This is based on the work of Ken Wilber. This approach looks at 4 dimensions:
- The Individual, Internal, Subjective (I) “Upper Left”
- The Individual, External, Objective (IT) “Upper Right”
- The Collective, Internal, Subjective (WE) “Lower Left”
- The Collective, External, Objective (ITS) “Lower Right”
This model makes clear that every event or situation may be understood within each of these four dimensions. However, viewing a situation or an event through just one of these dimensions gives only a partial view. A more holistic view is obtained by understanding the issue from all four dimensions.
Individual & Interior – Mindset
The upper left quadrant pertains to the interior of the individual. This is about subjective experience as well as how we think and feel about these experiences. Ken Wilber et al explain this quadrant in the following way:
Thoughts, ideas, opinions, intentions, motivations, purpose, vision, values, worldview, and life philosophy all exist within your personal interiors. All concepts from ‘I think she likes me’ to ‘E=MC2’ are in this ‘I’ space.
In terms of academic subjects or schools of thought this quadrant has been the focus of psychologists and psychoanalysts concerned with human beings’ inner life or their development. As it refers to an individual’s particular perceptions or experiences, approaches, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, have made a contribution to our understanding of the upper left quadrant. Positive psychology, with its interest in emotional states and optimistic/pessimistic ‘explanatory styles’, also belongs in this quadrant.
Since this quadrant is also about consciousness (what it is and how it arises) philosophers have contributed enormously to our understanding of individual’s interior lives. In our approach to personal development this is where C-Me Colour Profiling, NLP and Covey’s 7 Habits exist.
Individual & External – Behaviour
From an individual’s perspective, the upper right relates to how he/she actually experiences the world through his/her five senses. So, anything to do with our individual bodies (e.g.: health) and our concrete experience of the world and our behaviour relate to this quadrant. Indeed anything about a person or thing that we can actually see belongs to the upper right quadrant. This refers, for example, to a person’s skills and strengths and weaknesses as these are usually manifest in the world.
In our approach to development this quadrant relates to the observable behaviour and language of the individual. Body Language, Verbal and Non-Verbal communication, written communication etc. The actual process of communication used by an individual. So this is about building and developing skills and competencies in the process of personal development. How a person deals with interpersonal conflict sits within this quadrant. How well can they challenge other people, how do they cope with being challenged?
The personality preferences from the Upper Left (I) quadrant impact here as we will observe the results of the preferences in action. This leads to coaching and developmental activities to adapt the observed behaviour. Behavioural assessments are typical of the activities that would fit into this Upper Right (It) quadrant.
Collective & Interior – Culture
The lower left quadrant comes into play when two ‘I’s meet and there is shared perception, connection or any emotional state generated by social interaction. ‘We’ then relates to anything where we are in relationship with others – communities, families, romantic relationships, workplaces, neighbourhoods, national sentiment and so on. The feelings generated by this ‘we’ domain can be strong yet they often go unstudied and unacknowledged.
This quadrant also relates to culture and shared beliefs as these have the power to shape perceptions not just of me as an individual but for me as a member of a ‘we’ group.
Collective & External – Structure
This quadrant refers to collections of events/things. This means that anything which is a ‘system’ belongs here such as the political, governmental, legal, health, educational systems as well as the ecosystem or planetary system. Communication networks including the mass media and the internet belong here as too does transportation and manufacturing as these are also about systems.
In our approach to development this quadrant is about any activity related to the objective assessment of the organisation. This could be governance (internal or external), standards, assessment bodies. Equally, we could include organisational plans and processes.
How do we use the 4 Dimensions?
All development programmes delivered by Seek First Ltd, all our coaching and consultancy services utilise the 4 dimensions. Providing solutions that deliver across all 4 dimensions requires a commitment from the client to consider the whole system when considering change. Our view is that a need or a weakness in a team or a group is a symptom of a wider issue. Focusing in on solving that specific issue will result in another issue somewhere else in the system. Rather than constantly chasing symptoms we prefer to address the whole system. This works out to be a more effective and efficient approach that delivers greater engagement creating more results.