This is a post in my series on organizing ”between and beyond.” Other posts are here. The purpose of this post is to explore Don Edward Beck and Christopher C. Cowan’s notion of memes.
Memes and ˇMEMEs
Beck and Cowan introduce the notions of memes (rhymes with themes) in their book on Spiral Dynamics.1 They also introduce the notion of ˇMEMEs.
A meme is a value system, and a ˇMEME is a values-attracting meta-meme.2
A ˇMEME reflects a valuing system, an organizing principle, a belief structure, and a way of thinking.3 It represents a core intelligence that directs human behavior.4 Core intelligences exist like strange attractors below our values, beliefs, and ethical structures.5
A ˇMEME impacts upon all life choices as a decision-making framework.6 It is a structure for thinking, not just a set of values, ideas, or causes.7 The emergence of thinking systems is from lesser to greater complexity.8
Human nature includes a capacity for new ˇMEMEs to awaken without eliminating old ones.9 Shifting Life Conditions activate ˇMEMEs.10 Life Conditions consist of Times, Place, Problems, and Circumstances.11 All ˇMEMEs coexist as mixtures,12 and cluster in tiers of six.13
Beck and Cowan’s Spiral is forged by a pendulum-like alternation between me-ˇMEMEs and we-ˇMEMEs.14 The Spiral’s central core is represented by eight ˇMEMEs: BEIGE, PURPLE, RED, BLUE, ORANGE, GREEN, YELLOW, and TURQUOISE.15 ˇMEMEs change along an OPEN-ARRESTED-CLOSED continuum.16
Spiral leadership consists of System Wizards, Change Wizards, and Spiral Wizards,17 and involves Politeness, Openness, and Autocracy.18 Spiral leadership adapts different people and situation with different ˇMEMEs.19 Spiral Alignment obliges managers to align their planning into a single stream-like flow.20 Spiral Wizards manage the whole ˇMEMEs spectrum, all at once.21
Spiral Integration includes three kinds of Spiral Templates, which are organic, living layers that fuse together, stretch, adjust and mesh.22 There are Workflow Templates, Management Templates, and Command Intelligences Templates.23 The latter are like the CPU in a computer.24
I think that Beck and Cowan’s notions of memes and ˇMEMEs are powerful as value systems and structures for thinking, but I wonder within what mixture of ˇMEMEs the book itself has been written.
1 Beck & Cowan, Spiral Dynamics: Mastering Values, Leadership, and Change (Blackwell Publishing, 1st published 1996, 1st published as paperback 2006).
2 Ibid., p. 4.
8 Ibid., p. 5.
10 Ibid., pp. 4–5.
11 Ibid., p. 5.
16 Ibid., p. 6.
17 Ibid., p. 7.
18 Ibid., p. 8.
21 Ibid., p. 9.
22 Ibid., pp. 9–10.
23 Ibid., p. 10.