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The American integral philosopher Ken Wilber (15) synthesized Spiral Dynamics, together with more than 100 other developing models. He refers to value systems as waves or levels of development. These waves are almost like different frequencies and can blend and interweave like the colours of the rainbow. Ken Wilber and Don Beck connected on overlaps in their approaches and a branch of spiral dynamics called Spiral Dynamics Integral was developed by Beck. Wilber (16) explained:

Ken Wilber's Four Quadrants

Figure 8.1 Ken Wilber's Four Quadrants

What our awareness delivers to us is set in cultural contexts and many other kinds of contexts that cause an interpretation and a construction of our perceptions before they even reach our awareness. So what we call real or what we think of as given is actually constructed – it's part of a worldview.

The Indian sage Sri Aurobindo (see Chapter 7), the sociologist Pitirim Sorokin (17) and the philosopher-linguist Jean Gebser (18) largely influenced Ken Wilber's thoughts according to Carter Phipps (19) who recently published an intriguing book called Evolutionaries. Phipps continues to explain that especially Gebser's emphasis on the structures of consciousness and culture is central to Wilber's philosophy. Wilber's "four quadrants" in Figure 8.1 below, was incorporated by Don Beck into the Spiral Dynamics Integral stream.

Wilber indicated that spiral dynamics are relatively easy to use and described the Gravesian value systems as eight distinct waves of consciousness. The first six levels can, according to him, be described as subsistence levels or first-tier thinking. A revolutionary shift happens in consciousness as the second-tier evolve. The second tier is described as "being-levels". He argues that second-tier thinking is needed to lead the human evolution. According to him less than 2 per cent of the population falls in this category. We now turn to Laubscher's human niches.


"Human niches" was a term coined by Loraine Laubscher after years of applying the spiral dynamics theory in Africa and other developing countries. She is not in agreement with the popular belief that "Beige" (Survival Sense) (see 8.3.1. below) is not visible anymore and that only 10 per cent of the population is "Purple" (Kin Spirit). According to her, this figure is closer to 50 per cent worldwide. The term, "human niches", describes the areas in which people excel because of the questions of existence they pose – thus their thinking systems. By understanding the different thinking systems, the unique gifts of a person or culture can be appreciated.

Colinvaux (20) defines a niche as a specific set of capabilities for extracting resources, for surviving hazards, and for competing, coupled with a corresponding set of needs. This definition, however, does not take into account the thinking pattern of the individual. He explains that our niches are what have changed since ancient times. We are no longer hunters or gatherers, but have become farmers and industrialists. Laubscher adopted the concept of human niches by taking this thinking further. It is our thinking patterns that have changed over time, and new thinking patterns have led to new and different realities. The renowned originator of "lateral thinking" De Bono (21) also began to speak about thinking systems.

Laubscher, then, has dedicated her life to studying thinking patterns in the brain that create human niches. She is the only African who worked with Clare Graves personally. She translates human niches through value engineering and value circles. A value circle is an inclusive group process that focuses on group problem solving while integrating value management and human niche theory. Together with Don Beck, she impacted many a South African leader's worldview forever; not to speak of the numerous "Purple" people that she inspired over the years.

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