The Limits of the Social Network

This blog entry is an update to an article I submitted to the Huffington Post last year. It is in light of some new manifestations of social patterns than could signal the maturing of the era of social media/network. It could also be the beginning of a new phase that closes the gap between the old system and the new. A very important stage in our upward human journey.

For years I’ve been tracking complex social systems and their life cycles through Gravesian methodologies. The one that we’re in now has been the most fascinating. It is the most ubiquitous, the fastest moving and has proven to be exponentially more complex than all previous systems put together. I call this cycle the “Democratization of Information and Resources”, which started in the early 1990s. This, in my opinion represents the widest spread of the Green, 6th level value system of Egalitarianism in human history. We are witnessing that through the Social Network and the spread of information.

The Huffington Post piece was written at a time when I believed the system was exiting its introductory phase; transparency and chaos. Since the publishing of the article, there has been a few unfortunate manifestations of the system as it enters its maturity phase.  ows_144002532180502The most visible example is the inability of the “Black Lives Matter” movement (relying heavily on the Green/social network) to reach peaceful change, which empowered disgruntled ex-military men, who are trained to kill, to take matters into their own hands and attack police officers.

ice_Shootings_Dallas_Funeral.JPG_U8OQ7GP_t1140(RED doing the work naive Green couldn’t achieve on its own by attacking the symbol of the Blue system).

I’m still assessing whether other events such as the Brexit vote and the rise and fall of Bernie Sanders as a presidential candidate are a part of the end of the “Introductory” phase of this cycle.


Maybe these are the needed calls for the losing side on both of these issues to adopt more inclusive (transcend and include) strategies that are the manifestation of a truly healthy Green value system. This is an essential stage of development before humanity can move into an entirely higher set of values denoted by my work and the words of Graves as the the values of the “magnificence of existence.” We do, indeed live in interesting times. We are indeed witnessing history.

To read the original Huffington Post article, Please CLICK HERE



IEC BannerThe Second Integral European Conference will be taking place this year in Budapest Hungary from May 4-8. Dr. Beck, Elza Maalouf and I were honored to be invited as Keynote Speakers. Dr. Beck will speak about the New Global Divide  on Thursday afternoon. While Elza and I are scheduled to speak on Saturday morning.  Elza will use her Large-Scale Design tools to address the refugee crisis in Europe, and I will be speaking about the future of  EU Economic integration from a Gravesian perspective. There’s nothing better than a presentation on Evolutionary Economics at 9:00 AM to energize the whole day. For a detailed list of speakers, conference schedule and registration, please CLICK HERE.

Spiral EU

Elza’s keynote will be followed by a panel discussion on the refugee issue. There will also be 20-minute side sessions immediately following the panel where these conversations will continue. Elza will speak about the importance  Arab Nationalism and the different contents of Arab Purple-RED.   I will address the issues on the decline of Capitalism and the forces shaping the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The conference will be preceded by a 3-day Spiral Dynamics training from April 30-May 2. It will be led by Dr. Beck, Teddy Hebo Larsen, Elza Maalouf, Bence Ganti and me. This will be the first public training offered in Europe in over a decade and will focus on Organizational Design.  For more information and registration for the SD training, please Click Here.

As Europe faces difficult  challenges, it is assuring to know that the organizers of  this conference have recognized the importance of verticality  as an essential ingredient in designing  robust integral  solutions.



The World is Bifurcated and Disrupted

It has been ten years since Thomas Friedman’s book The World is Flat became an international bestseller. This was a book that cast the widest net on defining what a modern-day globalized economy looked like. Like many of those who read it, I was in awe of how technology, logistics, and management practices can come together to define the future of a world so connected, efficient and small. For the first time, someone made sense out of all the changes that were taking place and framed them in language so new it was welcoming for some, but petrifying for many. The era of globalization was upon us and there was nothing we could have done to stop it.

Of the book’s 469 pages, the most profound theme that stayed with me for all these years was one statement that Friedman made. It was about the endgame of this rapid change: “If your job is quantifiable, it’s outsourceable.” To me, that statement represented the beginning of the end of the American Dream as we knew it.

Friedman’s pioneering approach in explaining the new global complexity, and his bold predictions, earned him much criticism that remains valid till this day. In an effort to dismiss the book’s findings, Nobel Prize laureate, Joseph Stiglitz declared that the world is not only “not flat,” but it was becoming “less flat.” Urban studies theorist Richard Florida declared, “The world in not flat, it’s spiky.” Value systems theorist Don Beck, declared that “The fifth level world might be flat, but the real world remains hierarchical.


With the benefit of hindsight, we can  see how unpredictable technological disruptions can be. Yes, the flattening of the commerce-driven fifth level value system has brought prosperity to many remote parts of the world, while destroying much of the Industrial Age ethos in the West. It has made instant global communications free and possible. The ubiquitous use of cell phones and solar panels have enabled remote parts of the world to by-pass the traditional channels of infrastructure development. Collaboration, peering and sharing have become part and parcel of the information economy.

But, in spite of all that, there are many things that Friedman could not have possibly predicted. The outsourcing phenomenon has matured and has shown that cheap labor in places like China and India was only temporary as these countries moved forward to their next stages of development. First came their sudden rise to the middle class and the need for higher wages. Then stories surfaced about riots, suicides and 16-hour workdays by children in Chinese factories that made our iPhones and iPads. Similar practices came to the surface from places like Bangladesh and Vietnam presenting the most power economic engine – the American consumer – with a moral dilemma. Soon, companies like Apple and clothing giant Gap, Inc. found it necessary to explore alternatives to their business model. In less than a decade, the world became less flat.

Other concepts that Freidman explored have simply fallen by the wayside. Lower production costs and exponential advancements in digital capabilities have rendered the insourcing phenomena obsolete. Offshoring has suffered from the same stigma as outsourcing. The only element left of the last flattener is the tax avoidance strategy that enables corporations to hide revenues offshore. Transparency and government pressure are forcing an end to those practices as well.

So, why have ideas of contemporary thinkers like Thomas Friedman proved to be incomplete only ten years after they defined the brave new world we live in. Today’s world changes at the speed of light and, unless these thinkers can ride on those light particles their insights will only paint a partial picture that lasts for no more than a minute. Never before has technology defined our lives and expression of values as much as it has in the last 2 decades. Today, we face one the greatest disruptions humanity has faced in it history. We are defined not by our character, but by our ability to adapt to the latest gadgets. Entire industries have disappeared due to technological disruption, and a few, more advanced algorithms will soon replace the disruptors themselves.

The classroom has moved to our laptops, and within a few short years we will become autonomous learners. Driverless cars will provide us with cleaner air, productive travel time, and less crowded streets. All these changes will leave behind millions of disrupted workers with obsolescent skills and no one has a plan to retrain them.

Welcome to the age of disruption, a period in human history that very few people can forecast its final outcome. Due to its continued unpredictability, social science defines this phase of change as a paradigm shift. In my work we call this particular phase the decline and entropy phase of an old system, while the emerging system continues to be defined . This is where values  of an old system that have been exhausted reach the point of bifurcation and  toxicity from old formations collapse and a new natural order begins to rise. We’re beginning to see some patterns of that new order.

Jobs that have defined much of the post-modern era that are a quantifiable and digitizeable will continue to disappear, while demand for specialized personal services and unique non mass-produced products will flourish.

The future is both local and global. The supply chain will continue to flatten our world, while new non-digitizeable careers for the middle and working class will increase in popularity and occupy the empty neighborhood shops. As the disruption wanes, human input becomes complementary to that of the machines that make things. Imagine ordering a custom-made suit from your favorite designer online, and getting fitted for it one hour later at your local tailor shop. All the tailoring done by a machine, the final fit decided on by you and your tailor. It is a return to the simplicity of a locally based economy empowered and shaped by the complexity and the distributed intelligence of the digital age. This part we know. Only the passage of time will define the rest of the story.