Integral economics

Q. What is meant by integral economics?

A. Integral theory is a theory initiated by Ken Wilber, which looks at how the many maps of the human experience integrate into one theory. Integral economics is a way of approaching economics that looks at it through the AQAL , All Quadrants All Levels lens. Meaning there are developmental stages or levels that a society can move through. At each level the society has a way of doing economics, of redistributing resources to where it is needed. And meaning that we look at all four quadrants of economics – the interior individual, the interior collective, the exterior individual, and the exterior collective.

Q. What type of economic systems are there?

A. Some of the more well-known ones are capitalism, communism, and gift economies. There are many variations and hybrids of these basic systems.

Q. What is a stage?

A. Wilber originally looked at stages in terms of individual development. And noted that an individual can be at various levels of development. The place where they are most often at, their center of gravity so to speak, is the stage they are at. In terms of social systems, they too are theorized to exist at various stages.

Q. Is there a connection between individual stages and social stages?

A. In Spiral Dynamics which was a theory invented by Don Beck, it is postulated that when the individuals in a society reach a certain stage of consciousness there is a corresponding social system stage that arises. So there is a correspondence. In Ken Wilber’s integral theory, different lines of development in an individual do not all have to be at the same level so e.g. an individual can be at different moral, emotional, cognitive levels. In the four quadrant model the suggestion is that there is correspondence between the individual and collective.

Q. Is there a relationship between stages and complex systems theory?

A. In complex system there are states of equilibrium, where the system will return to when perturbed. A stage might be described as those places of equilibrium in a complex social system.

Q. How does this apply to economics?

A. Certain economic systems may be unstable at certain stages of development. If you place a collective of people and gave them a set of economic rules they had to follow and they were not able to follow them, then that system is a nonequilibrium state for that collective. If they were able to live with those rules then that is an equilibrium state for the system.

Do you need a boss to know what to do? : Non-hierarchical governance part IV

Its one of the basic assumptions most of us have about work – that we need managers and bosses to make sure everyone does their job, to figure out who does what and when, and to coordinate everyone. The feeling is that if we don’t have a boss we will goof off, that if we don’t have a head to project manage, then it will be a chaotic mess.

But there is arising now in the workplace many examples to show that this seemingly basic assumption is not necessarily one we need to make. There are companies and organizations where the people decide themselves what they want to do. Gore, a company that makes spandex, for instance does not have managers tell people what projects they should work on. Instead people can suggest projects, and also join projects that interest them. Studies have shown that Gore workers are happier, and that the company does better than similar companies who use more normal management methods.

Agile Scrum project management is a process where a list is made of what needs to be done, and people figure out for themselves what to do. Projects are organized in terms of sprints, where a list of things needed to be done by a certain time is made, and everyone self-organizes to do so. Then when that sprint is done, a new sprint is organized with a new list of needs. Over time the teams get better and better at self-organizing, anticipating each other, and figuring out how to help each other.

At festivals like the Rainbow gathering which are free, where people bring food to share with everyone, and where people pitch in to help where they can, there is no often no sign of bosses. Instead what happens is someone may carry around a sign saying they need help cooking at that moment, and someone walking around the festival then dives in and helps out.

Non-hierarchical governance part I

Non-hierarchical governance part II

Non-hierarchical governance part III

How would you bring 300 of the world’s religions together into an organization?

William Swing was wanted to bring the worlds religions together to create more peace, and end religious violence. When he approached the leaders of different religions to come together to create a collaborative organization, none of them wanted to do it. When he talked to the average person in the religion, they were more willing to work with other religions, but they were hesitant about having a leader who was associated with any particular religion. And he was also faced with the problem that when people of different religions get together they often get into big ethical fights.

So what was the solution? He, along with others, guided the collective in a process called Appreciative Inquiry. In this process the participants focus on what the religions could do together, as opposed to focusing on their differences. And they created a non-hierarchical organizational structure based on chaordic principles. 300 religions over a period of 3 years came together to create a charter for what they believed in. Each town, city could organize its own United Religion Initiative chapter, called Cooperation Circles, which were autonomous, self-run, and self-funded. They did not have to answer to an organization above, they only had to follow the rules of the charter. Different circles would come together with neighboring circles to collaborate. There were also larger global gatherings of all the circles. Today there are over 600 Cooperation Circles in over 80 countries of the world, and has done significant work in bridging the different religions.

How to launch viral social cause awareness campaign

1. Create structure that allows for individual participation

2. Use a platform that makes participation visible.

3. Create structure that allows for peer to peer (p2p) participation

4. Coach and hand-hold people (one-on-one) to guide them to participate

5. At a critical mass of participants, and enough energy around peer to peer participation the campaign takes on a life of it own, self-organizing, and going viral.


As an example lets say the idea is to get people to help the homeless by offering the homeless money in return for helping with chores or tasks.

1. The structure for individual participation is that everyone can participate in this by offering money for work.

2. Create a platform where people can share how they did this. So for instance start a facebook group where people can post stories and pics of what they did. Or create a youtube channel where people can film the interaction with the homeless (with the homeless person’s permission). Or create a catchy twitter hashtag like #hiringhomeless for people involved in the project to use.

3. There are levels of p2p (peer-to-peer) interaction. A low level one would be if people retweet each others #hiringhomeless tweet.

A higher level of p2p interaction would be if the campaign could also ask people to partner up with others, to put together their money for a weeks worth of jobs. When people ask others to help them then there is p2p participation.

p2p participation means that the campaign is being spread by the people themselves, the word does not have to come from you the originator of the campaign.

4. Initially one may have to hand-hold and coax people one-on-one to offer homeless money in exchange for chores/work, and then to post to social media about it. One may even writeup the story for them, or help them film it. If the idea is to have people work in groups to help the homeless, for that to come to fruition may require a lot of help from you.

5. Its ok to spend a bit of time coaching people a bit of time at first. It may seem like a large investment. You may have to coach 10 or 15 people to do this. But when you get enough people involved in the project, and they are sharing it with others, the project will start taking off on its own, and you wont have to spend much time at all with people to get them involved

Democracy I and Democracy II

Democracy I is where people argue and try to persuade people to follow their views. People fall into different camps. The camps then go to intellectual and emotional ‘battle’ against each other. Then the people vote.

Democracy II is where people listen emphatically to the needs and views of each other, find common ground, and seek solutions that work for all. Then the people vote.

authors note: After I posted this, I thought Democracy I could be called Divisional Democracy. Divisional II could be called Integrative Democracy.

How to make your project more open collaborative

Here are questions to think about to make your project more open collaborative:

1. Have you found people with a similar vision as yours?

2. Have you created a rapid prototype of your project. If so, what is it? If not, what might a rapid prototype be?

3. If you have created a rapid prototype of the project with collaborators, have you and some of these people created a next iteration of the project?

4. Are you helping satisfying individual needs?

5. Are you finding ways for individual passions to flower?

6. Have you created feedback loops so that you can find out how prototypes and iterations of your project has landed? If so, what are those feedback loops? If no,t what might they be?

7. Have you created a process that enables users of your project to co-develop the next iterations of it with you? If so, what is this process? If not, what might this process be?

8. Have you enabled a process which allows people to play multiple roles?

9. How well have you connected people with each other?

10. Have you created a safe space where people can listen and empathize with each other?

11. Do you have a facilitated discussion process that allows everyone to participate in the discussion? Core project people as well as more peripheral people.

12. Do you have facilitated discussion processes which allow a diversity of opinions and belief systems to be expressed?

13. Do you have a facilitated discussion processes which can assess, synthesize and integrate different choices, viewpoints, and opinions?

14. Has your project facilitated autonomous groups to form? If not how might you facilitate these groups to form in your project?

15. Have you created a way for outsiders to become participants in your project?

16. Have you created a gradation scale of ways people can become more and more involved in your project? If so, what are these gradation of steps? If not, what might the steps be?

17. Do you have sandboxes where people can experiment around with parts of the project without fear of failure?

18. Do you have a way of incubating new ideas and projects? If not, how might you encourage that in your project?

19. Do you have metrics with which everyone can track to measure progress in the project?

20. Have you created a platform where people can constantly communicate with each other? What does this platform look like?

21. Have you created a culture that inspires people to communicate more compassionately and non-violently?

22. Are you using restorative justice rather than punishment in your group? What does this process look like for your project?

23. Are you creating a shared pool of resources that everyone can tap into?

24. Are you creating non-owned products and services?

25. Do you have ways that can allow people to gift? If not, how might you do so?

26. Are people listening to what the collective field is asking to emerge?

Open Collaboration

Open collaboration is about involving everyone in the process. Its a way that can be applied to how we do projects, how we create social change. 

Open collaboration is:

nonhierarchical (vs hierarchical)
open (vs closed)
emergent (vs planned)
nonowned (vs owned)
participatory (vs watching)

Examples of open collaboration : 
Wikipedia (vs traditional encyclopedia)
Burning Man, (vs hierarchically organized festivals)
Open source software (vs Microsoft).

How to build an open colllaboration project:

A. Create a structure that allows for participation
B. Help individual passions flower
C. Rapidly prototype, get immediate yields
D. Use your own outputs
E. Iterate, swing in people like a whirlpool with each iteration
F. Open feedback loops
G. Connect people with each other, create social networks, have
multiple informational channels open, have honeybees who
crosspollinate different sectors and groups
H. Listen to each other, empathise with each others needs and emotions
I. Play multiple roles
J. Anticipate each other
K. Find interesting problems and projects
L. Remix, build on projects and ideas of other people
M. Enable diversity
N. Have facilitation processes for disagreements, synthesis and group creativity
O. Allow individual autonomy
P. Create autonomous guilds/groups of participants who support each other
Q. Create gradations for involvement
R. Have sandboxes where people can experiment in
S. Incubate people and groups who can start off new centers of the project
T. Listen to what the collective field is asking to emerge
U. Have processes that allow people to paradigm shift when emergence happens
V. Be in alignment with natural earth flow of materials
W. Be in alignment with people’s health and consciousness