There are many psychometric assessments on the market today. Let’s name a few of the more famous ones:

Myers Briggs Type Indicator MBTI, based on Carl Gustav Jung’s typology, with 16 types along the dichotomies of

  • introversion vs. extraversion
  • intuition vs. sensory
  • thinking vs. feeling
  • perceiving vs. judging

The Enneagram, based of the work of Georges I. Gurdjieff, with 9 types along base motivations or survival strategies in three centres of thinking

  • heart: 2 helper, 3 achiever, 4 individualist
  • head: 5 observer, 6 loyal sceptic, 7 enthusiast
  • gut: 8 challenger, 9 peacemaker, 1 reformer

CliftonStrengths, based on the work of Donald Clifton and Gallup, with 34 innate talent themes in 4 domains

  • strategic thinking
  • relationship building
  • influencing
  • execution

DISC, based on the work of Moulton Marston, with 4 behavioural styles

  • Dominant
  • Inspiring
  • Supportive
  • Cautious

Spiral Dynamics, based on the work of Clare W. Graves and Don Beck, with at the time 9 value memes of the evolution of human consciousness

  • beige: survival
  • purple: safety, magic
  • red: power, dominance
  • blue: order, right & wrong
  • orange: autonomy, achievement
  • green: approval, equality, community
  • yellow: adaptability, integration
  • turquoise: compassion, oneness
  • coral: yet to come

But there is a crucial difference between the first four assessments and the last.

Let’s start with the last one.

Spiral Dynamics describes a path of development both humanity as well as a single individual undertake in their evolutionary growth.

Each stages, level, or as they are called in the theory, vMeme for value memes knows how to deal with life’s circumstances it is faced with.

If those circumstances change, people must adjust and become more conscious of new problems and capable of solving them, while not losing, but integrating the old values and solutions.

  • People with a purple tribal value system, looking for safety in the group, need some more tools when getting into conflict with other such groups. The red warrior consciousness evolves.
  • The same is true for individuals: small children in the purple safety of their family start to develop an adventurous, red egotistical consciousness, necessary to make decisions, not losing the bond with the family that allows for this in the first place.

Each of the vMeme changes can be explained by such changes in life circumstances and the responds brought forth.

Rarely a person will outgrow the most complex vMeme in their surrounding society. Let’s name a few, and since I am a pastor in real life, I will depend on the biblical narrative for most of them:

  • Adam and Eve’s eyes were opened and they saw that they were naked. This describes humanity going from beige proto-consciousness to purple tribal consciousness.
  • Abraham was told to leave his town and family. This describes the change from purple tribal to red adventure and power consciousness.
  • Pharao and Moses: first Moses defeated Pharao in a power struggle (if there ever was one), and then God gave Moses the ten commandments. This describes the shift from red power to blue order and hierarchy consciousness.
  • Luther along with others like Zwingli, Calvin, Erasmus of Rotterdam created the notion of the individual. This describes the shift from blue hierarchy and one truth to orange autonomy, achievement and personal success consciousness.

Such a developmental model is called vertical. It describes the growth of humanity and individuals towards more complexity of thinking, with each stage causing problems that cannot be solved with the kind of thinking that they were produced.

Again, let me give you some examples:

  • The red warrior and power vMeme produced tyrants that could only be tamed by a law given by a higher instance such that even the tyrant had to obey. Power gods were replaced by a monotheistic God.
  • Climate change and the destruction of our environment cannot be solved using the methods of orange technology created for personal success, seeking autonomy and achievement. Climate change was brought to our attention by green, but climate change is a problem so complex that it needs the yellow integral solutions of every vMeme in sync to be solved.

Now that we have a grip of such a vertical assessment, what are horizontal assessments then?

Horizontal assessments measure and compare the individuals within one vMeme. Since those assessments were born from psychology, and psychology is a child of the green vMeme, they usually were formed around the values of approval, equality in diversity, self-awareness and self-actualisation, and community.

Some of them, like CliftonStrengths and MBTI, work into the layer of orange, linking green self-knowledge and growth to efficiency in teamwork and personal success.

Some of them have even been adapted for blue environments like churches, giving people an idea about where to fit into the hierarchy of the system.

MBTI focusses mostly on orange, CliftonStrengths on blue, orange, and green, while DISC is often seen in blue and orange, and the Enneagram in blue and green, since it is to spiritual or esoteric for orange to value it.

Horizontal assessments often lose their value in other vMemes. Some can be adjusted through those vMemes with evolving definitions of their types.

Let’s develop the Enneagram type 5 through the vMemes of Spiral Dynamics.

  • Purple 5: The Sage/The Ascetic
  • Red 5: The Sage/The Wizard
  • Blue 5: The Sage/The Teacher of the one Truth
  • Orange 5: The Sage/The Investigator
  • Green 5: The Sage/The Professor
  • Yellow 5: The Sage/The accompanying Mentor
  • Turquoise 5: The Sage/The Integrative Self

As you can see, a 5 does have the same qualities of a sage, but develops them through the vMemes depending on life’s circumstances.

The same is possible for the Enneagram and CliftonStrengths, as Chris Heinz showed in one of his posts for the achiever talent theme.

  • Tasks around ideal processes and systems (Angel Achiever)
  • Tasks that help others (Good Samaritan)
  • Tasks that are impossible (Super Stamina)
  • Tasks that express individuality (Prolific Creator)
  • Tasks that absorb, preserve, and (sometimes) use gained knowledge (Rare Find)
  • Tasks that secure trust and collaboration (Safety Officer)
  • Tasks of fun and adventure (Trailer Blazer)
  • Tasks that make an impact (Shock Waves)
  • Tasks that keep everyone happy (Eager Pacifier)

And them again for CliftonStrengths and Spiral Dynamics, shown here with the learner talent theme.

  • Beige: in survival mode, there is no learning or teaching
  • Purple: seeks knowledge from wise and elders and accepts things at face value as well as sees magic connections.
  • Red: learns through teal and error, seeks instant reward and wants to avoid shame. Consequences are ignored.
  • Blue: likes to be “fed” abstract realities and needs absolute truth. Learns to contribute to the order of things and avoid upsetting rulers and God. Teachers are authorities in traditional school environment.
  • Orange: learns to be successful. Driven by market and demand, wants to have credentials to gain advantage. Teachers are experts and coaches in universities and business.
  • Green: learns to upset the system. Values non-hierarchical team-oriented learning environment with life coaches.
  • Yellow: desires to be a generalist with self-paced learning and individual curriculums. Teachers are mentors that accompany others, reflectors and learning facilitators. Yellow chooses a competent coach and accepts her guidance within the context of coaching, while remaining autonomous.

In my coaching, I am using CliftonStrengths, the Enneagram, and Spiral Dynamics to develop a well rounded picture of the person I am coaching.

You will get your strengths and how to apply them successfully as well as deal with your weaknesses from CliftonStrengths Full 34 Report.

You will know your motivations, survival strategies, dark and golden shadows from the Enneagram.

And you will get to know your individual chord of vMemes with your center of gravity, the worldview you are acting from.