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Spiral Dynamics: Mastering Values, Leadership and Change (Blackwell Textbooks in Linguistics)

60 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1557869401
ISBN-10: 1557869405
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Spiral Dynamics reveals the hidden codes that shape human nature, create global diversities, and drive evolutionary change. These magnetic forces attract and repel individuals, form the webs that connect people within organizations, and forge the rise and fall of nations and cultures. This book tracks our historic emergence from clans to tribes to networks and holograms; identifies seven Variations on Change, and adds power and precision to the design of human systems and 21st century leadership.

Spiral Dynamics is an extension and elaboration of the biopsychosocial systems concept of the late Clare W. Graves; work that Canada's Maclean's Magazine called 'The Theory that Explains Everything'. The authors mesh UK biologist Richard Dawkins' concept of 'memes' with Gravesian 'value systems' in crafting a timely transformational change formula and process. Their concept of MEMES represents the first major statement of the new 'Science of Memetics.'

Don Edward Beck and Christopher C. Cowan, who were closely associated with Clare W. Graves, apply the principles of Spiral Dynamics worldwide in both corporate and top-level governmental sectors. They helped transform South Africa out of race categories, design organizational and marketing systems for a wide range of industries, and revitalize local communities, educational and professional institutions, and sports programs. Based on motivational MEMEs, they also designed a "hearts and minds" strategy for the South African rugby union team, winners of the 1995 World Cup.

Beck and Cowan were on the faculty of the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas, for a number of years before forming the National Values Center.

About the Author

Don Beck is Co-founder of The National Values Center, Denton, Texas. He taught at the University of North Texas; played a major role in the South African transformation; and applies and enhances Gravesian/Spiral Dynamics concepts in corporate, educational, and geopolitical initiatives worldwide. He is active with Ken Wilber in the Integral movement.

Chris Cowan is Co-founder of The National Values Center and is based in Santa Barbara, California. He is partner in NVC Consulting which seek to continue and build on the legacy of Dr Clare W. Graves through research, application, and publications.


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Product Details

  • Series: Blackwell Textbooks in Linguistics
  • Hardcover: 331 pages
  • Publisher: Blackwell Publishing (May 8, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1557869405
  • ISBN-13: 978-1557869401
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #374,628 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

133 of 139 people found the following review helpful By Alex Burns on July 29, 2000
Format: Hardcover
A brief note regarding comments made by the previous reviewer:
When Blackwell Business Publishers published Spiral Dynamics, they did not include an index developed by Don Beck and Chris Cowan (mistakes like this do happen sometimes with academic publishers). Interested readers can contact the authors directly at ... for further details and updated research. Any initial "X-Files" feeling is dispelled once you become more familiar with the model, and the milieu that it evolved from.
Spiral Dynamics draws extensively upon over 40 years of research by Beck, Cowan, and their mentor Clare W. Graves. The original research data includes over 500,000 interviews conducted over five continents, and is comparable to other "biopsychosocial systems development" research conducted by Jane Loevinger, Stanley Milgram, Laurence Kohlberg, Erik Erikson etc.
What makes Graves unique however is that he created a dynamic model of human consciousness evolution which can assimilate other models and worldviews. He also recognised that insights from Cognitive Psychology, Genetics, and Neurophysiology would need to be examined. Fans of NeuroLinguistic Programming, General Systems Theory, Memetics and the Human Potential Movement will find a wealth of material, plus reading resources for further specialised research.
SD has been applied to resolve racial tension in South Africa, in education systems and government, by the World Future Society State of the World Forum, Arlington Institute, and Integral Institute, and by major companies such as Nedbank and SouthWest Airlines. Anyone questioning its credentials simply haven't done their research.
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47 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Richard G. Petty on May 31, 2006
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The speed of personal and societal change can seem bewildering, and there have been many attempts to try and make sense of what is going on in the world.

Spiral Dynamics is one very interesting model that was originally developed by the psychologist Clare W. Graves. He was a friend and colleague of Abraham Maslow, who had developed the well-known Hierarchy of Needs, ascending from basic biological needs to the more complex psychological motivations - belongingness, esteem, cognitive, esthetic and self-actualizing - once the basic needs have been satisfied. In Maslow's scheme, the needs at each level need to be at least partially satisfied before the needs of the next level start to determine action. But Graves' research lead him to believe that there were levels beyond self-actualization, and that different people achieved different kinds of development at different times in their lives. Over the last 30 years, Spiral Dynamics has been developing in a number of new directions. Ken Wilber has been working with Don Beck and has incorporated many of the ideas into his Integral Psychology, and I have recently shown how some of the ideas are immensely helpful in the field of health and wellness.

One of the important concepts of Spiral Dynamics is the meme. The word meme was first introduced by the Oxford University biologist Richard Dawkins, who used the word to mean things that are transmitted or broadcast through culture. Good examples would be songs, ideas or fashions in clothes, which are quickly disseminated through a culture, rather like a virus spreads around a population. These are now called "little memes." Spiral Dynamics takes a broader view.
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126 of 143 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 20, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book is based on the work of Clare W. Graves, a professor of psychology at the Union College (Schenectady, NY) who developed an evolutionary model of values somewhere in the 60ties. I was introduced to this material through the work of Wyatt Woodsmall, who wrote a more accessible introduction to this material as part of the book "Time Line Therapy and the Basis of personality" (published in 1988). If you are interested in studying values and cultures, I recommend buying both books.
The two reasons why this book only gets 3 stars are 1) the way it is written and 2) because the authors have written it "as if" they are the *sole* owners of this theory, a kind of thinking that shows they haven't reached the highest level of evolution themselves. The second remark may explain why one cannot distinguish between the original thinking of GRAVES and the extensions of the authors. The first remark explains why this book is hard to "digest": the structure of the book doesn't make it easy to collect all information for each level, nor is it easy to derive from the book how one would apply these principles, say in a therapeutic or business context. Also an index is missing, but that is partly compensated by adding a good resource list at the end of the book.
Graves' model is a dynamic model of human consciousness evolution, which includes 7 levels of development, each with particular kinds of thinking and beliefs. At jobEQ we recommend this kind of thinking to find out whether someone you want to hire is "compatible" with your companies culture. Beck and Cowan have been using Graves work on an even larger level: looking at values that are valid across cultures and subcultures in society, for instance helping to resolve conflicts between subcultures in the UK and South-Africa.
Patrick E.C. Merlevede -- co-author of "7 Steps to Emotional Intelligence"
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