What is happening in the world seen through the lens of Spiral Dynamics. With Dr. Loraine Laubscher and Jon Freeman

Heidi writes

We seem to live in a world gone mad. But still, there is a way to understand what is going on at a deeper level with a tool called Spiral Dynamics. When we see what values people have in their stage of development, when we understand  from where their beliefs and actions are driven, we can offer ourselves as effective helpers in the present complex crises all over the world. With the understanding of where the people are coming from, we can communicate with  them in a way they can understand and help them to get out of their narrow positions and embrace new possibilities and ways of finding solutions for their problems.

Spiral Dynamics explains perfectly, how life conditions shape the mindset of people, the ways they are thinking and acting. Everyone starts at “beige”, the level of survival, and then can grow up the spiral, hopefully as many steps as possible. In times of crisis it is likely that people spiral down again to lower levels, survival becomes a huge theme within the Corona threat.

Unfortunately, often the unhealthy version of these levels are expressed. Starting with “Blue”, the level where law and order is important. In this stage, people can become authoritarian and strikt. This is the expression of many police interventions, but there is also the version of a policeman who protects you and helps you when you need help – the healthy version of this level of development.
What happens when police officers are not embodying “blue”, but allow an unhealthy “red” (the stage of egocentric behaviour and expression of personal power) guide their actions? Well, you see it now in the US where a black man was killed by a police officer kneeling on his neck with the expression of joy of having the power to do so. If the police force knew about Spiral Dynamics or similar developmental levels, they would know that they shouldn’t recruit people still in  the red level of development to avoid horrible actions of this kind which then destroys trust in the police as such which is catastrophic for society.

Maybe you don’t know anything yet about Spiral Dynamics and the colors don’t mean anything to you. They denominate the levels of social-psychological development which all humans go through until the level they can reach when they meet the right conditions. In our times of crisis mainly the lower levels are acting out, and often not  in a healthy way.

To resolve the crisis we need leadership from a higher level. There is the demand for everyone who has made it to a higher level, especially into second tier, to use their experience and knowledge to help others grow, in the best way possible, by respecting their level and possibility and guide them into a healthy embodied form of it.

Dr. Lorraine Laubscher, now in her 90st year, has done exactly this when she helped ending Apartheid in South Africa by going out and doing workshops with people who seemed irrevocably violent. She is asking now the next generations to do exactly this: meet the people where they are and communicate with them in a way they can understand – which might be actions instead of words -, give them back their pride of being capable of finding good solutions and create peace and understanding from the bottom up.

I invited Loraine and Jon Freeman to join me at the Integral European Conference last  week and have them exchange their thoughts about how Spiral Dynamics can not only explain what is happening in the world right now, but also point to  possible ”fixes” for the imminent problems. It is a very complex situation which needs to be understood before rushing in with “solutions” which might be counterproductive and become part of the problem instead of the solution.

Lorraine gives a good example how storytelling has an important place in the communication, especially with people in the first 4 levels of development which are pre-rational. Jon has the gift of weaving all that together into a structure which might be more easily understood by people acculturated in the western world. It was a joy to witness their conversation and how they answered the upcoming questions from the audience.

Enjoy the conversation and think about how you can be part of those needed to heal the unhealthy expression of any of the developmental stages which are creating the problems we are facing in this century.

Videopost for June 10th, 2020


 SD  Loraine and Jon

0:00 Intro Heidi and about

3:10 Introduction of Dr. Lorraine Laubscher

4:16 Intro of Jon Freeman

5:02 The conversation starts

5:31 Loraine struggling with technology and the setting

7:00 Loraine starts talking about America and what is happening around racism

8:20 The importance of purple in African Americans

10:40 The police should be blue, but has become low red which enjoys violence.

12:20 Orange: calculated risk. As a president you need someone who can calculate the risk.

13:40 About green, high green = teal. Yellow will do it.

14:25 Jon about breakdown in race and law and order, + pandemic. A deep connection. 

15:10 What is deep underneath the pandemic. Psychological vulnerabilities through disease. How to face the threat of death and the fear related to it. Awareness of beige, purple and red systems: all pre-cognitive and pre-verbal.

19:30 Loraine brings it back to South Africa and Mandela and the following leaders. When blue gets out of the system, the result is low purple or low red. 

22:00 Neighborhoods. Positive energy in red would be needed to go ahead. Need to get something whatever it is – not helpful. The importance of the value systems and how they influence behaviour. Purple, red and low blue in the positive could make a difference.

26:08 Jon talks about Clare Graves in his time and what has come online since then.

28:30 Loraine chimes in. She knew Clare Graves, the tapes of many conversations seem to be lost. Don Beck and Chris Cohen. We need to preserve what the older people know! Lorraine refers to the space trips.

31:10 Jon: communication through stories, today the stories are told in a different way. The levels in second tier, raising to the next level, the first levels need to be strongly developed in us. Not only the shift upwards, but we need the shift downwards, which needs to be triggered in our awareness of early stage systems.

34:00 The conversation is drawing from the same thread, although they come from a different perspective. Lorraine feels beyond the requirements of technology today.

35:50 The sound of the systems: what is igniting the system? Energetic frequencies.

37:10 Loraine talks thinking outside the box: not always accepting that what we see is what there is. Find new ways of using Spiral Dynamics in any kind.

38:30 Questions. Don: Jon Answers: reflex actions in response to race issues. Unhealthy blue (includes a lot of red) wants only to close the things back into the box. Leadership leading red into a healthy blue. We need healthy versions of the systems, not so much second tier ass the goal for the population.

41:50 Loraine: need to make people aware of what are healthy systems. You need to meet the person where they are and talk to them in the right way according to their level of development. A story of her life.

44:20 Jon mentions Rica Viljoen’s comment.

45:10: what causes the unhealthy expression of red and blue? Jon refers to his website A paper about how human beings get damaged in early age regarding bonding and power. Jon’s answer to the question. Shadow work, go back into healthy expressions of people

47:15 Loraine tells about Don Beck training of policemen. A story. Now in America the anger needs to be allowed (no green approach needed). Bring high purple into high red.

49:35 Question by Ruan Viljoen. Lorraine answers: Accelerated learning to open parts of the brain in a different way. Open people to possibilities in themselves which they didn’t see themselves before.

51:10 Loraine discovers Marilyn Hamilton in the audience and they speak about the past and of Findhorn

52:00 Jon goes back to the questions. How to move a group from healthy purple to healthy red? A new story is needed where people can align around which shifts their perception and move them to a different outcome.

54:00 we cannot move purple and red to the higher levels, but work with their level. Raising people into a WE system is possible, but not a total transformation of humanity. Maybe only during the time of the pandemic. UK: from orange to green is happening. New stories can shift

a lot consciousness, but need to be alive for a long period to really be embedded in society systems.

57;45 Loraine  Awareness of another system; sometimes stories or music, today no more blue, but red and purple music. Everywhere in the world music has strong beat, doesn’t arrive at blue. Change comes with experience, so the source of film and music could level up.

1:00:00 Jon acknowledges a comment from Christine

00:44 Questions by Rica and Marilyn. Jon answers. The psycho-social equivalent of Darwinism. The spiral is a 4-quadrant mode. Need to not concentrate on only one quadrant for change to happen. Spiral dynamics perspective about life conditions: How long does it take? We will see, depend on us and how much we can support the change to happen.

3:25 Loraine: Change the thinking takes challenging them without putting them down. An example: creating a difficulty so that they can come up with something new. The pride of having managed to find the answer. We must not take that pride away, but give it back to them!

6:00 Susan’s questio: Jon responds as an optimist. Can we meet the challenge? Developmental models we have learnt, we were preparing for these times. Are we ready to adapt? We are needed!

7:40 Loraine is at the end of her career. She tries to speak to as many people as she can, She would love to run workshops in the cities where the problem is exploding like she did in the critical times in South Africa. A story: the limited power of words.

9:40 Jon takes the people back to the situation in South Africa where Loraine was working. People now need to do what Loraine did then. It is possible. Doing the things on the ground. Leadership requires pulling people up to the healthy versions of where they are. We need to work so much more bottom up. We need to shift from expecting that others or governments fix the things we desire.

12:10 Loraine: you cannot make change, change must be grown

12:18 Heidi asks: how can you make the growth happen, so that change can happen? Lorraine answers: a little bit at a time. She is shocking people who talk with her, challenge them. We need to have courage and get out and challenge people.

13:40 Heidi thanks Loraine for her bravery, appreciation and Jon who had managed the session well.

15:05 Loraine proposes to talk again with Jon. She goes back and looks how things are.

16:30 Heidi invites people to the website and to do other conversations

17:15 Rica comes on Video and asks Loraine about how she taught a blind student the colors. Loraine tells the story and how she works with all senses and practical actions.

20:ff the state of the world. A wonderful world to be in and time to live: We might be able to fix the problems and hope in the next generations to find the things out.

22 Appreciation and poll – it takes some time a learning curve

23:45 Marily’s appreciation, Lorraine gives huge thanks and talks about her ageing and despite she is learning zoom, new things are always happening

25:20 Applause from the audience

About Jon Freeman

Jon Freeman is a radical thinker leading the mind-set shift into the second tier world.  He is one of the world’s leading trainers in Spiral Dynamics (  He is a consultant in organisational development and a creator of personal development products.  Jon’s book “The Science of Possibility” is a ground-breaking exploration of the new reality and “Reinventing Capitalism” the only full four-quadrant approach to money.  His new trainings in intuition and creating your reality can be explored through the Facebook “Access to Possibility” group.

About Dr. Loraine Laubscher

Loraine is one of the most experienced users of Spiral Dynamics globally. She is renowned for her ability to apply Spiral Dynamics practically and with lasting results.

Loraine wrote her Phd when she was 83, the result of her life long experience with working with Spiral Dynamics and of her collaboration with Don Beck in South Africa, the country with which she is intimately familiar.

Her easy and accessible communication style enables her to share sound and practical problem-solving-, thinking- and conflict resolution skills with employees at all levels in the organisation.

Her research interests include effective work place forums, diversity management, personnel and organisational change. 

Loraine has presented papers at conferences in North and South America as well as South Africa.