Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Oliver Triebel - McKinsey and integral theory

I sorted through my notes and summed up a few more of my reactions to the meeting with Oliver Triebel in Berlin. My notes follow...

The inquiry with Oliver began with my request to hear about how McKinsey, through Oliver’s leadership, has used integral theory, to improve the effectiveness of the consultants who work for the company.

One of the most interesting transformations of McKinsey’s practice through the Berlin office is that integral theory is being integrated into a number of things spanning workplace environment, to creating inclusive environments, to helping executives who are McKinsey’s clients discover the core of their purpose and how to be more mindful in their work. One of the implications of doing deeper work informed by integral practice is that McKinsey discovered that they could not count on internal staff to bring the kind of perspective they need. They have hired some external trainers/consultants who provide training to consultants. One example is Gita Bellin, an Australian who now provides consultation on spiritual training called “Dynamic Mind Practice.”

Oliver has experimented with completely new forms of consultation practice. Instead of coming to a client with prescriptive notions about what needs to be addressed and how to do it, he begins by asking participants to brainstorm with him what it takes to create a good learning environment (sounds a lot like the Baxter-Magolda "Learning Partnership Model" doesn't it?). Oliver has found that, given the opportunity to generate the qualities, the participants will almost always compile a list that relates to the integral “four-quadrant” model. I can't draw the four-quadrant model in this post but it is a 2X2 quadrant with Interior/Exterior at the top and Individual/Collective down the side. The combination of these results in quadrants labeled "I," "It," "We," and "Its." These refer to different areas of focus necessary to create a holistic and healthy organization.

The reason the four quadrants are so important is that the holistic principle involved means that each quadrant is connected to the others and each affects the others. Sickness in one creates sickness in another and health begets health. In other words, the four-quadrant model is a way of thinking of a holistic personal, interpersonal, cultural and environmental system. Integral theory suggests that advancing human development and the status of life is dependent upon addressing all areas of the four-quadrant model. This description is a gross over-simplification of a model that is much more elegant and interesting than I can describe here but I hope it provides an introductory snap-shot.

Oliver has learned over time that the best strategy for change is to use existing systems and reshape them to confirm or adopt notions of integral theory. Using integral theory as a superimposed model invites only resistance and disconnection. He is currently designing a corporate university model using spiral dynamics to address multi-cultural organizations. In this approach, the spiral is used to help everyone see that others operate at different levels in terms of their understanding of the value of others in the workplace. Knowing this allows the organization to appeal to those things that make sense for each organization member.

Part of the challenge of using integral theory in training is that, with young/younger professionals, you don’t have the developmental maturity for them to relate to the stages of spiral dynamics. However, Oliver’s strategy is to propose the world of idealism and an improved world and this is very attractive to young, bright people who want to make a difference. Intelligence helps because these kinds of individuals are motivated by achievement. If integral theory can help them be more successful, they’ll give it a try.


Anonymous said...

I just discovered this, your blog. This is the kind of information I want in Integral Leadership Review. Perhaps this will be a part of what you present down the road?

Denny Roberts said...

I would be happy for you to use the post about my meeting with Oliver Triebel. Let me know how I might be helpful to you.