In northern autumn, the bar-tailed godwit flies south from the shores of Alaska to New Zealand, non-stop for 9-11 days and nights, each and every year – instinctively. Round trip is 30,000 km. Every southern winter the Great White sharks of southern New Zealand swim northwest to the Gold Coast of Australia or to New Caledonian, at around 100 km per day, each and every year – instinctively. Round trip is 6,000 km.
All year-round, mankind working in modern businesses takes work-in-process and stores it anywhere, and everywhere, until there is no more space, and furthermore breaks-down processes into smaller and smaller and more measurable steps, instinctively, month after month, year after year. And the round trip is infinite. The question is, does it need to be like this? The answer is an emphatic no!
It is a commonly held belief that adult development is static after late adolescence and that issues such as individual intelligence or social empathy are defining factors after this. However, since the end of the Second World War developmental psychologists have time and again recognized and measured a step-wise continuation in adult development. These strands trace their roots from Maslow or Piaget or Jung. The seminal “empirical” work of Elliott Jaques in manufacturing is now acknowledged as preceding these approaches.
The different strands are;
- Piaget –> Kohlberg –> Kegan & Lahey
- Maslow -> Graves -> Beck & Cowan
- Jung/Erickson –> Loevinger-> Cook-Greuter & Torbert
- Freud -> Klein -> Jaques
The American philosopher Ken Wilber has in-turn synthesized these strands into one all-encompassing concept.
This presentation seeks to show how these disparate approaches have each converged around a conception of three 3 major orders of adult human consciousness; sub-divisible into 2 minor levels each.
The adult orders are;
- 5th order, post-modernist or self-transforming.
- 4th order, modernist or self-authoring.
- 3rd order, traditional, or socialized.
Moving up a level always represents an adaptive challenge to the individuals or social groups involved. Each level builds upon, and incorporates, all former levels. All levels are determined by the life experiences of the people who live them. However, in times of duress, both individuals and societies can regress to former levels.
This understanding has significant implications for the implementation of Theory of Constraints and its combination with other methodologies. Torbert, Kegan and Lahey, Frederic Laloux and Said Dawlabani have shown the relationship between adult development and success in a range of modern organizations.
Below the adult stages, are 2 orders that are pre-adolescent or instinctual. The pre-adult orders are;
- 2nd order, concrete.
- 1st order, mythical or archaic.
Many times, we seem to be quite unaware of our basic instincts, we think that our organizational operations are rational, however, they also have a deeply instinctual basis to them.
Theory of Constraints offers a 4th order (Modernist) solution based upon science, and successfully transfers that to 3rd order (Traditional) organizations. However, at levels below 4th order (Modernist) scientific, and often times even at 4th order, it will have to work against or in parallel with systems that are counterproductive such as 3rd order (Traditional) socialized accounting systems and 2nd order (Concrete) near-instinctual reactions about independence, variability, and efficiency. Instinctive responses from 1st and 2nd order, formalized by the 3rd order socialized mind pull us back from what we are easily capable of transmitting or transferring and of attaining. These factors operate like ballast on a balloon, we could rise very much higher without them.
Organizations that operate at lower levels than 4th order (Modernist) scientific, although they can successfully import 4th order ideas, will either;
- Fail to remove old instinctual and counter-productive measures
- Remove them under fair weather and reinstate them under any perceived duress
- Reinstate them when 3rd or 2nd order governance or ownership decrees so.
Organizations that operate at 4th order (Modernist) scientific or higher can, in addition to being very successful in attaining results from Theory of Constraints, be even more successful by incorporating other aspects outside of Theory of Constraints that better integrate localized 3rd order techniques, or are consistent with other 4tt order (Modernist) scientific or systemic approaches, or 5th order (Post-modernist) integral or holistic approaches. These are;
- 3rd order methods such as much of Kaizen, Lean, Six Sigma, and parts of Requisite Organization.
- 4th order methods of Deming and Shewhart, Ohno and Shingo, Forrester.
- 5th order methods of Kegan and Lahey, Torbert, Laloux, and Dawlabani