Did you know that the Enneagram can also be used as a change management system? Many know the Enneagram as a personality system, but that is just scratching the surface of this remarkably powerful tool. In this video, I explain how I discovered the Enneagram approach to change management and organizational problem solving. I have used this approach with clients, and it is so effective and powerful I was compelled to write the book Teamwork 9.0 and share how the Enneagram serves as a change management system.
Excerpt from Teamwork 9.0
My exploration of Enneagram-based problem solving began with a simple question: The Enneagram numbers imply an order, so why is the Perfectionist the 1, the Helper 2, the Achiever 3, and so on? The order seemed arbitrary. For instance, why couldn’t the whole circle be rotated so that the Perfectionist is Type 3? I asked one of my Enneagram mentors, who told me that the specific order of the Enneagram types is important and referred me to a book by Klausbernd Vollmar.
Vollmar’s book, titled The Secret of Enneagrams: Mapping the Personality, asserts that the Enneagram describes flows of energies. He goes on to explain that there is a specific sequence to those energy flows in the numerical order of the Enneagram types.
Having a background in science and engineering, I have used many different problem-solving methods; for example, the scientific method. I noticed a pattern between the steps in problem-solving methods and the numerical order of the dynamics of the Enneagram. The Enneagram numbers describe the order of the steps by which humans solve problems. With that epiphany, the number assignments on the Enneagram now made perfect sense.
Using the language of problem solving, the dynamics associated with each Enneagram type can be described as follows:
Step 1: Problem-Goal. Identify the problems, define the goals.
Step 2: Stakeholder Identification. Recruit a committed team.
Step 3: Ideation. Generate ideas for solutions.
Step 4: Emotional Reaction. Assess reactions to each of the ideas.
Step 5: Logical Analysis. Study and score promising ideas.
Step 6: Planning. Select the most promising idea and build an action plan.
Step 7: Promotion. Passionately promote the plan, get approval to proceed.
Step 8: Implementation. Execute the plan, solve the problem!
Step 9: Integration. Confirm the problem is solved with all stakeholders.
Using the Enneagram as a framework for solving problems highlights how each Enneagram type is attuned to a particular step in the problem-solving process. There is a one-to-one mapping between the Enneagram types and the steps in the process. It seems that humans instinctively know how to solve problems as a team, and the Enneagram describes that methodology.
Do you use a structured approach to organizational development and organization change management? How does your change management approach link team members’ interpersonal dynamics with the change management process? How have you incorporated continuous improvement into your change management system?
I had a question. Why is the Enneagram Type 1, the 1? Why is Type 2, the 2? And so on. Why couldn’t Type 1 be the 7, and Type 5 be the 3? It turns out that the number assignment is not arbitrary. There’s a specific reason for that order. The numbers represent the order of a process. In fact, it’s the order in which humans solve problems. The problem solving nature of the Enneagram is described by the outer circle. Each of the nine Enneagram dynamics describes a specific step in problem solving. This use of the Enneagram is not commonly known or understood, which is why I was compelled to write my book, Teamwork 9.0, and share my discovery with you here.
The aspect I love about this problem-solving framework is that there’s a direct link between each step in problem solving to a specific personality dynamic that is particularly suited for that step. Now more than ever, organizations are being challenged with threats that require everyone in the organization to collaborate and find new ways to survive and thrive working on the business, not just in the business. Using a step-by-step approach to problem solving, you can get your team to focus on the challenges and invent a new path forward.
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