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Most partnerships (in whatever sector) are built on aligning the ‘partners’ around power plays, answering questions such as:-
- Who’s got the power
- Who wants to do what?
- Who will back me/us doing what I/we want to do and what will I/we give in return?
These kinds of partnerships are usually characterised by sub-alliances, back-biting and horse-trading. Partnerships built on genuine consensus are usually considerably more sophisticated but can be slow in the extreme to build. They are then often characterised by some form of consensual dogma to which all the ‘partners’ are locked in, whether the dogma is effective or not.
What distinguishes the MeshWORK approach is that the partnership is built on what might be described as ‘meta-principles’ which are universal. The point of a MeshWORK is to address the needs/wants of all levels of the Spiral in all ways for the good of the Spiral as a whole.
At a partnership level, this produces two key questions:-
- What needs to be done?
- Who is most suited to do it?
Using the vMEMES of the Gravesian approach and concepts from related models takes personality and emotion out of partnerships and focuses instead on need, understanding and capability.
Spiral Dynamics co-developer Don Beck demonstrated this application when, in the early-mid 1990s, he took race out of politics for many of the leading South African politicians – see Don Beck & South Africa. A MeshWORK aligns partners to devise interventions which are targeted at the values of the people for whom they are intended – whereas ‘conventional partnerships’ tend to design interventions which reflect the values of the intervention designers.
4Q/8L is a particularly effective tool for taking a structural approach to MeshWORK analysis and development.