A Brief Explanation of the Integral Quadrant Model
Another model for the Coach tool kit or just in general life. This model can be used to make sure that you are covering a subject from the 4 different viewpoints to better understand it and provide better coverage.
Often when a conflict occurs between two usually rational people, it is because they are arguing from different viewpoints on the model. Helping people to see the same situation from all 4 viewpoints often brings about a better understanding and provides a solution meeting the needs of everyone involved.
The model has 4 viewpoints: I, WE, IT, and ITS. Each are totally valid and no one viewpoint is better or more correct than another.
The ‘I’ viewpoint concerns the self. It is the Interior Individual perspective.
An example of different I perspectives:
Mary believes we should focus on the truth, John believes we should pay attention to what is beautiful, and I believe we should do what is right.
The ‘WE’ viewpoint focuses on the collective consciousness or Interior Plural perspective.
Examples of WE perspectives:
- We got together and co-created a collage of how we feel. We are represented here as a single viewpoint that is the aggregate of what we all believe.
- We used Lego Serious Play to co-create a model of our organisation.
- We brainstormed around a whiteboard and decided on the strategy for the next 12 months. We all had equal voice and felt safe enough to express ourselves.
It is this perspective which most people lack or are unable to replicate at scale in organisations. This is the a key viewpoint in the shift to interdependency consciousness that is required to solve large complex problems.
The ‘IT’ viewpoint focuses on things. This is the external singular perspective.
Examples of the IT perspective:
- The meeting went well as we got a lot done.
- The process is large and includes many people. Making it more efficient would be a good thing.
- Scrum is a good process because it gets products delivered with a lower risk.
The ITS perspective focuses on the external environment. It is the external plural perspective.
Example of a common organisation conflict where people have different perspectives:
Situation: The sponsor asks for long term plans with detailed feature by feature release dates over the next year and holds the team to account for whether the features are released on time. The team repeatedly run late. This has created and ‘them and us’ feeling for everyone.
Person A has the ‘I’ perspective solution:
The sponsor needs to realise that complex adaptive work cannot be predicted and switch their mindset to the first Agile Mindset belief. The team needs to explain this to the sponsor and shift from giving predictions that they cannot meet.
Person B has the ‘WE’ perspective solution:
The team and the sponsor work together to explain their needs and the situation and work together to cocreate a solution that works for everyone. Communication is paramount and worry and stress are discussed as a phenomenon / information of the situation that is everyone’s responsibility to work through.
Person C has the ‘IT’ perspective solution:
The solution is to put up a visible Kanban board to display the current status of work and switch to a backlog prioritised in value order, so the sponsor gets what the most important items until the money runs out.
Person D has the ‘ITS’ perspective solution:
Why is the sponsor under such pressure, what are the market forces at play, and can there be something that is done to minimise this risk or pressure the sponsor is under? What support can be given to the overall environment or culture that relieves the pressure?
All the viewpoints are valid and might help. Often people argue their viewpoint which is correct, against someone else’s viewpoint which is also correct. Looking at the problem from all perspectives allows multiple people to be right and have differing viewpoints. It also allows people who might agree to consider other viewpoints that they had not considered to provide a more complete and effective solution.
The Integral model was introduced to me by Michael Spayd and Lyssa Adkins in 2013 / 2014 through their 3-day coaching class.
The original model comes from Ken Wilber.
Simon Powers is the CEO and founder of Adventures with Agile. He has over 20 years’ experience helping very large organisations to thrive in the market and to be better places to work. His approach led him to create our transformative ICAgile Certified Enterprise Agile Coaching training courses, which run worldwide and online. Simon is one of the first ICE-EC experts in the world.