Chapter 8. Models And Frameworks – Foundations for Organizational Foresight

5. Wilber’s Integral Quadrants

Ken Wilber’s Integral Philosophy is a set of valuable systems models and hypotheses around universal knowledge, human development, and social change. Good overviews can be found in A Theory of Everything (2001) and Integral Life Practice (2008). The journal Futures did a special issue on integral futures methods in 2008.

One of Wilber’s central models is the Integral Quadrants. Pairing two particularly fundamental categorical dyads, 1. Individual vs. Collective, and 2. Interior (mental, subjective) vs Exterior (physical, objective), the Integral Quadrants offer a balanced and diverse set of perspectives on system change. As with TBL accounting and its promotion of social and environmental benefits, this model focuses attention on foresight categories that are powerful drivers of change, yet often neglected in the C-suite. The two interior categories (Intentions and Culture) can be difficult to measure, subtle, and abstract. Polling, interviews and other approaches may be needed to discover the current state and trends of relevant variables. See Hubbard, How to Measure Anything, 2014, for some good techniques.

Moving beyond this four category model, we can use the phrase Integral Foresight to describe an All Categories, All Levels (ACAL) approach to thinking and acting toward the future. An ACAL approach seeks to consider and use all the relevant categories and change processes, at all relevant system levels, perspectives, and scales, for any foresight problem. Each model has its limitations, as Wilber would point out. Having facility with multiple evidence-based and complementary models, such as those found in this guide, offers the practitioner many adaptive paths. Recognizing which models work best for which context is a function of experiment, intuition and experience.

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