About What is SPIRAL DYNAMICS®?

The term, SPIRAL DYNAMICS®, means different things to different people. At NVCC it refers to a brand and a trademark defining NVCC’s workshops, training, consulting, assessments, services and various products incorporating the work of Clare W. Graves. These products and services are all designed to help you get at the map to the nature of human nature. The Spiral model offers a point of view and a way of thinking better about differences in leadership, learning, management, social structures, economics and virtually every other area where human coping strategies have an impact. That’s saying a lot because the perspectives we use are a broad view of who we are and who we might become as Homo sapiens.

“Spiral” depicts how people develop diverse worldviews and the characteristics of those varying perspectives; it is a metaphor for the double-helix form used by Dr. Clare W. Graves. “Dynamics” explores the process of emergence and how living systems evolve, grow and change. For an overview of the theory, please click on the “About Spiral Dynamics” link at the top of your screen.

In our SPIRAL DYNAMICS® programs we explore things like why we cooperate, collaborate and conflict over differences in values and the value systems that form them. We concentrate on human thinking systems—deep structures—instead of the surface attitudes and beliefs that form their contents.

People who really understand the various models covered in a typical SPIRAL DYNAMICS®training recognize that it’s not a typology, a stairway to godliness, a religion, a weapon, a cult, a panacea, a hierarchy of intellectual capital or a pedestal from which elitists can look down on the rest of us. Instead, we incorporate a theory of how people frame the reality they experience—how people see their worlds, why they choose to do what they do from a set of distinct ‘logics’ and what others can do because of that diversity of systems. It is a window through which to look into the many ways humans have found to explain why what happens does happen and to use that knowledge to build systems which fit people better as they are, as as they become. Our work seeks compassion and integration without dismissing differentiation and importance of taking human variability and change into account.

The 1996 book, Spiral Dynamics: Mastering Values, Leadership, and Change, is largely a simplification and business-oriented popularization of Dr. Graves’s “emergent, cyclical, double-helix model of adult biopsychosocial systems development”—“levels of existence theory” for short. It’s a bridge that seeks to cross the lines of disciplines and knowledge sets to pull many ways of knowing together. The work is rooted in systems theory and developmental psychology, and concentrates on the mature adult personality in operation with all its permutations, positive and negative traits. (see SDStore tab for books and our Graves website for papers)

Graves’s very descriptive label, “biopsychosocial systems,” suggests the imperative to integrate biological/genetic factors with psychological factors and sociocultural forces in a systems view. (One reason good intentions fail is that all these elements are not incorporated in the solutions and addressed simultaneously.) A sub-movement that calls itself “integral” has adopted some of the principles and much of the language of the Spiral, and we await a shakeout among its followers to see if that’s ultimately terribly destructive or a stimulus for additional legitimate work. Either way, the Gravesian legacy stands well on its own.

The material in SPIRAL DYNAMICS®  training programs is conceptually rich. Many other useful theories, models, knowledge sets and techniques can be sorted through the Spiral lens to better match therapists with clients, teachers and students, managers and employees, governance and governed, investigators with topics. These models can be adopted to complement other ways of knowing, ranging from strategic approaches to personal growth.

By using SPIRAL DYNAMICS® tools, business people can understand organizational culture with more finesse. Coaches can better work with clients in transition and maximize those at stability. Educators can design learning that makes better sense with more relevance to learners. Parents and their children can begin to recognize each other’s needs and viewpoints. Managers can address human factors dilemmas because we describe them in a language that reaches far beyond the usual demographics. Marketers can improve communications, and health care providers can reach patients more effectively. Religious leaders can tailor their efforts to serve a range of groups simultaneously, and the average person can find comfort in what sometimes feels like an incomprehensible world. Why? Because one of the key principles in our programs grants human beings the right to be who they are, a window to see how they might be, and a map to find where others are.

In SPIRAL DYNAMICS® training we share a way of thinking and making connections that, while not new or revolutionary, gives more explanatory power than practically anything else by providing a means to pull lots of information and insight together and then to focus it. The Spiral is not merely a color code of categories. It is, a complex and highly enriching way of thinking about things if the underlying principles are understood and applied.

The term, “Spiral Dynamics”, is a registered trademark of NVC Consulting protected by international treaty. It is also in the title of the 1996 book—Spiral Dynamics: Mastering Values, Leadership, and Change, that laid the groundwork the application of Gravesian theory. It is a brand that, when used by NVCC or NVCC affiliates, represents a body of intellectual property, including copyrighted and proprietary materials, that we protect to the best of our ability.