What Is Spiral Dynamics®?

Spiral Dynamics tools, programs, consulting services and materials are designed to help individuals and organizations understand and navigate tough “people problems.” They are based on close to 70 years of combined research, field testing, and improvements.


Spiral Dynamics programs draw on the original work of Clare W. Graves, Ph.D, who began to develop a comprehensive model of bio-psychosocial development in the 1950s, differentiating people by their ways of thinking rather than by personality types.

The first managerial application was published in the Harvard Business Review in 1966. NVC Consulting co-founder Chris Cowan was inspired by Dr. Graves as his mentor and worked to develop applications of Graves’ model to workplace settings. Cowan co-authored the book Spiral Dynamics: Mastering Values, Leadership and Change in 1996, popularizing the term “Spiral Dynamics” and its practical application of Gravesian theory.

So while Spiral Dynamics grew out of scientific theory, NVC Consulting programs are focused on real-world applications. We can help individuals, teams, and organizations analyze and implement solutions to the human hurdles of organizational, leadership and personal development for lasting, bottom line results.

First, we help you use our proprietary suite of Spiral Dynamics tools to analyze your particular challenges. Whether problem areas involve managerial misalignment, team dysfunction, conflict among individuals or departments, we’ll help you to figure it out.

The metaphor of the iceberg is apt: Most people work at the surface – the visible tip of the iceberg. But the Titanic sank after a collision with the much larger, unseen portion of the iceberg below the water line.

So we go beneath the surface of human systems to help you understand the whole picture and the issues you need to tackle to steer forward.

Second, we help you ensure that solutions you are implementing match the problems they are intended to address. We look at the alignment of efforts. Perhaps a tweak is needed in the solution or the delivery—or perhaps the problems actually lie elsewhere.

We provide tools to look at each unique change process to ensure you know what is coming down the pike and how to keep it from getting derailed.

Third, rather than imposing our own one-size-fits-all views, values or approaches, we tailor programs and applications to you and what you need.

Our programs and tools are framed in a comprehensive psychosocial, evidence-based approach to human systems so we can detect the issues that other programs miss within, between and around people.

We don’t aim to change people’s basic natures, but we do show you how to:

  • Align efforts to the natural motivational flows in people;
  • Build more engaging and empowering environments;
  • Reduce conflict and foster collaboration among leaders, teams and departments;
  • Look through new eyes at old problems.

Don’t let “people problems” drive up costs and frustrate workforce development, leadership results, team effectiveness or organizational change. Contact us to learn how Spiral Dynamics programs and service can help you.