Understanding our World

Half full

How we perceive the world, understand it and respond to it is largely determined by our level of Consciousness – an overarching concept of development that encapsulates all our beliefs, motivations, values, intelligences and worldviews. Put simply, it is the width, breadth and depth of our awareness of both the surrounding world and our inner selves – The more conscious we are, the more expansive, extensive and complex is our reality and our connection with it.

The evolution of Human Consciousness has been the subject of extensive scientific research over many years, producing countless theories and interpretations. In recent times, much of that collective information has converged into a small number of widely accepted developmental models that accurately describe this fundamental and ongoing movement within our species.

Based on these published works, our own studies and extensive personal experience, Barefoot Leadership has sought to develop a new, practical application for this otherwise academic knowledge within contemporary corporate environments. What we have come up with has generated revealing insights into the levels of current global organisational evolution and their profound resultant implications. And not just for business, but the world at large.

Within the context of what we have previously described, Organisational Consciousness is the state of knowing or awareness an organisation has of both their external surroundings and their internal operations. These can include influences such as market trends, environmental factors, societal conditions and changing technologies (external) and company culture, staff morale, productivity levels, effectiveness of systems and change strategies (internal).

Our particular interest here is that not only do individuals move through a predictable sequence of evolutionary consciousness “waves” but human organisations do exactly the same thing – and each wave or level of consciousness sees, responds to and relates to our world in very different ways.

Right now, both our society in general and the business world are in the midst of escalating, pervasive and often dramatic dimensions of change. And transformational change…not just transitional shifts. To keep up, our corporations have to match and indeed get ahead of the change process if they hope to survive. What many companies are finding is that the change management programs and trainings they are employing are simply not working. And it is often hard to understand why.

We believe it is has to do with consciousness – of our leadership, of the businesses they create and of our society.

The inspired (and scientifically validated) works of Don Beck and Christopher Gowan (Spiral Dynamics) and Ken Wilber (Integral Theory) tell the story of how our “organisational structures and systems” progressively move through a series of consciousness-based levels or waves. Each has typical characteristics and qualities and is expressed through a predictable model of operation (independent of culture or ethnic origins).

Every respective new “wave” evolves from its predecessor when the old model no longer adequately serves the majority of people at that level. It is this pressure that initiates genuine and necessary transformation.

As mentioned above, this is an area of study that has long remained largely academic and is only now beginning to penetrate into the corporate world with viable, relevant and practical applications. Ironically, bringing this information into the conscious awareness of the business community is the very thing that can accelerate the evolution of that conscious awareness – along with all the fundamental implications such a shift will inevitably generate. But because it sits outside the consciousness of many business leaders, they do not have the capacity to see it for what it is.

Our Model – The ORCA Matrix ™

The levels outlined below and their core characteristics are a simplified extract from our ORCA model. 99% of the human population, along with our organisations, currently operate from these 5 levels of organisational consciousness:

RED “IMPULSIVE” Level – Egocentric and power driven. Management and control through power, centralised decision making and unchallenged authority.

ORANGE “CONFORMING” Level – Traditionalistic and conservative. Multi-layered power structure. A primary focus on compliance through strongly enforced systems, rules and policies, risk averse.

YELLOW “ACHIEVING” Level – Success orientated, ambitious, competitive, innovative. Power through achievement and status symbols. Efficiency and profit direct all activity. Process and project driven.

GREEN “PLURALISTIC” Level – Cooperative, values driven, focus on people, objectives with meaning. Cultivating company culture is paramount; team work and healthy relationships essential for achieving results.

BLUE “INCLUSIVE” Level – Purpose driven, inspiring, co-creative. Clear purpose that benefits wider society; organisation built on individual strengths used in a collective effort to realise organisational vision. Continuous learning and flexibility in roles.  *Current leading edge of human organisational consciousness evolution.

It is important to note that irrespective of the level we, or our business is at, we retain the potential to respond from “lower” levels at all times. And in stressful situations, we (and our organisations) often do. But, it’s about what level we “live” or “operate” at the majority of the time. This is what will most significantly impact our surrounding business environment.

Key Considerations

  1. Any level of development is okay if that level suits the organisational purpose and supports its realisation. If the ‘fit for purpose’ is not there however, the organisation is ultimately not able to sustain any level of success and typically experiences existential struggles. Without intervention, sooner or later it will cease to exist.
  2.  We do not just move from one level to the next and leave it behind – the evolution of consciousness is an expansion into new possibility that embraces and takes with it all previous potentials.
  3.  Individuals and organisations do not all evolve at the same rate – at this time, 99% of human consciousness (individual and organisational) is spread across five evolutionary levels. And in terms of global politics and decision making, this is a major challenge.
  4.  What we are not conscious of, we do not see – neither within us…nor around us. And it is not until we evolve to the 5th of these levels that we intuitively understand we are the product of everything that has gone before.
  5.  When we cannot consciously understand or embrace a “bigger’ or “deeper” idea, we will attempt to fit it into our current context and scope of knowing. Then, we will usually dismiss it because in that context, it isn’t seen as useful or simply doesn’t make sense.
  6.  The consciousness level of a business cannot evolve beyond that of its leadership.

When we observe the many layers and levels of conflict happening in our world at the moment (whether cultural, values-based, political, religious or legislative), it is often difficult to understand how leaders and their followers can possibly hold a certain position or support a particular idea. Ultimately however, it’s not about right vs wrong or even good vs bad – it’s the underlying consciousness of the people involved and the worldview they accordingly hold that determines their outlook and what they stand for.

What does that mean in this time of escalating chaos and accelerating change? The only real solution is for all of us, both individually and our organisations, to become more conscious, deepen our awareness of what is really going on and begin responding in new, more effective ways.


If you’re serious, you’ll know where to start.

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