Spiral Dynamics 101, “John Mackey style”


I found a link to this overview of Spiral Dynamics from Beige to Turquoise that I hadn’t seen before today (thanks J.D.), based on reflections by Whole Foods Market CEO John Mackey. If you want Coral and the Third Tier, that will cost you extra.

The following overview of the Spiral Dynamics framework was excerpted from a 2006 keynote speech given by Whole Foods Market CEO John Mackey. Click here to view a transcript of Mackey’s keynote, which applied the Spiral Dynamics framework to the Food industry and global agricultural system. Mackey has since mobilized his company around the heroic purpose of creating a global sustainable agriculture system, improving world health, ending poverty and promoting conscious capitalism, which is a testament to the power of this model to promote disruptive change in business.

Based on decades of research starting in 1952, psychologist Clare Graves developed a theory of human evolution, which posited that the psychology of human beings transitioned throughout time base upon an ever increasingly set of complex life conditions. Graves classified a total of eight levels of increasingly complex human value systems (or vMemes) consisting of sets of world views, preferences, and purposes. Through these value systems, groups and cultures structure their societies and individuals integrate within them. Each distinct set of values is developed as a response to solving the problems of the previous system. His theory was further developed by prodigies Don Beck and Chris Cowan into a structured evolutionary model of adaptive intelligence called Spiral Dynamics.

Note that I have adapted various aspects of the framework to be consistent with my use of the model. In particular, I view the model as circular and not in hierarchical levels. The model has been criticized as elitist in that the higher value systems (levels) can be viewed as characteristic of more advanced human beings. I view the model as circular as Graves referred to the vMemes as awakenings, not levels. I interpret this to mean that everyone can awaken these values within themselves depending upon their own life conditions and priorities. I also believe there are positive aspects of each vMeme that are essential to one’s ability to enjoy a fulfilling and meaningful life experience.

Read the full article here.

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