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Barrett Values Spiral Dynamics Culture Model

Barrett Values Spiral Dynamics Culture Model

  • 12 July 2017
  • Posted by Marcella Bremer

Richard Barrett’s evolutionary model of development of personal and organizational values is impressive - as described in his book Building a Values-Driven Organization: A Whole System Approach to Cultural Transformation. The model is based on Don Beck’s Spiral Dynamics (levels of consciousness), integrated with Barrett’s own seven levels of consciousness model and Ken Wilber’s four Quadrants.

Barrett developed a whole-system approach to cultural transformation - that aims to create parallel shifts in Wilber’s four Quadrants. To practically work with his model, Barrett developed the Cultural Transformation Tools (CTT). Barrett’s model counts seven “levels of consciousness” - focused on Survival, Relationships, Self-Esteem, Transformation, Internal Cohesion, Making a Difference, and finally, Service.

Seven consciousness levels

The idea is that people and organizations develop gradually, going through several value states that cannot be skipped or changed (just like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs). The values of earlier stages don’t disappear but stay in the background. These development stages are in adapted form also included in the work of Frederic Laloux, Bruce Schneider, and Dave Logan.

The evolutionary organizational states and culture types are depicted in the image.

According to Barrett, only the lower three culture/organizational levels have shadow sides or unhealthy behaviors, based on fearful egos.

* Can you categorize your group or organization in the Spiral Dynamics types? With which awareness level does your organization operate? What are the shared core values?

Plotting values

The CTT assessments ask people to choose their top ten personal values, as well as the top ten current cultural values (as they see demonstrated in their workplace) and the top ten cultural values they would like to see in their organizations. The list of 80-100 values/behaviors to choose from are characteristics of these seven levels.

The CTT produces a Values Plot that demonstrates the alignment of the top Personal Values, Current Culture Values and Desired Culture Values according to the Seven Levels of Consciousness model. It also includes the “cultural entropy” that measures the internal frictions, relationship issues, system problems, and misalignments that hinder organizational performance - because energy is used that does not contribute to useful work. Barrett even suggests calculating the cost of fear in your organization.

Another way the results are plotted is the “Business Needs Scorecard” that divides values and behaviors into the categories of finance, fitness, client relations, evolution, culture and societal contribution.

The assessment also counts the number of “limiting” values (for instance: short-term focus, bureaucracy, control) versus the number of “positive” values (for instance: customer satisfaction, empowerment, open communication).

Once the values of the individuals, the current culture, and the desired culture are mapped, Barrett’s whole-system change model can be applied to achieve personal alignment, group cohesion and structural alignment – including changing underlying structures, processes and reward systems. As you can see, it's a different theory than the Competing Values Framework that is descriptive and not normative (it is not indicating a best/better culture type and development). The CVF is more concise with one validated assessment (made as short as possible but still reliable and valid) and four archetypes of culture that are easy to remember and work with.

In this blog series, I compare other culture models with the Competing Values Framework. Feel free to let me know what you think!

Do you want to know how your organization scores on the Competing Values Framework? Do the free individual OCAI trial here. Or check out the paid Pro and Enterprise assessments for teams and organizations.

© Marcella Bremer 2017. All rights reserved.