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Spiral Dynamics: Mastering Values, Leadership and Change Paperback – August 5, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-1405133562 ISBN-10: 1405133562 Edition: Reprint
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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

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; Reprint edition (August 5, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1405133562
  • ISBN-13: 978-1405133562
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #57,180 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

130 of 136 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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158 of 169 people found the following review helpful By David O'Gorman, Sr. (ogorman@uis.edu) on April 19, 1999
Format: Hardcover
The flaws in this book should not obscure the fact that this may be one of the most important books on human behavior of the millennium-probably even more important than even the authors realize. For this is the first book to link two of the most important concepts in human behavior of our time-the theories of psychologist Clare Graves and the concept of memes.
(I have been working with Graves' theories for about 25 years, and had the pleasure to collaborate with him on a consulting project in 1976. Regarding memes, I have been teaching about them for about 5 years.)
Graves integrated "bio-psycho-and socio-" in a way that resulted in the identification of clearly distinct levels of existence, with each level having its own psychological and behavioral characteristics. This was a remarkable revolutionary achievement, especially in light of the subsequent work of others that corroborate the characteristics of each level. Beck and Cowan have conveniently provided excellent references for each level.
A second revolutionary idea comes from the 1973 work of Richard Dawkins, who while discussing the need that genes have to replicate themselves ("The Selfish Gene"), also posited the existence of another replicator, a unit of cultural transmission, which he dubbed a "meme" after the French word for imitation. After lying dormant for many years (except at Microsoft-see Richard Brodie's "Virus of the Mind") the concept of memes has arrived. And although I have been teaching about memes for five years, even I have underestimated their importance until recently, thanks to Susan Blackmore's book "The Meme Machine.
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46 of 46 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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