The Innovative Mind - Characters & Cybernetics

Research Paper (undergraduate), 2008

40 Pages, Grade: 1,0


Table of Contents

1. Creativity, Characters and Cybernetics

2. Characters – A Result of Nature and Nurture
2.1 Going Nurture and Introducing Memes
2.2 Adding Growing Complexity and Introducing vMemes
2.2.1 The Beige vMeme
2.2.2 The Purple vMeme
2.2.3 The Red vMeme
2.2.4 The Blue vMeme
2.2.5 The Orange vMeme
2.2.6 The Green vMeme
2.2.7 The Second Tier – Yellow, Turquoise and Coral vMEMEs
2.2.8 The vMEMEs Test
2.3 The Nature of vMEMEs – Caught in a Communication Trap
2.4 Evolving Characters – A Spiral Synopsis

3. Cybernetics – A Systemic Approach
3.1 From Plain to Complex Systems
3.2 Complex Systems and Biocybernetics
3.3 Biocybernetics – Tasks and Taboos
3.4 Evolving Towards the Ideal Final Result

4. The Innovative Mind Teams Up
4.1 Innovation Teams in Companies
4.2 Companies in Innovation Networks

5. Conclusion

Table of Figures

1.1 Spiral Dynamics

1.2 Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

1.3 The Tribal Structure of a Purple vMEME Population

1.4 The Empire-Like Structure of a Red vMEME Population

1.5 Systematic Innovation & Spiral Dynamics A Non-Linear Trend of Evolution

1.6 The Strictly Hierarchic Structure of a Blue vMEME Population

1.7 The Enterprise-Like Structure of an Orange vMEME Population

1.8 The Team-Oriented Structure of a Green vMEME Population

1.9 The Interdependent System of Yellow Becomes the Holistic View of Turquoise

1.9 Plain System (Family)

2.1 Complex System (People, Commerce, Politics, Environment)

2.2 Abraham Lincoln in Low and High Resolution

2.3 Cybernetic Model

2.4 The Seven Pillars of Systematic Innovation

Table of Abbreviations

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1. Creativity, Characters and Cybernetics

As the author described in her last bachelor thesis[1], innovations are a necessity for companies in order to be successful. The required attitude – aka an innovative state of mind – is not easily reached; it often means a change of mind first.

Furthermore, the ability to innovate is closely connected with creativity. As Craig B. Wynett, Chief Creative Officer of Procter & Gamble, stated in 2007:

“The capacity to originate has become the most sought after talent of our time. There is growing consensus that human creativity has replaced scale as the defining feature of the 21 st century corporation. […] Organizations that learn how to manage for creativity will have crucial competitive advantage.”[2]

Nowadays creativity, aka the inventive constructiveness[3], is rather considered an intrinsic human talent than a unique, outstanding talent of some rare masterminds. Nevertheless, it is necessary to cultivate and train the ability to be creative. Our brain is designed to ensure survival and therefore to react fast and highly efficient. It compares situations and decides on the basis of experience. Thus it is ‘out of character‘ for our survival-trained brain to be inventive[4].

How well the ability to ‘think differently‘ is developed differs according to personality. It is also affected by the social environment and interaction of human beings.

Hence cybernetics, a scientific research area which focuses on the laws of control and regulation in technology, biology and sociology[5], will be taken into consideration within the bachelor thesis in hand.

2. Characters – A Result of Nature and Nurture

Humans differ in physical appearance as well as in personality. In the past centuries many different theses have been formulated, trying to substantiate how these two characteristics might be related or, contrariwise, are not related.

A well known example are the studies of Earnest Albert Hooton[6] (1887-1954), an American physical anthropologist. He published his studies on the measurement of criminals in 1939 (The American Criminal: An Anthropological Study), which indicate a correlation between delinquency and certain physical features.

As a matter of fact, we do associate significant physical features with certain personality traits or talents, e. g. long fingers seem to indicate a talent for music and art. The interspace between our eyes seems to imply a broad- or narrow-minded character. Yet these conjunctions are more based on hearsay, not on generally accepted academic expertise.

Additionally, there is a perseverative ‘Nature vs. Nurture’[7] discussion going on, with two ostensibly conflicting views: Followers of the ‘nature‘ perspective claim that the character of a human being, his or her talents, attributes and attitudes are a result of genetic constitution and heredity.

Supporters of the ‘nurture‘ perspective state that personality is a solely result of milieu aka the social environment and therefore completely uncoupled from genotype.

Although it is nowadays mostly acknowledged that both biological heredity and environmental conditioning carry weight, the importance of its particular influence is still discussed, especially with the newly obtained possibilities of genetic engineering and the subsequently emerging ethical questions.

In the 20th century the theory of memetics, a counterpart of genetics, was introduced. It adds to the nurture view, and will be further described in the coming-up chapter.

2.1 Going Nurture and Introducing Memes

Richard Dawkins created the term ‘meme’ in his book ‘The Selfish Gene’, first published in 1976. It is based on a Greek expression for imitation and describes a carrier of cultural information, just like genes are carriers of biological information.

“Examples of memes are tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches. Just as genes propagate themselves in the gene pool by leaping from body to body via sperms or eggs, so memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain via a process which, in the broad sense, can be called imitation.” [8]

Furthermore, Dawkins assumes that memes are replicators just like genes, and influence, even accelerate human evolution. This perspective is supported by Daniel

C. Dennett, an American philosopher:

“Cultural evolution operates many orders of magnitude faster than genetic evolution, and this is part of its role in making our species special, but it has also turned us into creatures with an entirely different outlook on life from that of other species.”[9]

Richard Dawkins’ idea attracted interest and was taken up by many other scientists. It also became a state-of-the-art expression for similar, already existing theses.

As Dawkins himself remarked in his 30th anniversary edition: “The word meme seems to be turning out to be a good meme.”[10]

The development of humanity might not be that significant in a change of phenotype (aka the physical appearance), but there are certain, noticeable changes within the behaviour of individuals (in terms of memetics, the sociotype) and subsequently, in society. How humans behave, the way challenges are met and problems are solved, keeps changing and adapting, due to cultural evolution.

At the present time, human beings have to deal with a more and more complex world. How memetics and complexity match up is to be explained in chapter 2.2.

2.2 Adding Growing Complexity and Introducing vMEMEs

The work of Clare W. Graves (1914-1986), an American professor of psychology, inspired both Don Edward Beck and Christopher C. Cowan to introduce the concept of Spiral Dynamics[11] in 1996.

This concept offers an explanatory model for the cultural evolution of individuals, organisations and societies, depending on four important aspects of life conditions: times, place, problems and circumstance.[12]

Therefore it adds to the nurture point of view (compare page 2) and embraces the theory of memetics. Anyhow, it is also well comparable to nature, where complexity increases within lifeforms from unicellular to multicellular, from amoeboids to plants and animals, because Spiral Dynamics subjoins growing complexity. To visualise the agility of the concept, a spiral was chosen as an appropriate symbol:

“A Spiral vortex best depicts this emergence of human systems as they evolve through levels of increasing complexity. Each upward turn of the spiral marks the awakening of a more elaborated version on top of what already exists.”[13]

Different colours mark different levels of awareness, which are called vMEMEs[14], an acronym for ‘value memes’. Each colour-coded level – starting with beige, purple, red, blue, orange and green on the first tier, continuing with yellow and turquoise on a second tier - distinguishes itself with certain characteristics. The upward turn requires a transition via enter and exit phases, wherein these characteristics become slightly blurred.

A newly reached level does not replace the hitherto acquired ones, which is illustrated by the cumulative diameter of the spiral. Additionally, the vMEMEs change back and forth between a self-centred and a collaborative focus.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 1.0 – Spiral Dynamics[15]

To embrace Graves’ insight accurately, it is essential to recognise that the whole process is neither fixed nor limited, quite the contrary: it is adaptive, alterable and evolving. That is why a coral stage is foretold, although it is not clearly defined yet.

It is also implied that all these levels are already there in a latent, unconscious way, as they are ‘awakened’ by suitable life conditions.

As life conditions change, the corresponding level of awareness is awakened respectively reactivated. Humans spiral up, but also down the different levels of awareness and complexity.

This process and what each vMEME stands for will be further described in the undermentioned chapters.

2.2.1 The Beige vMEME

The beige[16] vMEME stands for the least complex, most instinctive level of human existence. In simple words, it is the one to begin with. It is also called the Instinctive vMEME and comparable to the first, physiological stage of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs[17].

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 1.1 – Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs[18]

Beige – being the colour of the African savannah – compasses sense and survival, the satisfaction of essential biological needs like eating and drinking, the most ‘natural‘ state of being. This level is highly self-centred.

As mentioned before, every acquired level persists. This is also true for the instinctive level; it will be reactivated if life conditions change dramatically, for example due to war or illness. Additionally, as we start as instinctive infants, we might spiral down onto the beige level with seniority again, e. g. due to the Alzheimer’s disease.

2.2.2 The Purple vMEME

A more descriptive name for the purple[19] level is Clannish vMEME as it represents the first collaborative stage of existence, the first development of an organised commune.

On this early level of awareness, the unfathomable creates fear. What cannot be explained remains a mystery and is accounted for by spirits and the supernatural. Security and safety lies within family and tribe. Shamans, elders and chieftains are able to protect the clan, rituals are most important.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 1.2 – The Tribal Structure of a Purple vMEME Population[20]

Irrespective of the level already gained, people who experience extremely painful periods of life will look for protection in a stronger company of their family, and might seek advice and guidance in religion and spirituality.

In Christianity[21] purple symbolises pain and suffering. It is the colour for the season of Lent.

2.2.3 The Red vMEME

As the spiral zigzags through self-centred and collaborative vMEMEs, the proximate red[22] level shows most self-absorbed behaviour. Thus it is called the Egocentric vMEME. The underlying trend from beige to red is comparable to adolescence.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 1.3 – The Empire-Like Structure of a Red vMEME Population[23]

The colour red is generally associated with aggression, within the spiral it might stand for insurgency. Structures already exist, the ultimate aim is to be the top star (compare figure 1.3). Only the strong survive, power and toughness are most important. It is a quite energetic phase, with all positive and negative consequences.

People on the red level are extremely difficult to co-operate with, being enormously self-satisfied. Moreover they do not feel responsible for their actions, and will claim anyone or anything besides themselves if things do not work out the way there were intended to.

This behaviour is reflected in a certain problem solving tool of Systematic Innovation, the ‘Linear and Non-Linear Trends of Evolution’[24]. The tool offers possibilities to analyse existing and to predict new business challenges in order to innovate systematically. One of these Trends of Evolution uses the Spiral Dynamics concept to describe certain human communication difficulties.

Figure 1.4 shows which levels of providing and receiving information are a good match and may communicate effortlessly. It is stated that the red level cannot be addressed easily by other levels; the corresponding receiver column stays blank.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 1.4 – Systematic Innovation & Spiral Dynamics – A Non-Linear Trend of Evolution[25]

Nevertheless, there are ways to communicate throughout all vMEMEs which permit sensible ‘inter-vmemetic’ exchange and interaction, as will be shown in chapter 2.3.

As the liberating energy of the red stage leads to chaos and instability, people start to look for order, meaning and principles. Thus the next collaborative level is awakened.

2.2.4 The Blue vMEME

The next upward turn within the spiral awakens the blue[26] level of awareness, also called the Purposeful vMEME. In order to be purposeful, the blue level sets definite boundaries and creates cohesive societies.

The colour blue is associated with pacification and calm, but it is also regarded a chilly, offish colour shade.


[1] Bachler, Elke (2007): The Evolution of Innovation. TRIZ Trends and Bionics. Graz, University of Applied Sciences Business Studies, Bachelor Thesis. P. 1.

[2] Mann, Darrell L. (2007): Hands on Systematic Innovation for Business & Management. Second Edition. UK: Lazarus Press. Foreword.

[3] Bibliographisches Institut & F.A. Brockhaus AG (1997): Duden. Das Fremdwoerterbuch. Sixth Revised and Updated Edition. Mannheim/Berchtesgaden. P. 452f. Translation by Author.

[4] Compare: Mann, Darrell L (2007): Systematic Innovation. P. 41.

[5] Bibliographisches Institut & F.A. Brockhaus AG (1997): Duden. P. 460. Translation by Author.

[6] Compare: Garn, Stanley M./Giles, Eugene: Earnest Albert Hooton. Biographical Memoirs. [Status 2008-05-11]

[7] Compare: Powell, Kimberley: Nature vs. Nurture. Are we really born that way? [Status 2008-05-11]

[8] Dawkins, Richard (2006): The Selfish Gene. 30th Anniversary Edition. New York: Oxford University Press Inc. P. 192.

[9] Dennett, Daniel C. (1995): Darwin’s Dangerous Idea. Evolution and the Meanings of Life. New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks. P. 339.

[10] Dawkins, Richard (2006): The Selfish Gene. P. 322.

[11] Beck, Don Edward/Cowan, Christopher C. (2006): Spiral Dynamics. Mastering Values, Leadership, and Change. First Published in Paperback. Malden/Oxford/Victoria: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

[12] Compare: Beck, Don Edward/Cowan, Christopher C. (2006): Spiral Dynamics. P. 53.

[13] Beck, Don Edward/Cowan, Christopher C. (2006): Spiral Dynamics. P. 29.

[14] Beck, Don Edward/Cowan, Christopher C. (2006): Spiral Dynamics. P. 31.

[15] Illustration by Author, Acknowledgement of Snail Photo Originator: Jens Huthmann, PIXELIO

[16] Compare: Beck, Don Edward/Cowan, Christopher C. (2006): Spiral Dynamics. P. 197-202.

[17] Compare: – Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs [Status 2008-05-11]

[18] Illustration by Author

[19] Compare: Beck, Don Edward/Cowan, Christopher C. (2006): Spiral Dynamics. P. 203-214.

[20] Compare: Beck, Don Edward/Cowan, Christopher C. (2006): Spiral Dynamics. P. 141.

[21] Compare: Bratcher, Dennis: The Meaning of Church Colors. [2008-05-11]

[22] Compare: Beck, Don Edward/Cowan, Christopher C. (2006): Spiral Dynamics. P. 215-228.

[23] Compare: Beck, Don Edward/Cowan, Christopher C. (2006): Spiral Dynamics. P. 138.

[24] Compare: Mann, Darrell L. (2007): Systematic Innovation. P. 319-394.

[25] Compare: Mann, Darrell L. (2007): Systematic Innovation. P. 381.

[26] Compare: Beck, Don Edward/Cowan, Christopher C. (2006): Spiral Dynamics. P. 229-243.

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The Innovative Mind - Characters & Cybernetics
Campus02 University of Applied Sciences Graz  (Studiengang Innovationsmanagement)
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BSc. Elke Barbara Bachler (Author), 2008, The Innovative Mind - Characters & Cybernetics, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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