in crises. For example, during recession and unemployment, social thinking (level green) may first fall back and fierce competition (level orange or red) may arise. If we have successfully mastered the crisis, we will relatively quickly return to our "old" level of development.
What conclusions can be drawn from the knowledge of the different developmental stages for the professional working day?

Exercises on the Graves Model

Remember a situation with an employee, a colleague or a superior that was a bit tense and conflictual. Pick a person you suspect of being at a different stage of development.

Please note the following points:

  • Every person evaluates things differently because they think differently. People think differently because they have different brains!
  • Different organisations take different positions on the "psychological map" and it is therefore important for them to develop different management strategies that suit their employees and their areas of activity. Managers should maintain a consistent and systematic approach so that all parts are "connected".
  • In this way the personnel search is started correctly, the selection as well as the placement and training of the employees up to the personnel management and marketing form a unit. In addition, organisations should organise their management system from the bottom up in order to be able to respond adequately to employees. But these are changing, moving further on the "psychological map"!
  • Marketing strategies often fail because they are a reflection of the designer. They correspond to his own value system, but not necessarily to that of the audience he wants to reach.
  • Therefore the question is not how I can motivate people, but how I can relate my actions to their natural flow of motivation.
  • The current productivity problem is a sign of growth and culture, not a sign of their decline. So we need to find new ways of dealing with people, based on what we have now become. Learners, trainers and their teaching strategies need to be coordinated.

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