Doing it to Each Other or Doing it to Ourselves

Kenneth Boulding, in The World as a Total System (1985), described five modes of interaction which I have personally found very helpful in understanding what's going on in situations. There are actually eight modes described below because Michael McMaster (1995) added a sixth on during a conversation on the Learning Org List and in Dec 1999 Dan Freeman offered two additional interaction modes.

This list is written in an order which is considered to represent more and more evolved levels of interaction as one works their way down the list.

What amazed me about the different categories is how certain situations seem to be initiated in one mode and then transform into another mode. Consider what happens in a couple situations:

What seems to be most beneficial to all parties involved, and in terms of the results produced, is operating at the Integrative or Generative modes. I think groups that really become teams operate in an Integrative or Generative fashion.

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Copyright © 2004 Gene Bellinger