Growth Spiral (Spiral Dynamics)

Gain wonderful nuggets of insight


Collaboratively investigating the behavioral systems and underlying needs of (groups of) people to gain a better understanding of your own behavior, the behavior of others and the influence of the system in which you find yourself.

Spiral dynamics is a model that describes consciousness development, on both a personal and collective level. It describes eight levels of increasing complexity and the behavioral systems that (groups of) people develop to deal with this.


Staccato explanation of the 8 behavioral systems in spiral dynamics, supported with good examples.

The book Gung HO! (Chinese for work together) uses the behavior of three totem animals as a metaphor for creating a more successful organization.

To Work

Divide the participants in groups of five or less. Give each group a deck of statements (about individual or group growth) and ask them to sort them on first appearance in development. Share the insights and compare/align the results.

One by one introduce the animals, ask for their characteristics. Then connect them to the development stages of the first exercise. Without changing the order, let the participants divide the animals in two columns, Individual and Collective.

Build up the model from bottom to top, using our floor sheets. Briefly explain what the different stages are about and connect them to the animal images. Then use the questions below to have a discussion on improving your collaboration. After each main question, ask the participants to stand with the appropriate animal(s) for each question. Then use the follow-up questions to interview a few participants and deepen the discussion.

  1. Which of these needs is most important to you? How does it help you if it is fulfilled? What is needed to fulfil it?
  2. Helping to fulfil which need gives you energy? How do you do that? Why is it important to you?
  3. Fulfilling what need drains your energy? How does this impact you? What could help you if you feel drained?
  4. Which need could be fulfilled more in this team? How would this help the team?

Agree on two or three improvement ideas to act on.


You find more useful models in our book Connective Teamwork (EN, NL). The book helps you set your team in motion with a practical 5-step plan and 20 teamwork techniques.

You can learn more about and practice techniques to improve teamwork in our Connective Team Coach Training Course.

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