MindShift

TRANSFORMATION – INSIGHT – LEADERSHIP


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Integral Without Borders

Community of Practice ConCall

Working with Resistance in International Development –  A Concall with Ken Wilber, Anne Caspari and Integral Without Borders

Our third Integral Without Borders Community Call was on December 7th 2013. As you may know, our intention with these IWB sangha calls is to co-create the kind of ‘integral community’ we want, one that is deep and wise in its content, supportive in its interpersonal connections, and world-centric (even kosmo-centric!) in it’s moral embrace. Each call will focus on an aspect of integral practice in development with certain practitioners leading on these topics and with participants contributing examples from their integral projects.

The topic of this call was diving deeper into  “Working with Resistance in International Development.”  The call was facilitated by Gail Hochachka of Integral Without Borders. Ken Wilber and Anne Caspari discussed the deeper and finer issues  of Theory U and transformative processes, that Anne had mapped out in her earlier work (Diagrams – working with resistance). We discussed the different phenomena of restistance and adaptive pushback that are usually surfacing as recognizable patterns in these processes and their relationship to stages of development, states of consciousness and the shadow. Then we went also to explore the difference between individual and group processes,  a research on collective insighting with Bonnitta Roy and the Alderlore Insight Center, that Anne is also involved in.  Since all of the participants, including Ken was really interested in this research at this ‘fresh edge of discovery’, we will keep you posted on the outcomes of that.

Listen to the recording of the call here (a donation to IWB would be appreciated)

 

U diagram 1


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Shifting Personal Reality

Shifting Personal Reality

The ability to shift personal reality in one’s self and the competency to assist others with their transformation is one of the basic skills for integral mentoring of any kind. This can apply to individual work with leaders, ‘trim tabs’ and change agents, or to collective work with stakeholder groups, organizations  or NGOs. The kind of assistance needed depends on many different factors, such as the unique action logic or kosmic address of everybody involved  (see previous post) and, of course, on the nature of the task ahead.

Yet despite the abundant variables, transformational change follows a very recognizable blueprint that, much like a wave, keeps its pattern integrity. We encounter this archetypal pattern everywhere, a cultural software of the human species. Its epic version is masterfully described in Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey.

The more post-modern version is Scharmer’s U Process for collective transformation and prototyping. The smaller day to day or moment to moment encounter with transformation, like changing a destructive habit, overcoming fear or shadow work either go unobserved or are subject to a myriad of self-help books.

Whatever the scale is, the archetypal movement remains that of a dive into interiority, the ‘small death (or micro-dis-identification) and the resurfacing with a different perspective. This process can take minutes, days, months, or a lifetime, and is iterative. A typical transformational process needs basic prerequisites in order to succeed. External factors include a safe space, a method/injunction to follow, a coach or mentor, or rules.

Interior conditions (interior to the person) include a willingness to re-own previously resisted or dis-associated shadow parts. It may also require the capacity to access, if just for a very short period of time, different states of consciousness. Scharmer (2009) describes the respective stations “open mind”, “open heart” and “open will”, indicating the willingness to suspend judgement, becoming vulnerable and authentic, and most of all, present. He describes this movement down the U as going from gross to subtle, and the combination of sensing and being present -“precensing”- at the bottom at the U as causal. 

In reality, the access to these different states of consciousness is not that clear cut and often fuzzy.

The process of accessing subtle or even causal states can follow various patterns, primarily cycling between the work of shadow parts and resistances being integrated and sensations of relief along the descending arm of the U. The quality of that access and subsequently of the depth, width and nature of transformation depends on many factors, such as the altitude, meaning making system and personal integrity of the person(s) undergoing the process and on the effectiveness of the tools and methods applied.

The following diagram uses the U shape to map out some of the typical stages of a transformative process, along with the internal and external conditions that would foster a deep and successful shift in personal reality, individual or collective. In the next paper, the lateral movements and escape mechanisms that occur along the different stations will be discussed, along with the tools that could successfully counterbalance them.

“We’ve come to believe that the core capacity needed for accessing the field of the future is presence. We first thought of presence as being fully conscious and aware in the present moment. Then we began to appreciate presence as deep listening, of being open beyond one’s preconceptions and historical ways of making sense. We came to see the importance of letting go of old identities and the need to control and, as Salk said, making choices to serve the evolution of life. Ultimately, we came to see all these aspects of presence as leading to a state of “letting come,”of consciously participating in a larger field for change. When this happens, the field shifts, and the forces shaping a situation can shift from re-creating the past to manifesting or realizing an emerging future.” Peter Senge.U process Caspari

Download this paper here: TransformationShift [Paper039]


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Mapping Transformative Processes with AQAL and Theory U

Mapping Transformation

In international development we see it more and more the need for leaders to play a new game. It is ironic that our best whole systems thinkers are becoming ever more frustrated at the lack of visible change in response to knowledge and evidence about growing threats to sustainability. The problem is, that while many experts and change agents are getting frustrated ‘with banging their heads against the same old walls’ in the exterior quadrants (UR & LR), the dynamics and mechanisms of how to go about genuine transformation are still not widely understood.

Transformations that respond to adaptive challenges involve a fundamental shift in perspective and ‘meaning making’, that is a process that deconstructs the current ‘meaning making’ system thus, enabling a shift to a different level of consciousness. Only then is it possible to perceive, find or create new answers that contribute to a new ‘reality’. To identify such critical leverage points, leaders need to recognize the interdependency between their inner and their outer world. In other words, it is the natural reflexive dynamics between interior and exterior realities that enable one to successfully create changes, whether individually and collectively.

Transformation – as opposed to incremental change – requires a true shift in the structure of consciousness one operates from. The general ‘architecture of transformation’ connects the movement through the U (Scharmer[1]) with AQAL in what could be described as a multi-faceted and pluri-dimensional shift:

a)      An individual process of dis-identification with a behaviour (UR) to its “source code”  “UL” (for example  recognizing a behavioural pattern and going “inside” to identify and owning a shadow, releasing it and changing behaviour)

b)      A shift from the UR gross state (observable behaviour pattern) to accessing subtle or even causal states in the upper left and back to UR on a different level of perception (Scharmer’s U-Process).

c)      Dis-Identifications happening on sliding scale from micro  ‘aha’ moments to bigger, life changing experiences, to shifting perspectives on perspectives on a meta-level (from ‘looking through’ to ‘looking at’ – R Kegan).  This can eventually lead to a vertical transformation towards more complex levels/later stage action logics.

d)       Once these shifts are re-iterated, consistently practiced, in a collective with a shared vision, scaled and imbued with power, collective transformation becomes possible and whole systems can indeed be shifted. (The fuzziness and pitfalls to this process will be described a future discussion paper.)

An Integral ‘U’ Process

Scharmer describes this “U shaped” movement from the recognition and subsequent deconstruction of current perceived realities, the little death at the ‘bottom of the U’ when going from knowing to not knowing towards the new territory of prototyping of new realities beautifully.

Scharmer does not explicitly take into account developmental aspects in his processes and tools.  U-Processes should be conceived and managed in accordance to the action logic of the people the program addresses.

Otherwise it will prove counterproductive, triggering stage related resistances (e.g. blue allergies to green ‘co-over-sharing’, reds refusal to go internal reflective).  Also, people leading such processes should have a decade or two of real ‘walk the talk’ hands-on experience with transformation.

In many countries we work in, individual resistances and collective shadows that show up during transformative processes are generally a matter of life and death and will be touched or triggered (Syria, South Africa, Egypt, Indonesia etc.). Or as Bill O’Brien notes, “the success of an intervention depends on the interior condition of the intervener”.

“We move from part to whole and back again, and in that dance of comprehension, in that amazing circle of understanding, we come alive to meaning, to value, and to vision: the very circle of understanding guides our way, weaving together the pieces, healing the fractures, mending the torn and tortured fragments, lighting the way ahead — this extraordinary movement from part to whole and back again, with healing the hallmark of each and every step, and grace the tender reward.”   Ken Wilber.

download this paper here: U and Development-[Pap


[1] (Scharmer 2005; Scharmer, Senge et al. 2001)

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