The 4 Key Insights of Holistic Frameworks – An Intelligence For Planetary Survival

This blog is a companion to the interview with Christopher and Sheila Cooke on VoiceAmerica “Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations” on October 24, 2017, Navigating Through The Holistic Worldview Membrane to offer further insights into the deeper application of the science of Human Emergence. This post was written by Christopher Cooke.
The term, Human Emergence, defines a new understanding that explains how and why civilizations have shifted through 8 dominant paradigms over the past 120,000 years. Each shift can be shown to have been triggered by the inability of a given worldview to cope with increasingly complex problems. Such problems may be caused by nature, or more recently in the last 10,000 years mankind’s mismanagement of resources.

The most recent stage, the eighth stage, has become known as ‘a holistic worldview’. This worldview is an ‘intelligence for planetary survival’. It is minimalistic and seems set to ensure the recovery and regeneration of all life-forms on Earth. Compared to the conventional thinking of today this is a radical shift and whilst some individuals are increasingly able to think through problems from a holistic stance, the full utilization of this worldview is being resisted; it’s like pushing against a membrane.

One way in which this worldview is becoming visible is through the development and utilization of holistically-informed frameworks. Think of a holistic-framework as a basic structure that when applied stimulates holistically informed thinking. When such a stance is adopted it appears that decisions are made that can handle the ‘wicked problems’. This interview offered the Holistic Management Framework developed by Allan Savory as an example of a holistically-informed framework. This has been successfully applied since 1985, across contexts that range from national governance to agriculture. We also discussed how our work itself is supported by a holistically informed, Human Emergence Framework, that they have developed.

All holistically informed frameworks share the same 4 key insights. These are summarized as:

Key Insight 1: The Universe functions in wholes.
Key Insight 2: The primary principles and processes of Universe show through in all environments and life-forms, including the human body and mind.
Key Insight 3: There are biological and psychological life cycles.
Key Insight 4: Behavioral freedom varies according to stage of development.

For leadership and management today these 4 insights mean that:

1. Holism is a necessary awareness;
2. Decision making needs to consider the biological-psychological-cultural and social systems dynamics of the people and local habitat,
3. Timing is everything;
4. Solutions work when the appropriate level of thinking is applied.

One example is, using a diagnostic method from The Holistic Management Framework to help a farmer discover why a certain field had been overtaken by rushes in recent years. He had previously used the small paddock along a riverbank to graze a few sheep, and had tried a variety of different technologies to get rid of the rushes. He dug drainage ditches, cut the reeds with grass cutters, taken the animals away for long periods, and even applied herbicides.

Part way through the process that included his consideration of the health of his ecosystem, his previous decision making, the local cultural norms, and the typical technologies used in this locality, he had a big realization. He clapped his hand to his forehead and burst out laughing saying, “every technology I used naturally leads to rushes!” After further thought he said, “and you know, if you looked up on the Internet how to get rid of rushes, you would find a list of everything I tried!”

His final solution was to learn to use the animals as tools, to stimulate the growth of grass based upon a new awareness of the dynamic inter-relationship between the two species.

His discovery required the adoption of a holistic awareness; an understanding of the complex relationship between, climate, soil, plants, animals and humans; an awareness of the times of biological weakness of the grasses, rushes and animals; and the use of solutions that worked with natures flows, rather than using technologies that interfered.
Holistic thinking literally reframes everything we believe to be true!

If you wonder about your thinking and world view, we recommend you take the assessments created by 5Deep, click on shop and select Personal Emergence Bundle Assessments and Guides. This package is a great deal and Christopher and Sheila guide you through assessment use in their prior interview series with participants who took the assessments.

About the author
Christopher Cooke, (MSc. B.A. FellowRSA) is the founder and a lead consultant for 5 Deep. He is an international senior manager, consultant, coach, confidante, counsellor, therapist, trainer and qualified engineer, with over 28 years’ experience in pioneering and supporting personal and organizational change. He is focused on the release of latent human capacities to navigate gracefully through complexity, innovation and change. Christopher has become a leading figure in the practical demonstration of The Graves Technology, Spiral Dynamics, and Integral Theory since 1997. His commitment and focus has seen application in as many contexts as possible. To listen to other shows by Christopher and Sheila Cooke, check out their Voice America guest page for additional information.

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills. You can download the first three chapters of the Innovative Leadership Workbook for Emerging Leaders and Managers for free.