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In the following section we will outline a few examples of how a more comprehensive and adequate approach—which takes into account the five major aspects of quadrants, levels, lines, states, and types—can offer fresh and innovative solutions to major problems. Obviously, in this short space we can only hint at the comprehensive nature of the Integral approach, but hopefully enough to suggest its possible importance.

Change Initiatives in Organizations: An Example from Business

The Integral Approach has many practical applications. It suggests that every transformational change effort needs to address all five of the major aspects of human beings. To do less than that is to leave out crucial variables that will seriously hobble effectiveness—whether the change effort involves helping individuals, creating personal meaning, addressing ecological issues, or managing sound and effective government and business leadership.

These insights can be applied to peak organizational as well as individual issues. Installing a new systems or process initiative without assuring an integrated balance of all relevant functions is a recipe for underperformance and in some cases disaster. Yet most leadership practices (in business, government, ecology, education) leave out some major aspect of human reality—they focus on only one quadrant, or only one level, or only one line, and so on—thus severely limiting their overall effectiveness.

This dangerous inadequacy returns to haunt the proponents of these partial models, as their very partialness tends to hobble truly effective change. Let's give a few well-documented examples of how such partialness can cripple business management and leadership theories and practices.

We have seen that all human beings have access to at least four major quadrants or dimensions: "I" or intentionality, "we" or culture, "it" or individual behavior, and "its" or systems behavior. In practice we find that most change agents (whether working with individuals, groups, or organizations) tend to focus on one of those quadrants at the expense of the others.

For example, behavioral modification focuses exclusively on the Upper-Right quadrant by attempting to directly change personal behavior. (In business, this includes such approaches as Total Quality Management and Theory X). Although they possess an important part of the puzzle of effective change, such methods do not address Upper-Left quadrant issues relating to individual psychological development and values-based motivations. Nor do they perform their interventions in the context of a supporting culture (Lower-Left quadrant) or organizational systems (Lower-Right quadrant). In effect, they leave out three-fourths of the factors required for a successful intervention.

Emotional intelligence training is one example of the methods (such as "Theory Y") that point out that productivity is often a product of the emotional and subjective wellbeing of the people involved. In other words, it focuses on a particular line of individual development in the Upper-Left quadrant, which can be very helpful, but it leaves out crucial factors in the other three quadrants (which usually return to sabotage any real change).

Likewise, corporate and organizational culture consultants focus on the Lower-Left quadrant, pointing out that extensive research has shown that much of an organization's performance depends on cultural values in the organization itself—an important piece of the integral puzzle, but one that, by itself, leaves out vital factors in the other quadrants.

Systems theory experts and systems managers focus on the networks of dynamic flows of products and information in vast systems of interaction. Again, this is another important piece of the integral puzzle, but one that leaves out the important interior dimensions of the I and we domains (which usually return to sabotage the system). In other words, systems experts tend to work the Lower-Right quadrant, neglecting or even excluding the other three. And so on.

What makes the Integral Approach so innovative is that, by using a more comprehensive map employing all four quadrants, the important contributions of all of those methods can be incorporated into a truly effective approach that covers all the bases. Each of those methods is addressing an important dimension of human existence, and by seeing how each of them fits together into a larger picture, they can all be used synergistically to significantly enhance effectiveness.

Including All Quadrants, All Levels, All Lines

Let's give a specific example of this using one of the quadrants—that of interior individual development (the "I," or Upper-Left quadrant). Dr. Robert Kegan of the Harvard Graduate School of Education (and a founding member of Integral Institute) is one of the world's leading psychologists and a pioneer in applying developmental theory to adult life and work challenges. In his book In Over Our Heads, Kegan documents how modern culture places implicit developmental demands on the average citizen that extend beyond the developmental levels that most other theorists document in today's developmental literature.

Kegan identifies five developmental levels or "orders of consciousness" that define how a person knows the world or constructs reality. The first three levels are similar to those found in today's child and adolescent development texts: impulsive (ages 2-6 yrs), egocentric (6-teens), and socialized or conformist (teens and beyond). Most adults (>80%) in developed nations reach at least the conformist or 3rd order of consciousness, where a person is able to internalize a value system, understand and respect the needs of others, and think abstractly.

In addition to the three commonly accepted stages or orders of consciousness development, Kegan adds two others—autonomous and integral. At the autonomous or 4th order of consciousness, a person becomes "self-authoring"—that is, they become capable of constructing their own value systems as opposed to operating within the value systems given to them by their culture, family, or place of work. And at an integral or 5th order, they begin to bring together and synthesize many different value systems into coherent and meaningful wholes.

The massive shift in the last 30 years from command-and-control corporate cultures to decentralized organizations—where business units, managers, and individual employees are given greater and greater latitude to design their own work in response to rapidly changing market conditions—reflects an implicit demand for 4th order consciousness in the workplace.

To illustrate this point, Kegan uses an example of two managers—Peter and Paul. Peter is an executive who has worked for Paul in the same company for 15 years and has moved up in the organization with Paul as Paul was promoted. Peter is characterized as a highly competent 3rd order manager and Paul a 4th order manager, with Paul initiating major new lines of business and other "out-of-the-box" ideas and Peter serving as a loyal lieutenant who uses Paul as a mentor and sounding board for all important decisions.

Paul, now a senior executive, gives Peter the opportunity to run a fully independent spin-off company of which the parent firm will own a majority stake. In the spirit of full empowerment, Paul makes it clear that all future decisions, from marketing to sales to pricing, will be Peter's to make and refuses to offer future advice on these matters other than to set broad objectives (e.g., profit) similar to those laid down by a board of directors to a CEO.

Peter is then left to face alone the conflicting demands of his sales force who resist being separated from the parent company, the challenge of developing an independent corporate identity with his sales channels, and the challenge of transforming a successful but conservative division into a entrepreneurial stand-alone company. In the process of trying to mediate these conflicting demands without Paul's support, Peter literally finds himself "in over his head" in meeting the 4th order tasks set in front of him.

Kegan goes on to show how most popular management theorists, either unfamiliar or dismissive of an adult developmental approach, wrongly assess Peter as having a skills or character deficit, where in fact the issue is the complexity or order of consciousness that Peter uses to construct his reality.

No amount of training or exhortation to self-empowerment will help Peter if his fundamental frame of reference is to work within an externally created value system. Like water to fish, working within a received frame of values is subject (implicit) rather than object (explicit) to Peter's current order of consciousness, and any attempt to help him construct a culture for his new company must address this vertical as opposed to merely horizontal developmental challenge.

Some leading-edge corporate training and research organizations are incorporating vertical as well as horizontal developmental models in their training and leadership efforts. For example, the Center for Creative Leadership has an ongoing research effort focused on how skills training (e.g., delegation) could be improved by customizing that training according to the level of consciousness of the person receiving the training. CCL has been working directly with Kegan in this important area of research.

Using Kegan's subject/object assessment tool (which requires about an hour of administration), it is possible to gain a reasonable assessment of a participant's order of consciousness and provide that information to a trainer or skills coach who can then tailor their training accordingly.

For example, working with a hypothetical manager such as Paul, who operates from 4th order consciousness, it would be possible to help train him on a variety of delegation styles that would be optimized for the level of development of his staff (e.g., more structured with 3rd order, less so with 4th order employees). In this sense a vertical developmental perspective is not only more targeted and effective, it honors a deep and important dimension of diversity in the workplace that has been largely ignored or addressed indirectly in an ad-hoc fashion.

Why is that important? Kegan has given a superb example of why and how levels or stages of consciousness are an important factor in any effective change and transformation in business. The existence of stages or levels of consciousness is, of course, one of the five major aspects addressed by the Integral method, and Kegan has clearly demonstrated why taking this variable into account is crucial in any effective transformation.

Let's give one last example, this time focusing on lines of development. An Integral model points out that there are not just levels of development—as outlined by Kegan—but that different human capacities (or "lines") develop through those levels. For example, there is cognitive development, emotional development, spiritual development, interpersonal development, and so on. A person can be highly developed in one line—such as the cognitive—and poorly developed in others—such as emotional intelligence, interpersonal skills, or group dynamics.

Thus, Paul might reach a 4th order level of consciousness in his thinking capacity, but only a 2nd order level of moral development. That is, he is very smart, but rather ruthless and unethical. Or perhaps somebody is well developed in the aesthetic or artistic line, but not well developed in the interpersonal line—the standard "bad boy artist," for example.

The idea of "levels and lines"—the notion that a person can be highly developed in some lines, medium in others, and poor in yet others—becomes crucially important, for example, when it comes to business leadership. Is the individual leader an "integral leader," well developed in many important lines? Or does he or she excel in one line (such as cognitive brilliance) and yet lag in others (such as interpersonal skills), so that the advances made in some areas are all but wiped out by the damage caused in others? An integral coach or trainer could help this person spot which areas need development in order to become an even more effective and successful leader.

Perhaps the foregoing examples are enough to suggest that an Integral Approach to leadership (in business, politics, ecology, education) would include a comprehensive perspective covering all the major bases. Are all the quadrants being included in the assessment and suggested interventions? Are all the developmental stages and levels being included? Are all the important developmental lines and capacities being engaged? (As well as all states and types of consciousness?)

Approaching any problem with a more comprehensive perspective can be expected to dramatically improve its chances of success, and such a comprehensive or "touch-all-the-bases" approach is central to the Integral ideal.

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