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Background to the Nine Domains
An Objective Measure of Completeness for Systems
The Systems Approach Made Easier
As anyone who works with systems knows, they can be a tricky business. To predict anything useful from a holistic, systems point of view, one needs to know, first, which are the fundamental elements that make up the system as a whole. Second, one needs to know as much as possible about the various states of each of those elements. Third, one needs to know how the elements interact with each other, and fourth, one needs to know as much as possible about the various “inputs” and “outputs” from the elements and the system as a whole, as well as, fifth, the larger context that the system is embedded within. Gathering data (either quantified or intuitive) can be daunting, and one never knows if one has missed some important factor or distorted the picture by either overemphasizing or under- emphasizing an element. Such distortions are inevitable due to personal history and unconscious biases. Ideally, the study of systems (especially ones having to do with human beings) has got to be as simple and clear as possible while doing justice to the complexities of what one is studying or attempting to change in some way. Indeed, a main debate in “systems theory” has to do with whether or not it is even possible to ever obtain all of the data that one would need to be able to predict with a reasonable degree of certitude what a system would do. Since the “whole is greater than the sum of its parts” (Aristotle), and since even the parts have parts, anything with even a relative degree of complexity is probably impossible to have certitude about. Ironically, to have a full understanding of a system, one would have to know all the possible data about each and every part. To obtain that, one would virtually need to duplicate the system under study, an impossibility. For example, to be able to predict with certainty what an individual will do in a particular circumstance, one would have to know everything there is to know about the person, including all of the influences on him or her at any given moment. In other words, one would have to have more information about the person than the person has about themselves! Prediction with a high degree of certitude about human behavior is, understandably, virtually impossible. Given these problems, those interested in studying systems (especially groups of human beings such as teams and organizations of all sizes—as well as their multitudinous activities) are always looking for a way to cut through these thickets of practical and philosophical problems. There must be a way to think comprehensively about systems—that is, to approach systems from a systems level of analysis rather than from the level of trying to measure the parts that make it up.
The Nine Domains of the Enneagram
The Nine Domains Approach overcomes many of the practical challenges of a systems theory approach to interpersonal problems because it is based on the Enneagram which provides an archetypal organizing structure. The Nine Domains are a further development of the Enneagram by Don Riso based on the observation that the Enneagram itself presents us with the nine “necessary and sufficient” universal principles (or archetypes) that must be present and operative for any complete, complex system to survive and thrive. Don Riso has developed this material, although, as with many other elements of the Enneagram, Oscar Ichazo was the first to suggest that the nine points (most often equated with the personality types) could be considered as “Domains.” However, Ichazo took this idea in a very different direction than Don Riso has (for more on this, see the web link and quotation at the end of this paper.1 ) Instead of interpreting each point as indicating one of nine unique personality types of the Enneagram, the nine points can be thought of as a “Domain” for the action of one of the universal principles needed for a whole system or entity to be present and operational. Understood this way, the Enneagram can reveal the organizing principles of any complex, interdependent system on any scale.
organization.to develop one’s talents and become outstanding in some real and valuable way. not the nine personality types of the Enneagram. one could even say that the nine personality types of the Enneagram are specific examples of the more general Domains. thousands) more. and feeling that one is making a significant contribution to their welfare. the Nine Domains can be interpreted as universal archetypes that can be seen in every successful system. The Domains operate at a very high level of generalization. To put this in a slightly different way. The Nine Domains themselves are universal principles that can be easily understood and seen in everyday life. Without each Domain. “missing pieces”) of an organic. however. and Connections with others Domain 3 Need for Self-Improvement and Advancement and Recognition Domain 4 Need for Personal Meaning and the Ability to find Aesthetic Satisfaction Domain 5 Need for Knowledge and InDepth Exploration of Reality The need to feel good. if a system is distorting or completely lacking the principle (Domain) in some way. The need to feel good about oneself. such as “The Domains of Fundamental Human Needs. interdependent systems or organisms that embody the Nine Domains. biological or mechanical systems. In other words. For example.Systems which are weak or lacking in even a few of the Domains are not likely to function well or to survive for long. “What is each type really about?” The Nine Domains help us to stay focused on discovering the necessary capacities which each Domain brings to the whole. in right relations. on whatever scale we wish to consider it. to the Nine Domains of love—and many hundreds (doubtless. and thus not sustainable. The need to understand how the world works. and beauty in one’s life—as well as the ability to do something per-sonally meaningful during one’s life and work. expertise. The specificity offered by this approach enables us to find out to what degree each principle is embodied effectively. the self. having warm and personal relationships with them. well. Everyday life presents us with dozens of complex. Order. fully functioning system. not only have a better chance of surviving. Those in which all nine Domains are present and functioning well. fairness and justice. understanding. the Domains thus can be used as a “cross-check for completeness” for a system. and cared for by others leads to seeking making connection with others. from the point of view of the Enneagram personality types.functioning. logic. the whole would not be whole. and balanced with the universe. or complex activity of any type or scale. and Ethics Domain 2 Need for Personal Caring. and a respect for order and objectivity. The Domains in Practice Domains Of Fundamental Human Needs Domain 1 Need for Principles. a Nine Domains analysis can be applied to everything from designing a house. which are expressed in seemingly infinite complex ways in Nature as well as human products leads to seeking knowledge. to like and esteem oneself and to feel that others admire and value one leads to seeking to make the most of one’s potentials. Anything (organizations. to taking a vacation. Thus. its laws and principles. Interestingly. the types are the Domains on an individual and psychological level. the Domains can be considered necessary components (or conversely. All of this might well be more easily understood if we see an example. appreciated. but of growing and becoming better functioning and more robust. It is the Domains that are fundamental. individual and social activities— literally anything) that is made up of interdependent and interacting parts can be can be studied through the lens of the Nine Domainssm. and the time to study reality . blameless. and are not traits for each type. groups. to the faculties of human nature. to the elements of a good painting.” as follows. and others leads seeking to act according to objective principles. purpose. or. The need to feel loved. In practical terms. The Domains answer such fundamental questions such as: “What factors are necessary for achieving a particular goal?” “What does each Domain contribute to the whole?” “What is missing from what already exists?” “What factor is distorted or over-done in some way?” And. The need to understand oneself and one’s feelings and motivations and to take in the beautiful and transient nature of reality leads to seeking personal meaning. societies.
as well as a sense of connection with the universe as a whole leads to seeking to understand connections and thus resolve conflicts and tensions. the group or team can improve in specific. many problems that had been considered intractable or insoluble can be solved. and stimulation in one’s environment as well as in one’s mental and emotional worlds leads to seeking change. Nine. The need for peace of mind. and valuable ways. Once strengths are identified and reinforced. and solutions to problems can be designed which are highly specific for the group(s) involved. or at least greatly ameliorated. An Example of the Domains in Practice . thinking in stereotypes. This approach therefore does not focus on “quick fixes” but on perceiving and understanding the fundamental elements of the system being studied so that improvements are real and can be maintained for the long-term. It is worth noting that even though the Nine Domains are related to the Enneagram personality types. testable. Six. across the range of an entire group of any size. The hope is that with insight and understanding. and three with relating to the world (Eight. less threatening way. We find that with clarity and precision. leads to seeking ways of not depending on others. Domain 6 Need for Belonging and to Give and Receive Group Support Domain 7 Need for Variety. group. Instead. Three. of “home. variety. and Effortless Flow The need to be part of a whole larger than oneself (whether a family. grounded power. weaknesses can be addressed in a more beneficial. or organization is at any given time—and therefore to see how well it is functioning. and Seven). The need for strength. and Four). This Approach works by taking all of the highest. of taking initiatives and of acting on one’s own selfinterest for the benefit of oneself and of achieving one’s goals.” and of finding and supporting one’s like-minded comrades. a Domains analysis is relevant for a significant period of time—giving consultants and management substantial. and so forth—to name just a few of the problems of the “personality type” approach). archetypal qualities of the types into account simultaneously so that we can see how the team as a whole is embodying all significant capacities and values at any given time. Further. The Nine Domains Approach is especially valuable in business because results can be applied objectively and quickly. and steadiness amid the many changes and losses in life. The need for change. Thus. and One). not about individuals. creating self-fulfilling prophesizes. Freedom for Experimentation.in depth without interference or prejudice for the objective truth. and a sense of enjoyment and gratitude for the vast multiplicity of reality. This also increases the likelihood of benefits being sustained over a longer time-frame. Naturally. All are necessary! The Nine Domains in the Business World In the business world. not because of the subjective bias of a consultant or manager). and the ability to both defend and assert oneself even against others. given time. and Change Domain 8 Need for Self-Assertion. groundedness. arousing biases. The Domains are not based on identifying the personality types of the individuals in a team (which often causes problems such as pigeon-holing people. Harmony. Three of the Domains have to do with the individual (Two. a Domains analysis provides us with a “snap shot” of what a system is like at only a specific. three with “the other” (Five. and to detoxify the environment in whatever ways one can. the Nine Domains Approach focuses on the elements that need changing objectively (for example. of having an appetite for life. variety. team. if the situation demands it. the Nine Domains provide a way to measure how complete or comprehensive a team. and stimulation in the world of experience and ideas. the Domains are about the team itself. although since most large and small groups tend not to change quickly in fundamental ways. community. the Domains are more easily applied in the business world than the personality types. clan. and with the proper application of missing or weak or distorted Domains. Change also happens for the long-term because elements that are working well are also identified and reinforced. Independence of DecisionMaking and Action Domain 9 Need for Stability. the Nine Domains Approach emphasizes systems thinking and holistic insight—always approaching problems from the point of view of the whole. or country) so that one feels both the security and the joy of being supported by others leads to seeking situations that foster a sense of belonging. specific guidance to help bring about positive change in a reasonable amount of time.
teams. But this is too much information for this brief introduction about why the Nine Domains is so practical. allows personal freedom of expression. including time and resources which may not pay off pragmatically in the short term. Hence. instills a palpable sense that employees and clients are cared for and nurtured appropriately and consistently. and for the pleasure of interacting with one’s co-workers. Contributions are noticed regularly and rewarded in concrete ways. and encouraging. and clients— proof (in tangible ways) that people are not alone. competency.) The Domains of an Ideal Organization (“Ideal Org. There is a feeling of trust and commitment both horizontally and vertically in the organization. verbally and non-verbally. The Ideal Org. teams. However. management. Key values: truthfulness. of course. and is the subject of another Domains Chart which will be offered at the Nine Domains Facilitator’s Training. such as those provided by the Nine Domains. interested in helping others. a comprehensive. Work is clearly for a “higher good. provides clear and reasonable expectations and keeps explicit and implicit agreements. openness. Key values: originality. thereby staying “ahead of the curve” of ever-changing external conditions.”) The Ideal Org. self-assertion. In other words. Independence. unpublished materials. fairness. the enjoyment of one’s work. sympathetic. The organization encourages meaningful. The Ideal Org. The Ideal Org. and of everyone in the workplace as a whole. it also expects that everyone act responsibly and will accept the consequences of their actions. Key values: creativity. The Ideal Org. enthusiasm for the work one is doing.” or is at least something employees personally believe in and respect. allowing employees to feel valued and valuable. because of one’s personal biases and unique experiences. Key values: self-improvement. and the willingness to fight for what one believes in is essential in an ideal workplace. Naturally. acknowledging hard work and personal excellence. This would result in employee satisfaction and retention. and reassurance for everyone. The Ideal Org. Key values: reliability. supports free-ranging thought and experimentation. among other benefits. It is peaceful but engaged.” If one were given the assignment of generating a checklist of qualities that must be present in “an ideal organization. The Ideal Org. wellthought out change and the creation of new products. and changing market conditions. is able to resolve tensions created by conflicts between employees. maintains a reliable feeling of support for employees. The Ideal Org. transparency. The Ideal Org. useful. It encourages innovation and the questioning of old approaches. emotional authenticity. faithfulness to others. encourages employees to improve themselves and their skills. embody and promote as many of these qualities as well. and beneficial in the business world.” one would doubtless come up with several of the following qualities. self-disciplined. Key values: patience and harmony. (An “ideal CEO” would. Employees are encouraged to be responsible. Domain 1 Idealism Domain 2 Personal Concern Domain 3 SelfImprovement Domain 4 SelfExpression Domain 5 Knowledge Domain 6 Social Support Domain 7 Enthusiasm Domain 8 Authority Domain 9 Stability A full discussion of the theory and application of the Nine Domains will be presented at the Nine Domains Facilitator’s Training where. and conscientious and to work with a minimum of supervision. The workplace is emotionally nurturing. balanced checklist of the elements needed for an ideal organization might be more difficult to generate than one would think—unless one is guided by a set of objective principles. The Ideal Org does not rely on old answers to new problems.An example that pertains to the business world is the following “Domains Chart for an Ideal Organization. encourages the empowerment of individuals. But it is likely that. Expressions reflect human diversity and the need to be an individual within a larger group. curiosity. warm. productivity and profitability. Employees do not feel “boxed in” in any way. self-assertiveness. emotional connection. is a place of positive energy. the more it does so—providing the following Domains at a high level of quality simultaneously—an ideal work environment can be created and sustained. Key values: thoughtfulness. so that employees feel free to bring something personal and meaningful to their work. Key values: decisiveness. and that they are supported by the strength and assets of the organization itself. is able to neutralize anxieties by creating and sustaining an atmosphere of stability. . it is difficult for any company or organization to provide all of the following Domains to form an ideal workplace. among other new. participants will be given the “Full Spectrum of Being” grid of the Nine Domains Key Terms. some of the Domains would be completely overlooked. An Ideal Org. Key values: productivity. dynamic but not frantic or imbalanced in any way.
Intellectual 5. and other areas of keen interest around the world in a wide variety of situations—personal. Spiritual” As the reader can see. 1.” see Unveiling the Enneagram. For more about the Ichazo-Arica presentation of what Ichazo calls “the Domains of Consciousness. This not only breaks new ground for the Enneagram but for organizational development. organizational. Position and Authority 8. Creativity 4. The Nine Domains Group has moved from theory to practice. Social Interaction 6. from the idea of the Domains to an explicit working out of what they are and how they operate together. the issues and ideas briefly discussed in this paper are not abstract considerations about what needs to happen to use the Enneagram more effectively in business as well as in other practical ways. “The Nine Domains of Consciousness according to Ichazo's Arica Theory are the following: 1. These tests already exist and have been field-tested (and are in the process of being continually tested in “real world” circumstances). the TOLAT (Team and Organizational Assessment Tool). Laws and Moral 9. Health and Security 3. psychology. . Work and Activities 7. Sentiments 2. the language and interpretation of Ichazo’s “Domains of Consciousness” are different from what Don Riso has developed and is presenting here. and the 9DAT (Nine Domains Assessment Tool) are the basic assessments that will enable 9D Facilitators to measure the Level by Domain of a group or team’s functioning and to obtain a coherent picture of degree of functioning of all Nine Domains. communal. systems theory. In short. and academic—to name just a few that will likely be interested in the Nine Domains.One last point: the new tests.
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