Attended a group discussion call today with ~20 folks in the Adult Development community - coaches, a few academics, and a few amateurs like me. One topic was really relevant for me: "In service of finding a way to help the world deal with intractable issues, how might we teach or enable this in a way that doesn’t necessarily include making an order of consciousness leap?" and in this context "order of consciousness" would map to something like a Kegan stage and "this" would be the principles of AD like awareness of the stages, the Subject-to-Object move, and personal development towards being able to hold more complexity and meet more complex challenges.
I mentioned some of the difficulties of applying AD in discovering a better way, and I heard some good evidence and orientation today from this community that's useful for dismantling the "vertical"-ness of looking at developmental stages: the research so far says "Neither ego development nor cognitive complexity appears to predict subjective well-being, social adjustment, motivation, expertise, or behavior (and may or may not be correlated with mental health and coping)."
I almost want to argue against that, due to the life-changing experiences that I've had in hitting the limits of my awareness, failing, seeking, and expanding my awareness in order to understand more, resulting in me being both more effective in my efforts and more joyous in my being. We could look at that particular list of measurements and say the science just hasn't caught up yet. Yeah, it's not about "happiness", or motivation... and there is decent research mapping developmental complexity to leadership effectiveness.
But the tension between those two hypotheses fits, IMHO, back into the "pull, versus push" model of holding the value of expanded awareness: that it's there when we really need it, that we can't really push it on ourselves (let alone others) for its own sake, and it mostly depends on the pull of the challenge.
I remain convinced that "expanded awareness" (my attempted phrase of the day) is crucial for human cooperation and large-scale effectiveness. Can we do it without pushing people on a "vertical" development ladder? First, there were several comments (which I agree with) that the whole vertical-v-horizontal framing is problematic, and probably expert/achiever-based framing. Then, the group today also sounded in broad consensus that this phenomenon of holding complexity doesn't require people to "be" a "post-conventional stage" in the Kegan sense, or at least in the way that 98% of people interpret people as being "in" stages.
No, there exist practices and cultures (in line with the documentation of "An Everyone Culture" and "Reinventing Organizations") that can scaffold and make space for meeting complex challenges from a variety of base/stage orders-of-consciousness... because perspective is a moment-by-moment process, because people think together and affect each other, because culture eats strategy for breakfast.
An organization can center itself in, and act from, post-conventional thought - indeed, I doubt any revolutionary org has been entirely made up of developmental gurus. But it has been amply demonstrated that they're hard to hold on to, that it takes lots of work and intentionality as well as a firmly established container. They typically rely on (and require) highly complex leaders that set the specific practices.
Searching... is the (pardon the expression) "triple loop" a stability-enabler? By that I mean, putting the double-loop-learning process inside of the examination of regular awareness. Or do these Teal/DDO orgs still just miss double-loop in the first place, just having centered on a different base set of practices?
Oh... I'm going to characterize that as Teal in my head for a moment - that when Laloux sets out those three tenets they become, right there, more an extension of (Spiral Dynamics) Green than truly crossing over to Yellow. By that I mean that Teal is more first-order because it's just another vmeme that looks down on Green, rather than the elusive second-order deliberate object inclusion across the vmemes.
My double/triple-loop thought is trying to be a concrete instantiation of the SD-second-order abstraction - transcending and including the practices that make up organizational culture. So, to come back to "practices that work with a diversity of development" - can we declare practices that are meta-practices? They're still just practices, after all. But can people hold multiple value sets competently without in some way having crossed the self-transforming threshold? I think that's unknown, at least to me.
An org could set practices that determine its default awareness level, as well as practices for detecting when to change practices. But I am suspicious that that misses the mark of integration. An alternative would be to set awareness practices for challenges (or responsibilities), and bank on the awareness being able to include the strengths of different modes of operation in response to different challenges.
How could people develop fluency in awareness levels that they don't inhabit enough to grok? Can people buy the model enough to sense their edge and when they're beyond it? Oh, or maybe that's the function of structural support? Urg, break-is-breaking it's-late time. Publishing, to be continued....