Prof. Clare W. Graves and Dr. Don Beck developed Spiral Dynamics®. It is a model of the evolutionary development of human consciousness. It helps to interpret values in individuals, organizations, and society.
Spiral Dynamics® looks at the worldviews or filters we see the world through. Such worldviews are defined by their values, value hierarchy, sense-making strategies, and meaning.
Values are the data points of the internal framework that decisions are run against to decide whether to act on them or not.
Value hierarchies resolve conflicts between values in decision-making, assigning individual weights to them.
A sense-making strategy helps develop a map to navigate and manipulate the world and refine the hierarchy of values.
Meaning comes in two flavors:
- The meaning of life is the worldview’s explanation of why things exist.
- The meaning in life is finding my place and purpose within my worldview.
Worldviews are shared between humans by imprint, education, enculturation, and socialization.
A meme, plural memes, is some content of consciousness, e.g., a thought. More broadly, it is an element of a culture or system of behavior passed from one individual to another by imitation or other non-genetic means.
This is why the worldviews in Spiral Dynamics are called value memes.
Spiral Dynamics also describes a process of change. This shows how people react to changing life circumstances.
In today’s society, seven value systems are important and active:
Value systems emerge when life conditions change. Each value system is suitable for a category of problems. It also creates new issues of higher complexity, for which it is itself blind.
Only the following value system makes it possible to solve these problems. More complex solutions are possible because people can hold more complex thought patterns.
We can observe this development in societies. They become more complex, evolving from tribal to modern cultures.
We can see the same development in the individual. Every human being is confronted with increasingly complex living conditions during his or her life. People respond to these with the personal development of the mind.
Self-actualization systems like Beige, Red, Orange, and Yellow alternate with self-sacrificial systems like Purple, Blue, Green, and Turquoise. It is a healthy pendulum movement that creates balance.
Each value system builds on its predecessor. It can only emerge if the previous system has developed enough and its problems become plain.
The transition to Yellow as the first value system of the so-called 2nd Tier is interesting.
Transition to the Yellow value system, by ValueMatch