Why Green is not just a minor transition phase between Orange and Yellow/Teal*
I hear some folks interested in Teal organizations who are suggesting the view that Green is not a true stage of development but merely a transition phase. That view wouldn't be tenable after reading the original Spiral Dynamics book, in my opinion, but short of such a reading, here's my own attempt to respond, out of my own distress.
I've been distressed hearing that view because I feel it is dangerous: it will cause failure and suffering for those who attempt to live by it.** I'd like to try to articulate why I feel that way. I haven't the bandwidth now to go hunting for examples, but they are visible in the pages of Enlivening Edge Magazine. Perhaps you, a reader, can make a comment below with one.
Green is not only a full stage, it is the necessary foundation of the Teal stage. Green is the capstone of the First Tier, and the only basis from which one can move fully and healthily into Second Tier's first stage, which is Yellow/Teal. It is the only healthy springboard into Second-Tier consciousness.
I think to view Green as a mere phase is to not fully "get" the huge difference between 1st and 2nd Tier, and the role of Green in making that difference possible. Green is where the heart comes online in human development, put most simply. It is a radical expansion of the capability of a wide circle of concern. It is, we could say, a huge move in widening individual ego's scope of concern, awareness, and care.
Without that foundation, one cannot truly move into the scope of care and concern and awareness required for the leap into Teal/Second Tier, which involves building on that concern with wider systems-awareness, but with a quantum leap beyond any previous stage leap.
That's why Graves called it a Tier leap, not a stage development, between Green and Teal. Green still has the right-wrong, either-or mentality, despite how inclusive its values are. Green is, for example, very intolerant of intolerance. Teal and 2nd Tier is where inconsistencies like that disappear, for the first time in human development. Teal is the first FULL universality of care and concern. Because others are fully real in their wholeness, Teal develops a "both-and" synergistic approach to life.
But without the move from relatively narrow Orange, and the maturation through the learning, mastery, embodiment of that universality via all the Green heart-felt, empathy-growing, emotionally-maturing, group-functioning-learning practices and experiences, healthy Teal cannot develop.
Orange itself broadens the scope of care and concern compared to Blue; it is Orange that first preaches and implements universal rights, for example. But there are still limits and inconsistencies. It is Green, not Teal, which irons out most of those inconsistencies. (See below about logic versus empathy as the basis of care.)
A move directly from Orange to Teal without a full healthy maturation through the Green stage would produce heartless systems-thinkers who only superficially care about "the whole." To such a person, people would be still cogs in a machine; there would not be the empathy that having all the time and experiences of Green consciousness brings online. There would not be the genuine ability to accept, and design for using, all the gifts of all the previous stages, which is a marker of Second-Tier consciousness.
Green is still in either-or thinking about the previous stages, and looks down on them, but it is the only place from which one can step into the true ability to think in both-and terms, which is another hallmark of Second Tier.
Attempts to "act Teal" and even partial Teal consciousness are going to bog down and cause problems, without sufficient maturation through Green. My recent blogpost about the 16 group shadows of Teal groups I've observed, gives examples.
Of COURSE bits of Teal consciousness show up earlier. That's the way maturation goes. We are all "mosaics" of the stages. But without sufficient maturation in that capstone Green consciousness, attempts to embody Teal are going to fall flat eventually, and cause suffering. A ten-year-old can wear high heels, but that doesn't enable her to be a teenager or adult. She's gonna fall flat.
Why I think that view about Green as a mere phase arises: A lot of folks in Orange organizations are personally Green. They are the ones who feel the urge to develop into Teal. But their own maturation into Green is invisible to them; no one has pointed it out. So they take it for granted, and minimize its importance when they hear about Teal and resonate strongly.
I believe I know many of those folks, and I believe that's the reason they're not, in my opinion, realizing the importance of Green. Took me a while to get to that insight. I now call folks in the Orange world who read about Teal and resonate strongly and long for that consciousness, or feel at home in it, "the invisible Greens," LOL! Exit-Green, is the SD name for that phase of that stage of consciousness/worldview. Does that make sense?
Here's another angle on why Green is non-trivial, and a true stage. In Spiral Dynamics framework, there is a swing between two orientations, a swing that forms a progression in development. Some stages help a person differentiate themselves from a group and master being an individual at a certain maturity of consciousness.
That starts at Red, and gets done in a more mature way at Orange. Other stages help that more mature self-individual re-integrate into new kinds of groups possible only with others at that same stage. The individual whose self-sense has developed, learns the various ways to be social, to function reciprocally and then interwoven-ly in groups and relationships. When that is matured enough, then a new differentiation into an even more mature self-sense is possible.
Those group phases are Purple, Blue and Green, in First Tier. Each is absolutely necessary. Without the learning to function from a healthy Orange self-sense into a healthy Green group-sense, the foundation for Second Tier and Teal is incomplete. Teal is the exploration and maturation of someone with all the Green relating skills, in applying those skills to the welfare of a new scope of "all."
It can get blurred if Turquoise is already showing up sometimes for some folks who are usually in Teal, because that is the next group/social-oriented stage, and brings an emphasis on/interest in/desire for community, teams, social fields. It's different from the wide social concerns of the Teal individual, even eco-systems concerns! Concern for an ecosystem and for certain kinds of collective intelligence is quite different from both the Green group-consciousness and the Turquoise group-consciousness.
"We're all in this together. Each of us is important." Those viewpoints, matured in the Green worldview, are a necessary foundation for Teal, which is can be described as empowering and enlivening the Whole by enhancing and synergizing the Parts.
In other words, the value of each of individual must be intimately, emotionally real to me, before I can ethically and effectively regard and work with them as parts of a whole system, and before I can care for the whole by caring for them as parts. Orange regards individuals as means to ends, usually my own ends, and their reality as emotional beings to whom I can relate via my emotions, is simply not yet a matured perspective.
The progression is:
- others as means to my or our shared goals;
- others as full, rich, humans like me who are emotionally real to me as we work toward my or our goals;
- others as parts of a whole system we are all parts of, parts which can work toward shared goals as emotionally real compatriots.
Here's a cartoon-level walk through the swings from group to individual, as the stages of consciousness develop, from the perspective of an individual. When I rediscover where I originally saw this way of describing the maturation of consciousness, I will post the exact place in a comment. I've found it extraordinarily useful to see the maturational sequence from this angle.
Purple to Red:
At Purple, there is a "we" but it is not composed of "I's." It is the fused "we" of the infant. The step into maturity compared to Beige, is the more-conscious awareness of the "we." After long enough in that, there comes a sense that "I" am more than my role in the tribe. The "Terrible Two's" begin. The Red world is still the same dangerous world as the Purple world, but now I am not subject to/fused and merged with the gods or my tribe. I am going to make it on my own. I am going to explore my personal power to keep myself safe, and I am going to discover and learn to express my own unique needs and desires.
Red to Blue:
After long enough in a social setting of others Red like that, the downsides become apparent (violence and instability, for example) and the individuation has been consolidated, so the new "I" wants to live in a less chaotic and more orderly social setting. People like that new "I" create rules and authorities to limit my/our self-expression. We individuals with a self-sense matured by our time in Red, are now a "we" serving a cause larger than ourselves, from whence the rules and authorities come. Life becomes more predictable and thus feels safer.
Blue to Orange:
With the foundation of learning to live together somewhat more peaceably than in Red, and being concerned with more than my own self, the person feels ready to step out of the Blue constrictions and restrictions on self-expression again, and move into a more socially-aware version of individual development, in a somewhat safer world where -- in the Orange worldview stage -- I can be successful and get what I want, and find out more about who I am, through the use of my mind and through exchanges with others based on our individual wants. I also see (but rationally, logically, not emotionally) that others are like me in many ways, and have rights like mine. I'm maturing into and through Orange worldview.
Orange to Green:
With enough maturity in self-ness through being with others in Orange, comes the realization that I feel a bit like a superficial self, that part of who I am is not being paid attention to. I have feelings, and others do, and I want to explore relating more from and through feelings. So I move into Green, and we do that in depth. And we extend our circle of concern and care to many who were invisible to us in Orange but we now realize are just like us, through our feelings, not just our logic. We have empathy for a lot more folks.
Here's the key to Green as the capstone of First Tier: Orange can logic-and-science its way to universal human concern. Humans are observably "the same." But Orange does not FEEL that sameness. ONLY in Green do we learn to feel and directly experience the reality of our shared humanity and the intrinsic value of other people and other lives.
And without that feeling-reality, Teal is shallow, hollow, and heartless systems-thinking, and the three Teal organizational breakthroughs of wholeness, self-management, and Evolutionary Purpose are shallow pro-forma exercises, lip-service, name-only. Even manipulative.
We in Green learn to function as a group, in groups, even sometimes to the point of ignoring our own well-being, but the value of group functioning with selves that are as differentiated as we became in our Orange stage, is now quite apparent and wonderful.
Green to Teal:
With enough experiences in that, a person starts to feel bogged down again by the needs of the group, and the way that things aren't getting done because of endless focus on feelings. Concern for the group now requires a further assertion of self at a far more mature level of both differentiation and integration.
Self begins to assert that everyone's well-being would be better served by aligning around purpose, and beginning to set priorities among feelings, wants, needs, processes -- within oneself and within the group. It's a subtle shift but a quantum leap, from an amorphous "we" to "the whole of us."
The TIER leap into Teal/Yellow allows people with the emotional maturity gained in Green to set to work alongside one another, in a new kind of group able to see the needs of others in a way that they can DO something about those needs--synergistically, not sacrificing one for another; Green doesn't know how to do anything but either-or. Both-and, comes online in Yellow/Teal. It's something like the shift from teenager to adult.
Teal to Turquoise:
Eventually with enough of that experience, the person begins to be able to see below the surface of actions to more subtle kinds of interactions going on, and realize that underlying the surface of teams, groups, organizations, networks, ecosystems, is something beyond human emotions and actions, beyond human mind and feelings. Something else seems to be going on. The "whole" is vaster and works somewhat differently from what I first thought as a Teal-stager!
With the foundation of the more mature "I" formed from acting for the benefit of a very complex whole AND all its parts, the person is ready to explore a new and seemingly (to the one going in) paradoxical kind of "we" in which the whole is much vaster and more subtle than the Teal "I" could have discerned or imagined!
But in the Teal work, some limits of actions and systems and designs have become apparent, and anomalies like synchronicities and shared consciousness have showed up, pointing to something "beyond" which becomes my focus of exploration. Turquoise is emerging as my worldview, a more consciousness-oriented way of "being" with others while still being "me" -- a way that I could not have begun to "grok" without all my experiences in Teal. ("I" is not me the author speaking, but a proposed generic "I" speaking.)
And this continues into Third Tier. I've touched on those stages in some of my other blogposts, for example this one.
You can see how each stage offers a perspective and experience on the individual-collective relationship which builds on and requires incorporating the previous perspective and experience. The individual moving into each stage of a more collective-oriented worldview is a different individual from the one who entered the previous collective-oriented stage. And each collective-oriented stage requires individuals with differing capacities and orientations to one another as to who they are.
For example, the self-experienced identity of the individual in Orange worldview is quite different from the self-experienced identity of the individual in Red worldview, but is not healthy without the sense of empowered self-sense and self-expression available only by maturing through the Red stage. (Remember that Red is a maturation out of undifferentiated, "oceanic" fusion with "the tribe," (or the mother,) with no real individual identity-boundaries at all.)
And for another example, the self-experienced identity of the individuals in a Teal worldview require maturation through what it's like to be a Green individual in a Green collective. Otherwise, as I've said, in such a pseudo-Teal perspective/worldview, the person sees a systemic collective, but the individuals within it are not emotionally rich and real and valued for who they are; they are merely parts to be manipulated in the name of "Evolutionary Purpose."
What is your view of all this? What did you gain from this exploration, and what remains for you?
* As in my other blogposts, Yellow is the Spiral Dynamics term for this stage; Teal is the Integral/Wilberian/Laloux term for the stage. I mean them as equivalent.
** Of course there is a partial truth in the view. I invite anyone to give a long description and rationale for the view, so I and others can discern and enrich our own views with that truth.
by Rev. Alia Aurami, Ph.D., Head Minister, Amplifying Divine Light in All Church
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