Experience with African tribal ways of being within an enterprise


Both René and Alain work with tribal people in African countries. They teach enterprises how to speak with people of different cultures and different ways of being in order to effectively run their businesses. The employees, on the other hand feel seen and respected when addressed in the right way, and they are happy to do their work in the best possible way. Learn in the conversation how they are creating trust and connection and enable to reach the goals.


We Europeans have exported our mindset, our ideas and ways of being, everywhere in the world and we think that ours is the right way of doing. With lots of good will we sent all sorts of – what we believed to be – support to the developing countries and we were wondering why “those people” didn’t follow up with it in the exact ways we had imagined. I think here for instance about all sorts of machinery which was not built for Saharian sand and soon ended up unusable; or factories which couldn’t be properly handled by the local people.

We were quick in believing them “primitive”, not intelligent enough and unwilling to learn what we wanted to teach them. We never arrived at the idea that, maybe, something could be wrong with our approach. We didn’t question our methods and ways of communicating with them. Fortunately, in the last few decades, we have learned a lot – at least some of us – by the work of Clare Graves and Don Beck, who discovered that human beings are at different levels of development and that people on each level have their own way of seeing the world, their own way of communicating, their specific needs for living their lives and for learning new things.

It became very clear that our own way of being and doing is not at all paramount for the rest of the world, and if we really wanted to support others, we needed to find the right way and the appropriate language to reach them and to be understood. Building factories and imposing work on people i.e. in Africa is not the same as when we do it in Germany. Transferring the same practices to another country and continent 1:1. The expectation that it would work efficiently is doomed to fail.

Fortunately, there are people involved in these countries who have the understanding of what is needed to engage the local people. To learn that is not an easy task, but the result is evident.
In our conversation, two of these pioneers share their experience of working with people in Africa. Alain supports women to build small enterprises in Ghana – he first had to build trust and was accepted by the tribe he is working with. Rene has much experience with workers in gold mines. She is South African and grown into the particular needs of the continent, while Alain started his project 8 years ago, coming over from Europe. An interesting exchange of what they found challenging, exciting and meaningful.

Videopost for December 11th, 2019

0:00 Intro Heidi

1:00 Alain introduces himself and his background (center of Human emergence), his connection with Africa in 2009

3:50 Theory U to be applied to Africa, he is currently in ghana. Tomba tribe, 2 Million people who have their own rules, in strong purple. Alain is an “adopted child” of the community.

6:10 Supporting women in the community to create their future within the positive elements of the tribal values.

7:25 Heidi leading back to a previous talk with Rene

8:03 Rene: her dream came true when she met Rica, collaborating in Mandala Consulting. Believe in the goodness of people. Purple is really caring for each other. Speaking she really MEAN it! It comes for the heart, which is so different to corporate life. Centre of Human emergence in UK. Leadership development.

12:12 Alain: Becoming part of a community – how long did it take to be adopted? – A process. Alain describes his first meetings. Confrontation with the prejudices. Doing small things for change. Being seen as a leader

15:45 Rene: her work and how it went. Creating relationships with the people in the mines. When a trusted person brings a friend, he is immediately accepted. A different way of relating, which works only when you are completely authentic and in your heart.

19:00 Was it a challenge for Alian to come from a 1sr world country? Europe and Us are  emphasising the individual, not in Africa. Being and behaving in an integral way. ASHANTI movement. Ghana: purple entering red. Alain learned about his own purple.

21:50 Rene: about a slideshow she took in the villages. Christianity or Islam, religious believes and values show up even in shop names. Western influences leads to change that. Blue challenges the purple. “You MUST”. People are shell shocked. They function differently in “Ghana time”.  People in purple like to say what they think you want to hear!

25:50 Ashanti and Magomba tribes.  Blue already a bit integrated. Purple is concerned about survival! Shepa  center can only work, if blue-orange is integrated

27:45 Rene:  “Benchmark of engagement” process developed by rica Viljoen.: the culture of the organisation, based on its values. Renes experience with the process. Challenges. The company is in blue, but creating spaces for people in purple, in South Africa and in Ghana, where she worked. 

29:40 René gives examples of purple life in organisations. What people really need. Entrepreneurial attitude arises by itself.

35:10 Alain asks: how to include healthily previous stages instead of dismiss them?  How can they make their family proud?

37:05 Alain asks more questions.  René gives an example as response. “How do WE make it better? Co-ownership.

41:30 Other example from the work in the mines: “Value circles” interventions (based on Loraine laubscher) for mediation between teams. 

45:00 Alain. ABout what he finds in Ghana. The clash of western ideas and reality. Building on the chiefs. How the work is organised. Everybody is “family”, a common task and asset = a “professional family”. Slow insertion of structure.

51:00 Unhealthy red is emerging. How to handle that?  “Action Learning”.

53:20 Shared leadership based on trust relationship

54:00 How do people learn in purple? Rica developed the “industrial theatre” to speak by pictures and stories. Embed the values of the organisation into the heart of people. A big impact on the enterprise and ripple effect on the families.

56:45 Example money. Group Bonuses self organisation, contribution to a center,

59:30 Renè appreciates Alain’s work with and for the women in Ghana.

1:00:00 How to come to visit that reality 

!:01:00 Heidi starts to wrap up.

1:03:00 How to make plans together.

1:05:00 It is important to honour what the people believe in. Bringing words and behaviour together.

About René de Beer

Please go to THIS POST to learn more about René

About Alain Volz

Realization of Leap into Life Foundation is the outcome of an emerging process. Alain has studied business administration and organizational psychology in the Netherlands. For 15 years he has been working as a consultant on human talent & change management. Working for the largest independent consultancy company in the Netherlands he met Dr. Don E. Beck.

Together with Dr. Beck and others Alain is co-founder of the Center for Human Emergence in the Netherlands (CHE-NL). As co-director of CHE Synnervate, the consultancy company owned by CHE-NL, he travelled with Anne-Marie Voorhoeve to Zambia. Together they coordinated research on the rural community in Macha applying Spiral Dynamics integral.

In 2011 Alain was invited by representants of the Dagomba tribe in Ghana Northern Region. They requested for support in preserving the traditional values in modern times. Shea butter making is significant in the tradition. It is work done by women and earning them some income. But even with earnings from Shea butter making most women and their families live below poverty rate.

Leap into Life Foundation has a purpose to change this; to add value to the international chain of Shea butter production and trade. The foundation calls this a Value Based Economy – an economic system that adds value to the chain in social, economic and ecological perspective; Planet, People, Prosperity. Basically, the inequalities and irregularities we are facing with Shea butter are issues many at the ‘Bottom of the Pyramid’ encounter.

Spiral Dynamics integral is applied to create clarity in the complexity of the value chain from a ‘whole-system’ approach. The communities are suffering from global warming, land degradation, social inequality, and economic exploitation. Creating a ‘Fair Chain’ in Shea touches all these topics and makes them concrete.

Spiral Dynamics is used to create workable solutions with respect for the traditional values (meet them where THEY are), to support healthy development of the local communities in Africa (transcend AND include), and to bridge the different worldviews (from Beige to Yellow/Turquoise) that are present in the Shea butter chain from producer in Africa till end consumer in the West. This process is called “Mesh weaving”. Alain is a Spiral Wizard and Leap into Life is a Meshwork Foundation.


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