The Conversation: What the Integral Movement Needs Next

Welcome to The Conversation! Integral Life will periodically bring you interesting insights, comments and perspectives going on in our world on social media.

From Integral Life CEO Robb Smith’s Twitter feed comes this thread on the nature and maturity of the integral movement itself today, and how the next phase of its growth will require a new kind of learning and action coordination amongst the increasing diversity of its organizational participants.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!

I have a hard time understanding most of this. Anyone able to provide a summary/translation to more plain language? Thanks


I didn’t understand these comments very well either. Robb or Corey could you give some specific examples to help me understand what you are sharing here? - Eric

My take on this is thus: up to and including Green, there are well established methods for cohering together, working out what on earth we are talking about, and once we have a handle on what we are talking about, there are established ways of disseminating that knowledge and bringing intro everyday life.
Once we get to Teal, we no longer have those certainties. So we need to start on creating ones that work in Teal. The challenge then is living in Teal and disseminating that reality into Green as a ladder that Green can use to access Teal. At the moment Teal seems to be a set of individuals doing their thing, rather than it being an established worldview that inheres in society.
The challenge is that if Teal is self aware as such, how can it use that awareness to accelerate the evolution of society into Teal?
BTW if, after 20 years, we have failed to help Afghanistan evolve from Tribal, should we be even looking at developing Teal yet? Are there other more basic areas we should be looking at?


Organizationally, I think we need structures that support the people in roles of the organization to ‘transcend and include’, use Tier 2 type rules of communication and that supports and rewards personal growth. Two models come to mind…

  1. Holacracy by Brian Robertson. Here is a link to Jeff Saltmans update interview with him.

The holacracy group has actually developed supporting software, and a corresponding set of bylaws based on their methodology.

  1. Robert Kegan’s book: An everyone culture : Becoming a deliberately developmental organization - Robert Kegan and a few others. This is a book with 2 major case studies that outlines how the personal growth of the employees is considered a valuable company asset where individuals are encouraged to learn from their mistakes… the notion that we need mistakes in order to grow. The corporate case studies show that these organizations embody the working principles of growth into their policies.

Both models are certainly not for everyone and i imagine especially at Tier 1 but the rewards may make it an entry point for companies that are ready.

While i have never participated in a company using either model full out, I did use many of the Holacracy principles in my leadership role with volunteers at a trade association. It was a gratifying experience where volunteers listened more, participated more, and took on more responsibility for the success of the organization. At least 80% of their membership website is now managed by volunteer teams.

Wish i knew about these types of organizational policies 30+ years ago! :slight_smile:

Great topic - Thanks Rob

Carolyn Winter

PS - here is a summary of operating principles for the Deliberately Developmental organization. I see a lot of them in the Holacracy model as well. ROBB - is this the type of organization you are talking about in your tweets? - thanks CW

. Organizations Running on (Shared) Principles
. Adults Can Grow
. Weakness Is a Strength; Error Is an Opportunity
. The Bottom Line is Interdependent
. “Process Integrity” Trumps “Outcome Achievement” in the Definition of Success
. In a DDO (Deliberately Developmental Organization), the goals of profitability and fostering development are part of a single whole.
. Destabilization Can Be Constructive
. there is no penalty for participating honestly and openly, only for failing to participate authentically.**** (IMAGINE THAT!!!)
. Timescale for Growth, Not Closure
. “Interior Life” Is Part of What Is Managed
. Rank Does Not Have Its Usual Privileges
. Everyone is HR
. Everyone Needs a Crew
. Everyone Builds the Culture
. DDOs recognize that leadership’s tendency to use its power to design and sustain structures that protect itself from challenge sets a limit on the organization’s ability to exceed itself
. The DDO Whole Is More Than the Sum of Its Parts

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Re: Afghanistan, I agree with you. It seems to me establishing a coherent Tribal level of society was totally missing and the world only knows about the non coherent side of things. Meet people where they are today, valuing and respecting that, may go father to create stability and growth. Maybe this is naive but simple things like their food, culture, fashion, - what do we know about that in the west and value? What are their customs and way of life when not at war? Perhaps these notions were too far apart from the cultures other countries to appreciate.


Perhaps I’m just too old and too cynical but I think it’s going to take this new generation to get any real inroads into Teal companies. My son gets it - he finds it difficult to understand how a company could/ would want to work differently. But he is still at Uni and hasn’t been buffeted by 1st tier employment yet. My peers just don’t get it, but I work in a law firm and the workforce is solidly Blue/Orange.

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Gratitude for what has enabled development of Integral.
Gratitude for all of the Integral development going on that has no connection with the Integral community.

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True - if the organization’s owners/top brass don’t buy into a teal set of principles to operate a company any inroads by lower hierarchies of staff will not go far. I do hold out a great deal of optimism and hope for your son’s generation. They are far more collaborative and worldly and i think movtivated to be at teal if only to negotiate being on a world stage in their career endeavors.


What the Integral Movement needs is more spokesmen like Jeff Salzman. Spokesmen who can articulate a purpose for Integral Theory, without the self-referential jargon. CTOs - Chief Teleology Officers - not CEOs.


Thanks Andrew! One point about Afghanistan is that if the people making US policies on Afghanistan were at teal, they would have appreciated the need for healthy expressions of the first tier levels. It would be cool if an organization founded around Integral Theory was able to get enough power to try some projects that would work on helping people at archaic - mythic levels grow, but in the meantime, helping people in power evolve from green + orange to teal I think would be a big help to the archaic - mythic levels.

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Also to Robb’s point about this being a software problem - why is that? Any ideas on what that software might look like? Thanks

Having read Robb’s tweets several times, my overall reaction was similar to moss, Eric and Chuck (in the thread) - I need more understanding for what Robb is trying to say. Feels like there are many tips of icebergs that are being touched on in the thread and these need to be unpacked more to allow better interpretations of what Robb is trying to communicate. Without this, I feel providing a response would be like swinging the bat without knowing where the ball is. Curious to understand more…

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Carolyn, I liked your summary of DDO principles and the ones that stood out for you. I’ve been working with an organisation for around 3 years putting many of these principles into place, having first led the leadership team on a study program of Keagan’s book (as well as Laloux’s Reinventing Organisations). Its still very much a WIP (Covid throwing up many challenges with working from home) but glad to report some great progress has thus far been made :slight_smile:

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That is wonderful… it must be a fulfilling experience to work with those organizational principles.

I suggested that the main problem w the Teal org community today is inadequate knowledge transparency & coordination of interventions mechanism. This is a software problem, and is at the heart of what I’d like to solve.
Instructive to compare to the speed, focus & resource galvanization of something like blockchain, which had high task cohesion, immense economic incentives, & most importantly a fairly simple & rigid context (syntax).

One of the interesting uses for blockchain is as a platform for bootstrapping emerging federated systems protocols. If blockchain is completely distributed and internet giants are completely centralized then federated systems are the middle ground with semi-permeable membrains moderated by individuals/groups or even blockchain contracts which can enforce checks and balances. Federated systems are centralized/moderated servers that also replicate data with other centralized/moderated servers if the replication is mutually agreed upon. Federated servers can feed off each others network effect(incentive structure), thrive in adverserial environments through redundancy, but also provide editorial/framing power over the content. The most familiar example of federated systems is email. The most relevant historical example is usenet. The most relevant modern examples are Mastadon and Peertube. I’ve been giving alot of thought on how to seed and sustain phase 1 teal federated networks and have narrowed down on a few strategies. If anyone has ideas I’m all ears.

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I think a Teal Org needs to “subsume and include” the model of a Developmental Organization, but I don’t think they are equivalent.
I think a lot of times organizations organized around these principles might not “subsume and include” the other tiers. Survival and profitability, competition, rules, regulations, hierarchy and activism all might have a place.
Some industries absolutely have to take on the “Deliberately Developmental”, “Learning Organization” etc in order to attract key talent and innovate, but there are many industries and missions that Teal needs to accomplish where it’s a recipe for disaster.
An example comes to mid of Charities or other Nonprofits that own interest in profit oriented ventures to add consistent revenue streams. They might also have political activism or high legal risk separate subsidiaries.
An unhealthy model comes to mind of Trump Family’s company, which has a specific mission and culture, but that entity owns, buys and sells other entities with completely different missions and company cultures that support the family limited business.
The question being - does a Teal Org have to be Teal from bottom to top? Or can it have a purely Orange or even Amber subsidiary? I don’t think anyone is wanting to go so far as creating a BlackWater subsidiary, lol.

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I wonder at what point Integral people will want to live in a neighborhood with other Integral people, or if that’s counter-Integral.
On several levels, a geographical “community” makes a lot of sense, as long as it doesn’t isolate itself.
1st of all, the real estate development industry is one of the biggest profit margins I can think of. You take almost worthless land for hundreds of dollars per acre and convert it to property worth hundreds of dollars per foot.
2nd Such a geographical location with a concentration of IT practitioners would be able to elect leaders with an Integral mindset and pass ordinances that support Integral models.
3rd It could create itself as an economic hub for an Integral economy
There would be many other benefits.

Here is an example I came across of a group focused on the “waking up” side. I don’t see it as an “Integral” community, but more of an “awakened” community. But it’s interesting to imagine the idea if this concept was adopted by the Integral Community.

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I’m interested in the answer to the question about how is this a software question, too.

I also think that one of the main problems right now is that there are few opportunities for interaction. One thought might be to host a quarterly Zoom call on a topic that might be interesting to the whole membership (e.g. where is integral now? who is doing what? what connections might we form?) to combat some of the fragmentation into individual Integral silos. Possibly also a brief speaker each time (Terry, Diane, Jeff, Robb, Corey, etc.) but basically more of a Bohmian dialogue framework to encourage broad participation. Seeing each others’ faces helps I think. The IEC offered some of that, but it’s only once a year and not always a lot of opportunity for audience input.

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