Inspired by a book about Spiral Dynamics (Spiral Dynamics in Action), Astrid Drechsel-Grau started looking for an organization to educate her on this subject. She’d been working as a team leader at a bank in Switzerland for some time by then. Allard de Ranitz came to her attention, offering tailored personal learning journeys based on Spiral Dynamics. In their first online conversation, in the midst of corona lockdowns, she expressed her needs and Allard explained his way of working. Astrid wasn’t interested in acquiring another degree as such; what she wanted was to bridge the gap between theory and real life, thus gaining lived experience.
Based on their first conversation, Allard developed a personal plan for Astrid, tailored to her experience, knowledge and skills. Besides having Spiral Dynamics integral as the framework for this journey, Allard also integrated parts of Transition Dynamics and True Purpose.
Spread over a period of 3 years, Astrid and Allard completed the journey together, which consisted of three stages. Every stage was evaluated, so that each subsequent chapter could be even more carefully tailored to Astrid’s personal and professional development. At the end of the journey, Astrid had learned how to apply Spiral Dynamics more autonomously, enabling her to design any follow-up journeys herself.
In every online meeting Allard made sure all levels of learning were involved: mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. He designed brief feedback loops, encouraging Astrid to apply the newly acquired knowledge immediately. During this ongoing process they explored and evaluated every question and practical situation together, based on equivalence.
Recurring elements in Astrid’s Personal Learning Journey were:
- involving all levels of learning: mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically
- using Spiral Dynamics Integral (SDi) to get to know her own personal value memes / drivers and work with these in relation to her context
- working with SDi in a team and having an organizational perspective for analyzing and identifying where the team, the patterns and parts are at, so as to design and apply the right interventions
- organizing with SDi as a means of changing the business, through Transition Dynamics (TD) and specific change-management elements applicable to the situation
- discovering her Personal Purpose, using parts of the True Purpose Method
- applying SDi and TD as a means of defining, running and mastering change
- certification on SDi level 1&2
“Starting this process is a courageous thing. You have to be open, curious, willing to be vulnerable so you can lean into it a little. There was a moment when I felt my team was actually moving backwards. Allard reminded me that I needed to appreciate what’s present. He invited me to consider what my team needed and to trust we were still moving into the right direction. It’s not about my speed, it’s about the speed of the team, or the situation. Things will happen. Maybe not in the way I would have done it, but that’s fine.”
The reflection time and skills Allard provided were very helpful to Astrid from the start. By being asked how she reacted in daily work situations and how she felt, she was made to reflect on this. After just one or two sessions Astrid already started asking these questions herself. At the end of the day, she would sit down and ask: What did I attempt? What went well? What do I see and feel now? This newly acquired awareness and the ability to zoom in and out are now tools Astrid uses daily. She knows when to let go, when to intervene and she feels comfortable and confident doing so.
Spiral Dynamics in daily life
Applying Spiral Dynamics in daily life has enabled Astrid to see, hear and sense where someone is ‘on the Spiral’. She intuitively chooses words that resonate with the values important to her team and that fit the daily practice of a bank operating globally. For example, when insecurity is holding a team back, she gives the team what they need in order to feel relaxed and move on.
Open to change
Working with Transition Dynamics made Astrid realize the importance of the context in which people are working. A system is not always open to change. For example, when her team was still very much rooted in the past, Astrid provided closure before moving on to the next step.
More than ever before, Astrid now asks for feedback. It helps her stay aligned with her purpose. Discovering her purpose has been a journey in itself. Now that she knows her essence and strengths, she is able to stay calm and true to herself, even though the majority of people work in a different way.
Variety in leadership styles
When it comes to leadership, Astrid now has a variety of options. If she needs to be directive, she will be. If the person before her benefits more from a coaching style, she will be a coach. And when someone needs to be challenged, she’ll challenge. This kind of flexibility comes in very handy, since Astrid is now leading three very diverse teams.
“I approached my new job in a completely different way. Curious, exploring. Before doing anything else, I really want to understand the topics and how people work here. I felt like a little girl entering a completely new space with a lot to discover. Three years ago I wouldn’t have been able to be so open, to say ‘let’s see what happens’. In my previous jobs I felt like I had to prove myself, bringing my ideas and skills to the table from day one. Now I’m much more relaxed and realize my role is a different one.”