This blog is about theoretical value systems which are used as the foundation for many personality tests and management tools for team building. For example, Spiral Dynamics. It is a start of an investigation on how the enneagram relates to this.
What is a value system?
A value system is a recognition that people have different patterns of beliefs, values and motivations. This way of thinking finds its origin in humanistic psychology.
The most famous humanistic psychologist is Abraham Maslow and his hierarchy of needs. A second one is Carl Rogers, founder of the client-centred therapy, also known as counseling. Someone who is less famous, but who’s work is still very influential is Dr. Clare Graves. His system theory of values forms the groundwork for many personality tests and management tools as Spiral Dynamics, Insights and many others. You can recognize these by the (seven) colours in which they are sorted: Graves’ students have translated his theory into the colours system in order to make it more accessible for the public. Needless to say, they succeeded.
What a lot of people, who work with the enneagram, do not know is that its psychological dimension is also founded in humanistic psychology.
Within the enneagram world psychiatrist Claudio Naranjo is famous for his psychological drawing of the nine personality structures. Not so well known, he was also student/successor of the humanistic psychologist/psychotherapist Frits Perls (founder of the Gestalt therapy). Originating from more or less the same source, all these theories, models and methods have more in common with each other than is often known.
If the theories have the same source, what are the differences about?
The most important differences can be found in the direction in which the theories, models and methods have developed over time. Most chose to simplify their theory to make its application easier and more powerful. For example, at Management Drives they chose to remove turquoise, the seventh colour. Turquoise stands for the spiritual awareness level of Unity, which apparently was not considered useful in the workplace. Now, I am only describing the choice that was made and do not judge; every system adds its own value.
How do you see this? Do you also think turquoise is not useful in the workplace, or not?
Because the enneagram is rooted in ancient wisdoms and spiritual traditions, people who studied and practiced it were very much interested in further deepening the knowledge and insights of the nine personality structures. The enneagram theory became ever more profound, but also more complex and therefore more difficult to apply in the workplace. Those who ‘support’ the enneagram were (and are) not really interested in applying the knowledge at work, because they are merely focussed on their own self-realization and the road that leads there. They aim to develop the highest level of self-awareness. That is right, they intend to function on the level of the colour turquoise one day.
However, Graves’ theory is based on seven colours, while the enneagram has nine. What is that about?
Thanks to ancient wisdoms, which have been transmitted with the enneagram, Claudio Naranjo already knew about nine motives. After intense studying and with that deepening the insights in the nine personality structures, this is – once you have familiarized yourself with them – impossible to ignore. So, seen from the enneagram perspective Graves is missing two colours.
That is unfortunate, because that causes teams to overlook two beautiful and very important qualities. Namely, those brought in by the people who have these personality structures. Obviously, these are brought in but not recognized as such. It is even more unfortunate when a team lacks these two qualities and they are overlooked by a tool that is not able to measure them. This takes away the ability to manage, because you cannot direct what you do not see.
Now, have you become curious about what Enneagram types are missing from the 7 (or 6) colours systems?
In that case, read my next blogs. I will share all available knowledge and information about this. So if you are interested, keep following me.
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Jeanette van Stijn
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