Flow of change

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From Spiral Dynamics.

  • Alpha Fit—holding onto the status quo maintains stability: doing things as they have been done, fulfilling expectations, conforming to standards, reinforcing what is. Context shifts and moves you to Beta.
  • Beta Angst—From Beta, you can either regress to Alpha, or accept and flow to Alpha', or deny and get stuck in the Gamma trap. You want or need to change, clarify the problems, identify the barriers to change, and name names. Begin to identify what’s wrong in specific terms and push recognition of it/them. Demonstrate the misalignments and incapacity of the old system to address the oncoming problems. Get engagement with finding solutions. Be supportive while angst and ‘neurotic’ behavior occurs; expect signs of stress and mistrust. Help with discovery and insight about what is wrong. This will push toward Gamma.
  • Gamma Trap—the regressive search to previous solutions will become almost desperate, and it won’t work if the problems of a next level are real. You will eventually break through into the Delta Surge, moving to the new Alpha. The harder the barriers identified on passing through Beta are to overcome, the deeper the Gamma pit. Big barriers, deep hole. At first they might look insurmountable – no way to clime out. You will feel desperation a the seeming impossibility of crossing them. Expect anger and acting out in express-self systems; sacrifice-self systems will tend to act in. To get out of the Gamma Trap, first offer means for dealing with the barriers. Then present insight and realistic alternatives. That begins the Delta Surge.
  • Delta Surge—Feelings of break-thru—barriers overcome, chains broken, light at the end of the tunnel. Keep the process grounded so pie-in-the-sky dreams don’t come crashing down. At the same time, avoid pouring cold water on enthusiasm. People at Delta often get the “settle down and act normal” message from people still at Alpha, the message of hopelessness from those in Gamma, and confused blank stares from Beta. Too much of those can push them back toward Gamma anger, or total resignation in the original Alpha but with energy drained. Delta needs support to consolidate into a new way of thinking/being. Make space for some failure; insulate clumsy efforts while the learning proceeds. This is where cheer-leaders and reinforcement are crucial, and positive enthusiasm and desire to learn and grow are at a peak. In this zone, individuals find what Csikszentmihalyi calls flow and organizations reach Adizes’ peak. After this, look for a move toward a next Alpha.
  • Alpha New—Like the previous Alpha, the new Alpha also is a state of balance and stability. Unlike the first change state, however, there will be fresh memory of the previous system. The experiences of transition will be close to the surface. This is the “new me” phase, the “me I am now versus used to be.” With time it becomes normal and usual. Then it transforms from “new” Alpha into Alpha, just the way things are. If the person/group is open, that opens the door to a next transition through the stages if either the problems or neurology shift. They can slide among systems into congruence. Others might be closed in a system such that their Alpha is like a box – anything on either side is invisible; it’s a house of mirrors without need for a door. And many reach a developmental peak and then become arrested there. The Alpha becomes a ceiling, though they can look to what they’ve come through to get there and it might break under extraordinary pressure. If they’re fortunate, it’s a comfortable place to be and their way of functioning is a good fit with the world they’re in.

Similar to four rooms of change.


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