A definition of integral business

We are working under the assumption that the definition of an integral business is an integrally informed business.

But wouldn’t a better definition be: "an integral business that is inherently geared to participate in the integral development of all stakeholders involved?"

That adds an element of purpose that at the moment seems lacking, but that is in line with concepts like the bodhisattva vow, adding a key element of integration to it with the lower right quadrant.

What do you think?
So if we immagine integral economics, wouldn’t that be an entire economical system, inherently geared towards everyones integral development?

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A hopeful note: According to Spiral Dynamics as well as Ken Wilber, each stage level of development is roughly ten times more powerful in dealing with life than the previous stage can be. This is why, when about 10% of a population arrives at the “next” level, it become the leading edge of culture/society for that population.

This would imply that a truly integral business would have a huge edge over its competitors. If this is true (and I hope it is!), this in itself would goose its competitors to adapt, or “grow up,” to the new level.

Very best wishes for building integral businesses!

Now I’m asking myself what an integral economy would look like. Wheeeee…

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This is a wonderful insight and great business minded motivation to be more integral :slight_smile:

Just like the burgeois came out of trade corporations it may be interesting to build a trade corporation of integral businesses :slight_smile:

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Hey Damiano, I don’t seem to exactly understand what “integral business” is on your explanation, but considering the description in the book, “Integral Vision,” a question arises:

Are there REAL “integral business” corps existing in this world? If anyone knows one, please name it!

It would be more reasonable or easily adaptable in the non-profit organization, but I doubt if a profit company can run on the integral value. For example, all 4 quadrants’ values or theories in the “Integral Vision” are already adapted in any major or even SMB companies quite times ago, but its purpose is for “money” or profit, not for “spirit” or higher stages, IMO. If management judges that true integral business is more profitable, they would go for it, but I doubt what kind of product or service, or what kind of profit company mission would be like that at this moment.

Personally I am strongly interested in the IB, so anyone are welcomed to break my skepticism (, or low-tier value.)

Damiano, if my post diverge your topic, let me know - I’ll delete this.

I’ll recommend three books that are related to this subject.

The first, Reinventing Organizations: A Guide to Creating Organizations Inspired by the Next Stage in Human Consciousness by Frederic Laloux , is the de facto bible on Integral/Teal businesses. Highly recommended. It is a little long, so for a shorter introduction to the topic, check out Reinventing Organizations: An Illustrated Invitation to Join the Conversation on Next-Stage Organizations, which is essentially a “children’s book” version of the original. A few key aspects of Teal organizations are self-organizing/self-managing decentralized networks, work crossover, and purpose driven organizations.

The second is Robert Kegan’s brilliant An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization, which is my personal favorite. It explores organizations that create a culture of personal development, and explains in great detail the rituals, practices, and company values that make this possible. For example, certain companies have three week long “character bootcamps” to train new employees on how to deal with their “backhands” or character weaknesses, while providing a network of coaches, support, and peer feedback to help employees on their journey of development while in the organization. Absolutely brilliant stuff.

The third, since Karen mentioned what an Integral economics looks like, is MEMEnomics: The Next Generation Economic System by Said Elias Dawlabani. It provides an economic analysis through a spiral lens, and provides examples of economies/companies that are manifesting a more Integral consciousness. More is needed on Integral economics for sure, but this book is a start.

As one who is at home in the upper left quadrant, I will cheerfully leave the details to you lower right types, and thank you for your hard work and attention to this on behalf of us all.

ILP0000, you expressed doubt that a for-profit company can run on integral values. My response to that comes from my upper left quadrant perspective. I think that for-profit companies could thrive on integral values for at least two reasons. The first reason I expressed in my previous post here: according to Integral theory and Spiral Dynamics, each next emerging level is roughly an order of magnitude more powerful in dealing with life (reality, or whatever you want to call it) than the one prior to it.

My second reason is this. In my understanding of Second Tier, as we consolidate our conscious personalities here we become aware of how incredibly interconnected each one of us is with everything, at every level of our being: physical, biological, instinctual, emotional, rational, psychic, intuitive, spiritual, and on. We become far more aware of how we affect, and are affected by, each other. We thus have the capacity to see farther, with deeper insight into what actions and connections help us thrive, and what would prevent us from thriving. We can no longer remain ignorant of our profound interconnectedness. We are aware of how much we need our neighbors and our societies and our environment to thrive in order for us to thrive.

In business and economics, among other things I presume that this augmented level of insight would make it possible to make much more accurate and foresightful models and forecasts.

Without knowing much about details in this quadrant, I do confidently expect that a truly integral business would out-perform a competitor that is not (yet) integral. If nothing else, the “employees” (there will probably be a more integral concept and word for this) will be much happier, more fulfilled in their work and their lives, and thus perform at a higher level. Those who steer the company would create and work in a business/economic environment where most of the other agencies they are dealing with are actively cooperating to help this business thrive.

This is a massively complex subject but I will give it a shot as I have been immersing myself more and more in economics and politics lately to elucidate further on the concept of a more integrally capable economic system. I think that integral businesses or organization would definitely have a better ground and potentiality within something that could be understood as integral or developmental economics. Therefore imagining a more integral economy becomes crucial to further develop the concepts and dynamics of what could be a more fleshed description of a 2nd tier business/organization. As such integrally aware or informed businesses seems to be the best we can do right now to push the edge of economic thinking. I think this is partly why some of us make the assumption you mention Damiano (an integral business is an integrally informed business), as we are well aware that the culture, social institutions and legislation that would fully support integral organizations are not yet a reality and limits their potentiality.

Bearing in mind that our economic thinking is mainly derived from ideas and concept developed in the industrial era a few centuries ago and that it mainly revolves around macro and microeconomics ideas in its more mainstream versions, we have a lot of catch up to do in this field. Like most field, it has been influenced by orange (i.e. productivity, specialization) and green (i.e. marketing, mission statement) perspectives but with the same assumptions at its base that could be summed up as the following – the economy must grow for humans to grow within a private/public framework. This assumption makes sense within certain limits but it doesn’t scale well to what we have today. This is not surprising. As our economic and social dynamics become more complex, such an economic structure is less and less capable and effective at doing what it intends to achieve. As a side note, some will argue that the now global economy doesn’t have an adequate global governance institution to keep it in check and that is partly why corporations have become too powerful. I would agree and there is definitely more to be explored in these areas.

Adding to the complexity, it becomes rather difficult to discern how the interior and exterior dimensions might be influencing our economic thinking and furthermore how it might affect human development itself. Whether we are aware of it or not, how the economy function permeates almost everything that is unfolding in our societies. It’s not hard to imagine how we could have developed immense blind spots in this area as a society. Nevertheless, looking at the economy as a model designed to facilitate exchanges and allocate resources, we can see how different parts of the spectrum of consciousness manifest their healthy and unhealthy sides within that model. In that line of thinking, global finance and corporations could be somewhat stuck with having an obsession with hoarding and being someone delusional regarding risk-taking, This might contradict the belief of an “abundance mentality” and one might ask if that is a projection of itself. Again, how this stems from human behavior or the structure itself becomes harder to discern.

With these few distinctions in mind, I think that a more integral economic system would be geared towards enabling and supporting the development of individuals and groups at any stage in their journey and would tend to better integrate types among other things. How it could be made a possibility remains to be unfolded. From here, I think that integrally aware organizations would definitely benefit all from cooperating in their development. Perhaps a more evolved economic infrastructure such as intelligent currency and governance structure such as sociocracy and holocracy could be better suited for such an endeavor as they would instill more dept in their governance and transactional infrastructure. Furthermore, something like an alliance of integrally aware organizations could help in gaining traction and direct more investment in their capacities. Some of it might be seen as fundamental research that might not be “profitable” in the current form of thinking but more practical applications could eventually spur out of it. One strategy could be to develop and find more integral and practical applications that could enhance the whole dynamic. As a side note, I think this is what Integral Life is somewhat aiming for but the niche is quite small at the moment. Education and personal development are the main areas of focus at this point. In time, with enough scale and participants, a small “integral economy” would start emerging and become useful as a model for experimenting and eventually influence the dynamics of the mainstream economic system we have nowadays. We still struggle to develop economic and business models that are sustainable so we have a long way to go but I definitely think that an integral perspective will greatly help. As ksv mention, a tenfold increase in power at that level is desperately needed.

Ryan, I will have a look at the books you mention. I’m definitely eager to explore further on these ideas and concept from an integral viewpoint.

@HawaiianRyan Thanks for your info! I already ordered the books, and “Reinventing Organizations” especially triggers my interest.

@ksv Thanks for your comments - I, myself, may need to develop my stage further, most of all.

I looked through the posts in this community, and found a similar topic I tried to explain as a question:

For-profit companies should be profitable to sustain, which means it cannot stand alone, and competitors are inevitable. If it is an individual, we can use “We space” on I and other-I for better “relationship.” But the companies in business are not in relationship, but in “competition.” In the above topic, even a non-profit organization such as Chamber of Commerce, would regress down to 1 or 2 stages even though their mission would be some sort of “right” or “benefit”, and even though it lose them, the organization will be maintained anyhow. But if a for-profit company lose “profit” from competition, it will not be maintained, but simply gone down, especially for SMB. So as far as I have experienced and seen, most companies at Orange or Green overall in their “Internal Environment,” regardless of their size, regresses down to the maximum degree, depending on “External Environment” such as the degree of competition, the stages of competitors and the volume of profit, and are ready to regress down to win the competition. Moreover, as the competition gets more fierce in long-term, the lower-stage spreads along the value chain and all the quadrants, which results in permanent stage downgrade in the company. My question or doubt grew from there - whether a company at Teal for all quadrants can have a different business strategy maintaining both profit and the stage, which would be real integral business, IMO. I am looking forward to receiving the book soon, and if anyone knows the sustainable IB kind of companies, or cases in HBR, please share here; case-study would be great helpful to understand.


I also forget to mention the website https://www.enliveningedge.org which is a goldmine of Integrally related resources, inspired by Reinventing ORGs. Also, here is an example of an explicitly Integral business: https://stagelens.com

Other “Integralish” type books on this subject are the The Opposable Mind: How Successful Leaders Win Through Integrative Thinking by Roger L. Martin and Creating Great Choices: A Leader’s Guide to Integrative Thinking by Martin and Jennifer Riel. Just finished them – highly recommended!


Thank you for this discussion. Perhaps you would be interested in looking at and signing the Conscious Business Declaration - http://www.consciousbusinessdeclaration.org/ which Ken Wilber has contributed to. You might also be interested in having a look at Humanity’s Team Conscious Business Innerprise course, Conscious Business Change Agent - https://www.cbinnerprise.com/. I have recently completed this course with a group of cohorts and we work together to bring conscious practice, particularly presencing, into business. Whether an organisation can maintain its profitability and its stage relies very much on the work the individuals within the organisation do to develop their own integral practice. Supporting staff to be able to do this is essential - and deliberately developmental organisations, as referred to above, make a virtue out of this.