Sunday, August 01, 2010

Terri O'Fallon: Collapsing the Wilber-Combs Matrix: The Interpenetration of the State and Structure Stages #itc2010

Another very intriguing presentation to start the final day of the conference. I have read her papers in the past, and I am looking forward to this one - I hope I might get a better sense of her model in person.
Terri O’Fallon, Ph.D., Principal, Pacific Integral: Collapsing the Wilber Combs Matrix: The Interpenetration of the State and Structure Stages.

This presentation will cover theory, practical application and ongoing research related to the interpenetration of the structure stages and state stages depicted in the Wilber Combs Matrix. By administering the Cook-Greuter Sentence Completion Test to participants from second to sixth person perspectives and engaging in empirical behavioral observations for each level, theory arose, which prompted research in a continuous cycle of research, application and new theory. Current theory and research will be shared, which includes the concrete, subtle and causal floor/tiers of development and three levels of ego, among other levels of developmental iterating patterns. Attendee discussion is invited.

Terri O’Fallon teaches, consults, leads and conducts research on individual and collective transformative change. She is a director for Developmental Research Institute and Pacific Integral, and a certified scorer of the SCTi MAP, each of which supports her research on later levels of adult development and group developmental transformation.
For those who may not be familiar, this is the Wilber-Combs Matrix:

One of the things I like about O'Fallon's model is that it . . .
describes a consciousness roaming space for more than one person, representing how the structure stages and the state stages might interact in a person, and how people, with the different shapes of their consciousness, might share a particular consciousness space related to the intersection of the two. This view of the WC matrix brought together the “I” and the “we” (later adding the “it/s”). The later version turned into a dynamic quadratic form of the WC matrix (O’Fallon, in press b)
This is important to me because I tend more toward an intersubjective experience of higher states, rather than an individual experience.

[Post-session comments]

Phenomenal presentation. I like that she willingly admits her map is a work in progress, that she is very open to criticism, and that it is a collective creation. Very humble and non-defensive about her work.

Her presentation began with a creation myth from Aurobindo - which is also how she begins the paper - moving from the kingdom of matter, to the kingdom of plants, to the kingdom of animals, and then to the kingdom of mind. So what comes next? She says Aurobindo believes it will be as momentous as the leap from matter to plants, or plants to animals.

Her paper and presentation are an exploration of the kingdom of mind.

A quick history of states and stages:
I - 1995, SES, states stacked on top of stages
II - Wilber-Combs Matrix
III - O'Fallon's room to roam
So then we have the following lists:

Gross, Subtle, Causal, Witness, Nondual

Stages (here I think we have a mix of Cook-Greuter and Torbert, 1995 which become Terri's own model):
Opportunist, Diplomat, Expert, Achiever, Individualist, Strategist, Magician, Ironist

Terri explains these stages in a paper at the Integral Leadership Review, for those who are interested: Leadership and the Interpenetration of Structure and State Stages:A Subjective Exposé.

This stage system is based on action logics, as outlined by Torbert - however, the names are different than they were in Cook-Greuter's "Ego Development: Nine Levels of Increasing Embrace" (2005). Here is how that chart looked:

OK, then. She begins with an inquiry:
I wonder what I will find if I look closely at the patterns that seem evident in the structure stages and in the state stages?
Looking the patterns and the life experiences of her clients gave rise to the model - she repeatedly mentioned that it was the people she worked with, the scoring she was doing, that gave her this model (along with Susanne, Ken, and Allan).

Iterating Tier Patterns: Finer Distinctions in Development

The following are some of the patterns she outlined - the presentation is mostly the same as the paper, so I am not presenting too much that you cannot read in her paper (which is linked to above - and she is open to comments and feedback, her email is in the paper):
Person Perspective Patterns

1. The first person perspective is a focus on the self.
2. The second person perspective is a focus on self and other.
3. The third person perspective is a focus on an observer who can focus on another self and other(s).
4. The fourth person perspective is a focus on an observer, observing another observer, observing another self and other(s).
5. The fifth person perspective is seeing the previous pattern of observing observers observing; at the fifth person perspective, the observing can cycle from the 5th to the nth positions. (Cook Greuter, 2002)
6 . The sixth person perspective, seeing the nth perspectives, begins to step outside of those nth perspectives and begins to take a perspective using patterns of observation and perspective taking through tiers.
Her model actually goes up to 8th person perspective (7th and 8th are nondual). There are also the following patterns:
  • Time and space
  • Qualities (types?)
  • Differentiation/integration
  • Prioritizing pattern
  • Horizontal hall of mirrors
  • Polar opposite tier patterns
  • Gross, subtle, causal floor
  • Gross, subtle, causal ego
Now it gets a little confusing - hang in there - it'll make more sense when you see it visually,

1-1-1-1 Patterns: Person patterns

Time: concrete (now) self, subtle (generational) self, causal (one-time) self, nondual/eternity
Space: self - other - collective - many- infinity
Qualities ("now" qualities):
  • self/other (red)
  • concrete (amber)
  • formal (orange)
  • contexts (green)
  • constructs (teal)
  • polar opposites unite (indigo)
(Not sure what happened to turquoise in this model, and then violet, ultraviolet, and clear light - I guess those are Wilberian and not necessarily a part of Cook-Greuter or O'Fallon.)

Next up are the 1-2, 1-2, 1-2, 1-2 Patterns

Differentiation/integration: essentially transcend and include (my words)
Prioritizing: Early, hard to prioritize perspectives; Late, easier to prioritize perspectives -
Horizontal Hall of Mirrors: 2nd stage of a person's perspective, can become hypnotized by and addicted to what they have integrated (examples: 3rd order, analysis paralysis; 4th order, constructs within constructs)

1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3 Patterns

Gross, subtle, causal - floors of experience (tiers) arise at the first level of a new polar pair
  • 1st - self/other - concrete/collective (concrete floor)
  • 2nd - interior/exterior - (subtle floor)
  • 3rd - transcendent/immanent (causal floor)
The following comes from the paper because she explains this process of moving through the sub-stages of each floor/tier much better than I can (page 14 of the pdf):
  • 1st tier - progresses from (a) seeing only one side of the pole to (b) making choices between the poles to (c) choosing both (both/and) to (d) integrating the concrete self/other poles into the exterior self, and preparing for another pole to arise to balance out the exterior (with interior), which becomes the overriding polar focus for the next four levels
  • 2nd tier - Second tier, poles of subtle/concrete (interior/exterior) polar opposites arise: This progresses along the pattern until they reach the Strategist level, at which time they integrate the interior and exterior into immanence (body/mind). Immanence becomes a new end of the polar pair immanence/transcendence, which is the overriding polar pattern for the third tier.
  • 3rd tier - Third tier, poles of immanence/transcendence arise: This progresses along the four-step pattern until they reach the Illumined level, at which time, transcendence and immanence are integrated.
She asks, rhetorically, is there a subtle shadow? She suspects there might be. (I'd say there is, with little doubt in my mind.)

Finally, there are the 1-2-3-4 Patterns: Polar Opposite Patterns
  • See one side of a pole (such as at the red or amber stages)
  • See either/or
  • See both/and
  • Poles unified and become one side of the next polar opposite pair
  • senses/movement arise and unify into the exterior - interior arises to balance exterior
  • exterior/(subtle) interior - arises (right, left quadrants) and after four stages unify into immanence (somatic/body-mind/spirit)
  • immanence/transcendence - arises and after four stages unifies into non-dual
This is my feeble attempt at reproducing one of Terri's images that is not in the paper.

Iterating the Quadrants - Growing Up is Waking Up

This sort of gives a visual image for some of the above material - it's not in the paper as an image, but it helps to see it. But wait . . . there's more . . . I'm going to try to reproduce a couple of more charts, as well.

Awareness Patterns:
  • Gradients of awareness:
  • Time (none, reflective, in the moment, state)
  • Space (extending in --> out)
  • Objects of awareness: part of structure-stages, but also part of state-stages

The next chart looks at the Dark Night of the Soul through her model - this is interesting to me - I've not come across anything like this in discussion of the Dark Night.

Alright then, all of that leads to the final oh-so-cool image from Terri's paper - The Kingdom of Mind. [This image is in the paper, for those who want to really understand it, which requires actually being able to read the chart.]

Tiers/Floors (she has FOUR tiers):
  • Concrete: impulsive, opportunist, diplomat
  • Subtle: expert, achiever, individualist, strategist
  • Causal: construct-aware, catalyst, unitive, illuminative
  • Nondual: metamind, overmind, supermind

Interpenetration of State-Stages and Structure-Stages

But what about . . . . ?
  • Structure stages come from a 3rd person structural perspective and states come from a 1st person subjective perspective . . .
  • Aren't there categories and experiences in both states and structures?
[ME: This is an UL model, but I am wondering if we can do this or something similar in each of the other quadrants . . . a kind of AQAL 2.0?]
  • There may be surprises, both for us as human beings . . . .
  • and maybe an intelligent chimp!
[ME: Where do types fit in here? How would someone who relates most clearly with life in a somatic way fit into the model? Or an intellectual?]

Allan Combs - He sees a "bandwidth issue" with this model, as much as he admires the work and is intrigued by it. States are discrete in his understanding. He's uncomfortable with putting states onto stages.

Final thought from Terri - This is NOT a theory of everything, it's one perspective on the kingdom of mind.


Liz said...

Wow! This is so great, Bill! I'm really looking forward to unpacking all of this. On a brief once-over, it looks like you really captured the essence of her very challenging presentation. Special thanks for reproducing her visuals. I was sitting at the back of the room without my glasses on and couldn't see the black-on-purple text.

Geoff Fitch said...

Thanks for the great post - I've posted Terri's paper at

for anyone who would like to check it out.