Third Generation Gravesians

The Wisdom of Prof. Clare W. Graves (1914-1986), Applied

Public Communicative Engagement and Conscious Evolution of Human Social Systems
Bjarni S. Jonsson
Adizes Graduate School
Dissertation Signature Page –
Approved by:
Adizes Graduate School Doctoral Committee Members:
Bruce LaRue, Chair: _____________________
Don E. Beck: _____________________
Eugene Kritski: _____________________
External Doctoral Committee Members: The Adizes Graduate School would like to express its appreciation to the following individuals for graciously and thoughtfully sharing their perspective and knowledge in consultation to the Committee and the Student throughout the research project:
Gudbjorg Andrea Jonsdottir: _____________________
Thorlakur Karlsson: _____________________
Subject Advisors to Committee:
The Adizes Graduate School would like to express its gratitude to the following individuals for generously contributing their subject expertise to assure accuracy in interpretation of theory and/or with regard to methodical application.
Kjetil Sandermoen on the subject of Adizes Methodology, theory and application.
Don Beck, Ph.D. on the subject of Spiral Dynamics, theory and application.
Iceland was devastated by the financial crisis of 2008, suffering a total collapse of its national banking system. The following year, amid riots unprecedented in the country’s long history, 1,200 citizens gathered to engage in constructive dialogue and visioning for the restoration of their homeland. This National Assembly was so successful that many similar events were subsequently organized, including one called for by Iceland‘s Parliament specifically to initiate the reformation of its National Constitution. This paper explores the extent to which a structured dialogue process involving a large cross-section of a defined social system may facilitate visioning for and natural development of that system, contributing to its conscious evolution and natural design. The methodology, structure, and outcome of this inquiry process are examined, including how the patterns of dialogue emerge and their potential significance in facilitating positive change in human social systems. Potential policy implications are studied, as well as technological developments that could open new dimensions for electronic collaboration in the Assembly Process. It is argued that the process has wide area of applicability within human social systems as a visioning tool for a wide range of issues within various types of organizations and communities. The overall purpose of this dissertation is to serve as both a platform for and further motivation to scholar practitioners to further research and develop methodologies, tools, and techniques to engage those who are subject to socioeconomic forces shape those very forces toward the greater good.
Table of Contents
List of Figures ............................................................................................................................. 6
1.0 Public Communicative Engagement in Social Issues ..................................................... 11
2.0 Purpose of This Study .................................................................................................... 19
2.1 The Nature and Intent of the Study........................................................................... 19
2.2 The Research Question ............................................................................................ 20
2.3 The Research Context .............................................................................................. 21
2.4 The Role of Conflict in Social Evolution.................................................................. 23
2.5 The Research Opportunity ....................................................................................... 29
2.6 The Assembly Process ............................................................................................. 30
2.7 Interpretative Interaction and the Action Imperative ................................................. 31
2.8 Summary and Conclusion ........................................................................................ 34
3.0 The Dialogue and Its Theoretical Underpinnings ........................................................... 36
3.1 The Constructivist Paradigm .................................................................................... 36
3.2 Participatory Action Research .................................................................................. 39
3.3 Public Spheres and Dialogue .................................................................................... 42
3.4 The Metaphor of Social Autopoiesis ........................................................................ 44
3.5 The Effects on Social Learning ................................................................................ 46
4.0 Research Activities ........................................................................................................ 49
4.1 The Research Team ................................................................................................. 49
4.2 Developing a Working Relationship......................................................................... 49
4.3 Formulating the Inquiry ........................................................................................... 53
4.4 Inviting Participants ................................................................................................. 54
5.0 Data Collection and Analysis ......................................................................................... 57
5.1 Data Collection and Categorization .......................................................................... 57
5.2 Data Analysis: Detecting the Collective Wisdom ..................................................... 58
5.3 Categorization, Organization, and Accessibility ....................................................... 64
5.4 Summary: Making Scholarly Contributions ............................................................. 64
6.0 The Assembly and Social Evolution .............................................................................. 66
6.1 Significance and Framework for Analyzing Life Conditions .................................... 70
6.2 The Human Capacity and Priority Codes ................................................................. 86
6.3 Analysis of the Priority Codes and Ways of Thinking in Iceland .............................. 91
6.4 The Beliefs and Behavior Point of View ................................................................ 100
7.0. Communicative Engagement and Transformative Action ................................................. 103
7.1 Forming a Vision for the Human Social System of Iceland .................................... 103
7.2 The Potential of Communicative Engagement for Social Analysis and Visioning... 107
7.3 The Nation’s Values .............................................................................................. 108
7.4 A Model for Intervention Emerging from the Data and its Categories .................... 109
7.5 Place ...................................................................................................................... 111
7.6 Culture ................................................................................................................... 112
7.7 Human Factors....................................................................................................... 113
7.8 Governance ............................................................................................................ 114
7.9 Business ................................................................................................................ 114
7.10 Assembly Data and the Social Stratification Model ................................................ 115
8.0 Strategic Intervention in Large-Scale Social Systems ................................................... 121
8.1 Detecting the Interconnectedness ........................................................................... 122
8.2 Evolution and Change ............................................................................................ 131
9.0 Areas for Further Research .......................................................................................... 137
9.1 Research Opportunities Relating to the Assembly Process ..................................... 137
9.2 Techniques for Further Research ............................................................................ 138
9.3 Transferring an Assembly’s Outcome to Policymaking .......................................... 139
10. General Applicability of Large-Scale Communicative Engagement ................................... 140
11. Summary and Conclusions ................................................................................................ 142
References .............................................................................................................................. 149
Appendix A: Global Values Monitor ....................................................................................... 156
Appendix B: Step-by-Step Overview of the National Assembly .............................................. 166
Appendix C: National Assembly Facilitators’ Guide ............................................................... 174
Appendix D: Culture Values Assessment ................................................................................ 196
Appendix E: 2009 National Assembly Main Conclusions ........................................................ 232
List of Figures
Figure 1. The Conscious Social Evolution model ..................................................................... 16
Figure 2. Repeating pattern of evolution ................................................................................... 27
Figure 3. Dialogue versus discussion ........................................................................................ 44
Figure 4. Age profile of the 2009 Iceland National Assembly ................................................... 56
Figure 5. Conscious Social Evolution model ............................................................................ 68
Figure 6. Upper left quadrant of Conscious Social Evolution model ......................................... 71
Figure 7. The lifecycles of an organization ............................................................................... 72
Figure 8. Typical challenges and problems at the Go-Go stage ................................................. 78
Figure 9. Level of trust toward Icelandic public institutions 2002–2010 ................................... 79
Figure 10. The situation as perceived by Icelanders in 2007 ..................................................... 83
Figure 11. Comparison of Icelanders’ perceptions 2007 and 2009 ............................................ 85
Figure 12. Upper right quadrant of Conscious Social Evolution model ..................................... 86
Figure 13. Dynamics within human systems ............................................................................. 87
Figure 14. Circular self-referential relationships within human systems.................................... 89
Figure 15. Overview of vMemes or priority codes .................................................................... 93
Figure 16. Human response to life conditions ........................................................................... 95
Figure 17. Direction of change in the Icelandic way of thinking 2007....................................... 96
Figure 18. Priority codes in order of importance to Icelanders 2007 ......................................... 97
Figure 19. Direction of change in the Icelandic way of thinking 2009....................................... 98
Figure 20. Priority codes in order of importance to Icelanders 2009 ......................................... 99
Figure 21. Icelanders’ impressions of their society’s mentality ............................................... 101
Figure 22. Lower right quadrant of Conscious Social Evolution model ................................... 104
Figure 23. Levels of social complexity over time.................................................................... 106
Figure 24. The Social Stratification model: forces of social evolution..................................... 111
Figure 25. A vision for Iceland using the Social Stratification model ...................................... 120
Figure 26. Lower left quadrant of Conscious Social Evolution model ..................................... 122
Figure 27. The Strategy Triangle ............................................................................................ 124
Figure 28. An example of critical path for a more sustainable evolution ................................. 126
Figure 29. Interdependencies of sample objectives ................................................................. 128
Figure 30. Sample strategic objectives from 2009 Assembly .................................................. 129
Figure 31. Possible combinations of sample strategic objectives .............................................. 131
Figure 32. The CAPI Theory .................................................................................................. 132
Figure 33. CAPI Theory applied to the rewriting of Iceland’s Constitution ............................. 134
Figure 34. The XYZ Template ............................................................................................... 136
Figure 35. Words used to describe Thinking Process event in Scotland ................................... 147
Figure 36. The working area.................................................................................................... 167
Figure 37. Organization of the meeting room .......................................................................... 168
Figure 38. Organization of data ............................................................................................... 171
I have many people to thank for their help and support in the writing this dissertation, which truly has been a journey of discovery and emergence.
My wife, Björg Kristjansdottir, has put up with me using much of my spare time working on the project. On many trips and holidays, the computer was always at hand and the work mixed into what should have been our time of relaxation. Her encouragement and support have been invaluable.
Dr. Bruce LaRue has relentlessly guided me throughout the process, taking the time and effort to help me develop the concept and structure of this paper. Dr. LaRue has extensive experience in consulting with executives and managers in aerospace, the US Department of Defense, wireless telecommunications, network technologies, financial services, municipal and national government, and the non-profit sector. He co-authored the book Leading Organizations from the Inside Out (LaRue, Childs, & Larson, 2006) and has extensive experience in large-scale transformation projects. The long conversations we have had in his home, here in Iceland, and by telephone have contributed greatly to the development of this work.
It has been a great privilege having Dr. Don E. Beck as my mentor and inspirator since we first met in November 2004. He has been the key developer of Clare W. Graves’ theories of human emergence and co-authored the key reference book in this field, Spiral Dynamics: Mastering Values, Leadership and Change. He has worked with many corporate and political leaders during his many years of operating in the field of human system emergence. He was involved with Nelson Mandela and the South African government in abolishing apartheid, and has most recently worked with leaders in the Middle East to find alternative solutions to the difficult problems encountered in the Israel/Palestine situation. He has been there for me in a
totally unselfish and supportive manner. In critical moments he has sent me provoking and sometimes mind-boggling remarks and thoughts, which have turned into new discoveries time after time. His greatest contribution has without a doubt been the inspiration and encouragement that led me to take on the venture of promoting a large-scale citizen dialogue in Iceland: the 2009 National Assembly, the key focus of this paper.
I am also deeply grateful to the other doctoral committee members: Dr. Gudbjorg Andrea Jonsdottir, director of the Social Science Research Institute at the University of Iceland; Dr. Thorlakur Karlsson, Associate Professor of Psychology at Reykjavik University; Dr. Eugene Kritski, Vice President of Methodology at GlobeScan, adjunct faculty at Adizes Institute, and professorial lecturer at George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management; and Kjetil Sandermoen, senior partner at Adizes Institute and one of the most experienced practitioners of Dr. Ichak Adizes’ organizational lifecycles methodology. I am grateful for the time and effort they put into reviewing my work and their many constructive and vital recommendations.
During the last five years I have cooperated with Richard Barrett, who has written extensively about values-based leadership and recently publishing his latest book: Love, Fear and the Destiny of Nations. I have participated in the National Values Coalition, a group of practitioners using his values test methodology for national values research. That cooperation directly contributed to developing the concepts in this paper.
I have also been fortunate to enjoy the support of Dr. Kai-Holger Müller and Thomas Lehr from the Parmenides Foundation, Center for Applied Thinking in Germany, for having granted me a research license for the EIDOSTM software, which was instrumental in showing
how a relatively complex set of qualitative data could be processed to form a basis for strategic intervention.
Stephanie Galindo at the Adizes Graduate School has been a great support since I began the doctoral program at the school. She has provided both gentle push and support when needed and assisted me in conceiving the first version of this paper.
I have Brenda LaRue to thank for her relentless work and patience in turning my thoughts into correct form, in proper language, making it readable as well as up to standard. Her professionalism and attention to detail were first class in every respect, and I consider myself privileged to have had the opportunity to benefit from her work.
The national dialogue events that are the central theme of this paper would not have happened without the collaboration of the strong-minded and resourceful members of the original Anthill Group. The Anthill made the first Iceland National Assembly come to life in November 2009. Anthill members Gudjon Mar Gudjonsson and Larus Ymir Oskarsson were my closest methodological collaborators, leading to a fruitful co-creation of the process and its refinement when preparing for the 2010 Constitutional Assembly.
1.0 Public Communicative Engagement in Social Issues
This dissertation focuses on a citizens’ communicative engagement called the National Assembly, held in Iceland in November of 2009 and again in 2010, involving in each case a random sample of Iceland’s citizens. The research question explored is, “Can a model be defined to manage public communicative engagement facilitating conscious evolution in a social system?”
Discussion will also cover the Assemblies’ role in Iceland’s changing social conditions, particularly those resulting from the national banking system’s collapse during the worldwide financial crisis of 2008. The 2009 National Assembly involved citizens engaged in a dialogue on shared identity, values, and vision for the Icelandic nation. In 2010, the Parliament called for a similar event to initiate a process for rewriting the Constitution of Iceland.
I was a major contributor to the development and management of both events and a co-developer of the methodology applied in both instances. The purpose of this research is to discuss the Assembly Process, place it in the context of the situation, and explore its potential in contributing to conscious and constructive social evolution in any given human social system.
The research rests on the following assumptions, justified by literary sources and my own research activities:
1. Individuals in a social system interact with their environment based on their worldview and culture, resulting in a co-creation of what can be defined as life conditions.
2. They will attempt to fulfill their basic human needs using means aligned with their values and belief systems.
3. Constructive development of a human social system should be tailored to its collective intellectual capacity.
4. Properly evaluating the system’s collective intelligence requires an authentic public space, sufficient and representative diversity of subjects, and proven methods of qualitative inquiry.
5. New policies and suggestions for action are more likely to be accepted if grounded in the social system’s core intelligence.
The underlying thesis is that these assumptions hold for every kind of human social system. They are components of the model for conscious social evolution shown in Figure 1 below and further discussed in this paper. Although the assumptions are reinforced by literary sources, they require further testing in other social contexts to demonstrate their validity and generalizability.
I will present evidence that the Assembly Process, developed with the aid of Participatory Action Research and Grounded Theory as discussed in Section 5.1 of this paper, can establish a base for unity within a given social system. Maturana and Varela (1987) outlined the importance of interpersonal communication within a human system to its unity and growth. An authentic public sphere, in which participants can express their thoughts in a safe and uncritical environment, is necessary for social learning and to harness collective intelligence. This enables genuine joint meaning-making through sharing of experience and storytelling, resulting in a representative view of the desired identity, values, and vision. Maturana and Varela (1987) argued that human social systems belong to a class of meta systems which “consist of aggregates of autonomous unities that can be cellular or meta cellular” (p. 198). Furthermore, they claimed that the nature of human social systems differs fundamentally from that of a living organism,
although belonging to the same class of meta system. A crucial factor distinguishing human social systems from other meta systems, apart from the degree of internal autonomy, is language. Therefore, as Maturana and Varela stated, “the identity of human social systems depends on the conservation of adaption of human beings not only as organisms (in a general sense) but also as components of their linguistic domains” (p. 198).
The assumption that any human social system must grow and develop on its own terms is guided by the Spiral Dynamics Theory (1974), originated by the late Dr. Clare W. Graves, former professor emeritus of psychology at Union College, New York. The theory was further developed by Dr. Don E. Beck, who with Christopher Cowan described it in their book Spiral Dynamics: Mastering Values, Leadership and Change (Beck & Cowan, 1996). Spiral Dynamics assumes human emergence as an open-ended evolution, occurring in stages according to the complexity of prevailing life conditions.
The essence of Dr. Graves’ theories can best be articulated in his own words (Beck & Cowan, 1996):
Briefly, what I am proposing is that the psychology of the mature human being is an unfolding, emerging oscillating spiraling process marked by progressive subordination of older, lower-order behavior systems to newer, higher order systems as man‘s existential problems change. (p. 28)
Another significant theory supporting the above assumptions is the concept of lifecycles of living systems (Adizes, 1999). It holds that a human social system’s evolutionary level may be gauged by studying its problems of existence (its level of unity or disintegration, and therefore the degree of adaptation to its environment) and framed in terms of its position in a lifecycle. Maturana and Varela (1987) stated that, when a destructive interaction between a living being
and its environment occurs, the former disintegrates and loses its ability to adapt (p. 102). Adizes pointed out that lifecycle stages could be classified as either growth or aging. Many problems of existence experienced during the growth era are normal, while some could be abnormal or pathological. On the other hand, all problems of existence experienced in the aging part of the lifecycle are, by definition, abnormal or pathological; the system is disintegrating from the environment and ultimately within itself, losing its adaptation. Adizes’ theory of organizational lifecycles is further discussed in Section 6 of this paper.
Maturana and Varela (1987) defined this dynamic of human social system adaptation as structural coupling, an important concept in what is to follow. It is not only a question of coupling or adaptation between the system and its environment, called second order coupling by Maturana and Varela, but a structural coupling within the components of the system itself, called third order coupling. Third order is a structural coupling among the system’s components that leads to their unity.
Another important factor in the adaptation of living organisms is autopoiesis. This concept was first developed by Maturana and Varela, who stated that living systems are characterized by three principal features: autonomy, circularity, and self-reference, which enable them to self-create or self-renew through closed systems of relations (Morgan, 2006, p. 242).
Figure 1 is a management model based on the premise that a living system must either adapt to its environment or be unable to cope with the constant environmental change, eventually ceasing to exist in its present form. The adaptation is a highly complex dynamic, and due to the inherent autonomy of the system components, cannot be managed in the traditional sense. Although some may claim that it would be best to leave this complex system alone, I argue that such evolution of human social systems should not be left to chance or be willfully unconscious.
Although there are many historical events that justify this argument, it is sufficient to refer to the financial crisis of 2008.
It would be highly arrogant to maintain that Conscious Social Evolution model has the capability of managing change within a human social system. On the other hand, the objective of this paper is to contribute to the understanding of the evolution of human social systems and the significance of a constructive communicative engagement centered around shared vision and superordinate goals. The argument of this thesis is that detecting evolution of human social systems and strengthening awareness and social learning among the components (citizens) will steer it toward a healthy evolution from one level of existence to another.
Figure 1 summarizes all of the elements of this paper. At the core is the assumption that every human system has a collective intelligence steering it along its evolutionary path. This paper will address harnessing collective intelligence within the context of the Assembly Process. The upper half of the model addresses the human system’s situation analysis—its life conditions or problems of existence—and its capacity for dealing with these conditions.
Figure 1. The Conscious Social Evolution model
The analytical framework includes Adizes’ Lifecycle Theory (1999) to examine the problems of existence, the Global Values Monitor (Appendix A) to evaluate response mechanisms and mental capacities, and a national values test administered in August of 2008 (Appendix D).
Section 7 explores the implications of the lower right quadrant of the model, where the intelligence harnessed by the Assembly Process is expressed in terms of desired future state, and how that relates to respondents’ beliefs and attitudes. Section 8 outlines the vision that emerged
from the Assembly; the visionary highlights chosen by the participants are studied using an analysis model that emerged from the data.
The last sections explore tools that enable a holistic approach to systemic intervention. The nature and importance of coalescing authority, power, and influence (CAPI) are discussed as they relate to the evolutionary process.
The colored arrows in Figure 1 illustrate the human system evolutionary process as explained by its originator, the late Dr. Clare W. Graves (Beck & Cowan, 1996):
Briefly, what I am proposing is that the psychology of the mature human being is an unfolding, emerging oscillating spiraling process marked by progressive subordination of older, lower-order behavior systems to newer, higher order systems as man’s existential problems change. (p. 28)
The path as shown by the colored arrows is described as follows, starting at the top with Identity:
 Assume a scenario in which the system is fully congruent with its environment (“perfect life”), resulting in favorable life conditions. The identity would be clear (I am who I am, doing what I want to and am best at, etc.), resulting in the system operating from a position of confidence.
 This would lead to a healthy and constructive expression of its values through its priority codes, corresponding to the basic needs of the human system.
 This is followed by sensible, balanced beliefs and attitudes and a clear vision or superordinate goal.
 Combined with appropriate values and beliefs, this would lead to optimal alignment of structure and systems, steering appropriate actions to successfully cope with the current level of complexity and further reinforcing success of the system.
 This would result in a new dimension or depth to the identity, which is now ready for a new level of existence.
If there is a change in life conditions manifesting itself in disintegration of the structural coupling between the human social system and its environment, the situation becomes the reverse. These changes can occur rather suddenly, such as in a war or natural disaster, but they could also be a gradual imbalance. Such changes inevitably affect the identity of the system, resulting in fear, insecurity, and denial. Going through the prevailing priority codes in this state, the system would tend to express its values in a limited or negative fashion, such as corruption, short-term thinking, blame, and so on. The beliefs and attitudes would then distort the common vision, which would lose its superordinate nature and become fragmented, leading to further disintegration within the structural elements of the system, and on it would go.
Although this study focuses primarily on the lower right quadrant of the model, it also deliberates on the points gathered through the communicative engagement for alignment of structure and systems, according to the lower left quadrant.
2.0 Purpose of This Study
2.1 The Nature and Intent of the Study
The main purpose of this study is to investigate how to harness the wisdom of crowds for evolutionary design of human social systems to cope with new life conditions in large-scale human systems such as nation states. The object of this study is the Assembly Process, an event involving around 1,200 people chosen as a random sample from the National Registry of Iceland. The event and its outcome are studied in light of the actual social context in which it took place and are treated as an integral part of that context. The sample was composed of 1,237 participants, including invitees from the government and primary national institutions. The Assembly Process was developed by a grass-root organization called The Anthill, of which I was a member and significant contributor to the Process development team. The objective of this study is to capture and deliberate on the overall experience gained from a large-scale public discourse event dealing with general social evolution and specific subject matters that will be described in this paper.
The basic research methodologies in those events were based on Participatory Action Research and Grounded Theory. The setting was what has been termed an “authentic public sphere” (McNiff & Whitehead, 2009, p. 180), as will be discussed later in this paper.
It must be clearly articulated that this study is not an empirical test of whether the conclusion of this diverse group represents “the will of the nation.” It will be argued, however, that the Process provides a holistic vision for the future of Iceland based on how the society and its institutions could meet citizens’ needs, thus qualifying as a step in the right direction.
A further purpose of this study is to give insight into the integrity and practicability of the Assembly Process as a management tool to facilitate holistic visioning and create momentum for action and change in any given human social system
Integrating the public, or the members of any system for that matter, into dialogue and deliberation in times of great crisis is argued to be a significant factor contributing to restoration and transformation of the human system.
2.2 The Research Question
The research question is formulated as follows:
“How can a model be defined to manage public communicative engagement facilitating conscious evolution in a social system such as Iceland following the economic collapse of 2008, and what are the implications of such a model for large-scale social change in other social contexts?” This involves the question: “Can citizens’ visionary thinking for their society mitigate social conflict and provide shared superordinate goals, within their culture’s current state of evolution?”
Social unrest and moral conflicts are inherent in human systems because of their diversity. Many countries experienced conflicts in the aftermath of the financial crash of 2008. There are currently serious conflicts and social unrest in many of the Arab countries in North Africa and the Middle East. The objective of this paper is to contribute to the improvement of restorative, transformative public discourse and the understanding of dynamics and evolution of human systems, specifically macrosystems such as cities, states, and nation states. As a practitioner in this field, I have already applied the process in corporate and social settings, with promising results.
2.3 The Research Context
The underlying motivation for this study originates from my own background where management consulting, coupled with corporate and social research, is the core of my practice. Professionally, my focus has been on integrating these two disciplines to provide better management insight and tools for managing the performance and well-being of organizations. The ambition of this project is to do the same on a macro level. From what I've seen so far, research dealing with the complexity of social systems appears to be fragmented, with little or no attention paid to the total system implications of certain social phenomena. It also appears that the nature of a social system is different from that of a corporate system in that the functions of corporations differ from the elements of a nation state due to systemic and sub-systemic factors. I have studied in great length literature and references dealing with the social system through lenses of psychology, sociology, ethnography, history, political science, management, and more to find references relevant to a model for a more holistic view of such systems.
Having been a part of the organizing body for the events being studied in this paper poses a risk of an insider bias, which must be taken into account. It is also important to state that my membership in the social system and culture studied in this paper can cause a bias in analyzing current life conditions and the underlying cultural context. Hence, cohesive frameworks for analysis are used to highlight the situation in terms of human system theories rather than relying purely on my own judgment. My background as a corporate management consultant also potentially causes bias regarding the approaches and frameworks presented and the general assumptions behind systemic intervention in human social systems. Due to my own background, the focus is more on the leadership aspect based on systems thinking, while it is to be assumed that analysis from the point of view of the other disciplines will not be as in-depth.
Iceland, among other countries, experienced a severe economic crash in 2008 resulting in total collapse of the country’s financial system. Some say that the repercussions are not yet fully realized, but the most immediate ones are loss of assets, unemployment, increased poverty, and the resulting hopelessness that further reinforced anger and resentment toward the political and corporate systems. In the wake of this crisis, disintegration and lack of trust in the governmental system became evident.1 These issues could make it very difficult to form a basis for future governance that is significantly different from that of the past.
This study is based on my experience in diagnosing and prescribing treatment for, and managing intervention processes within, corporations and industries over the last 15 years. The work is based on the Corporate Lifecycles theory developed by Dr. Ichak Adizes, which I have found to provide comprehensible answers to complex issues. In later years I was exposed to another, complementary theory: Spiral Dynamics, which was originally developed by the late Clare W. Graves, Professor Emeritus at Union College, New York, and further developed by other scholars and thinkers, most notably Dr. Don E. Beck. This theory opens doors to understanding the cultural development and dynamics of human systems. I have found that, jointly, these complementary methodologies provide multidimensional insight into the current state of human systems and provide tools to enhance the well-being of these systems. The intention is to explore these and similar theories and methodologies for an integrative approach for diagnosis of issues within large-scale social systems.
Both Adizes and Beck have applied their theories in a macro context to governing entities, and this study explores how similar thinking is applicable to larger-scale social systems as well. Within Spiral Dynamics, for example, the Global Values Monitor has been used in Dr.
1 Capacent Gallup, National Pulse, March 2010
Beck’s organization, Spiral Dynamics Integral, to assess the cultural evolution of societies and to provide insight into the development of macrosystems.
I have also become familiar with Richard Barrett’s work regarding national values analysis as outlined in his most recent book, Love, Fear and the Destiny of Nations (2012). Originally developed to measure values within organizations, the methodology has recently been applied to measuring national values. For the last four years, I have participated in the development of the methodology of measuring values and analyzing on a national scale. This analysis is, in many ways, complementary to the above methodologies (Barrett, 2006).
In the corporate world, many approaches and methodologies have been developed to improve the performance of the organization. In general, my conclusion is that, whatever methods are applied, the basis for improvement lies in proper diagnostics and understanding of the system being improved. Thus, the diagnostics would seem to be the most important aspect to understand in any change and intervention. Based on the similarities in human systems of various scales, diagnostic and change methodologies may have been applied somewhat interchangeably to macro, meso and micro environments. However, I feel that more research is needed to develop integrative methods for total system design of larger, more complex macrosystems; this could be termed natural design in that it would fit the culture and worldview of the human system, allowing it to evolve on its own terms.
2.4 The Role of Conflict in Social Evolution
In light of the research question and context, whereby social change and transformation are usually coupled with social unrest or citizens’ discontent with status quo, it is relevant to discuss in some detail the source and nature of social conflict. The relevance is eminent since the focus of this study is how a structured, integrative, public discourse using qualitative research
methodologies can establish a constructive evolutionary pathway and thus mitigate social conflict in times of crisis. In other words, is there a potential to harness the negative energy as a constructive force in restorative and evolutionary transformation of social systems?
Since the financial crisis of 2008, we have seen a growing array of social and moral conflicts resulting in tension and frustration among citizens of the countries involved. Just recently, the development in the Arab world seems a clear example of how built-in social tension breaks out in the form of protests and conflicts. All this seems to point to a growing desire for change on behalf of the citizens. This desire for change should be channeled to promote a constructive evolution for the good of the system through tools that can foster respect and trust among citizens and their respective institutions.
Conflict has been with us from the beginning of mankind and “is a theme that has occupied the thinking of man more than any other, save only God and love” (Schmidt & Tannenbaum, 2000, p. 25). We grew up listening to stories and watching movies where the “good” and the “bad” were at war; we usually took sides and were relieved to reach the happy ending where the “good” won, or were angry when the author left us with the feeling that the victory had fallen to the “wrong” side. Today we are constantly exposed to material in the news, movies, and computer games where good/bad, right/wrong are reinforced.
The root cause for conflict is usually a quest to better life, either to defend what we have or to seek something new or different. John Burton has distinguished between two fundamental causes: needs and interests of parties in conflict (Burton, 1993). Basic needs include food, shelter, safety, identity, and love; interests were defined more narrowly as anything that could be negotiated by a party without threatening their underlying needs. Taking that into account, a
conflict would be a situation where parties would either cooperate or compete in identifying their underlying interests and finding a durable and satisfactory solution.
Coser (1967) argued that “internal violence within a social system may be seen as a response to the failure of established authority to accommodate demands of new groups for hearing” (p. 96). The source of the conflict can thus be regarded as fear of needs not being met, as argued by Burton, and can escalate to serious conflict in the absence of political structures providing channels for expressing grievances experienced by the population. Coser (1967) pointed out that these channels are becoming outdated:
[They] have been designed to register power balances of the past, [and] tend to be insufficient when it comes to accommodating claims of new groupings not previously considered as political actors worthy of having their voices heard and their contributions counted. (p. 96)
Tracing the roots of social conflicts back in time, it is interesting to note Niccolo Machiavelli’s account of the history of Rome in his Discourses written around the year 1500, where he describes a similar situation as a background for this research and offered a similar view as Coser:
Look how people used to assemble and clamour against the senate, and how the senate decried the people, how men ran helter-skelter about the streets, how the shops were closed and how the plebs en masse would troop out of Rome—events which terrify, to say the least, anyone who read about them. To which I answer that every city should provide ways and means whereby the ambitions of the populace may find an outlet, especially a city which proposes to avail itself of the populace in important undertakings. (Macchiavelli, 1970, p. 114)
Following the financial crisis of 2008, Iceland experienced social unrest and protests unprecedented in terms of participation, longevity, and severity. The Iceland National Assembly was organized in November 2009 in an attempt to involve the general public in the political debate in a constructive way. It was hoped that this effort would open a channel for groups representing the public to be heard. It was also the clear objective of the organizers to turn negative energy into a positive force for change. The event, which was organized in the wake of protests and riots in front of the Parliament of Iceland, can in many ways be related to Coser’s arguments above.
It is argued that one of the most significant benefits of the Iceland National Assembly is the potential for building mutual respect and trust among citizens and between citizens and authorities during times of great conflict. It can be argued that mutual trust and respect are vital to unity, leading to successful structural coupling within the system as explained by Maturana and Varela (1987). Although it is not the objective of this study to focus on the root causes of conflict, it is important to discuss some of these factors in order to both understand the nature of social tension and to help turn negative energy resulting from social conflict into constructive energy for social recovery.
Sahtouris defined an evolutionary framework relevant to establishing the role of conflict in social evolution and consequent restoration to unity, as shown in Figure 2:
Figure 2. Repeating pattern of evolution2
As further discussed below, social conflict arising from competition for scarce resources
is critical to evolution’s advance, where a key trend is “increasing capacity of the living process
to cooperate” (Phipps, 2012, p. 82). A positive attitude toward conflict therefore facilitates a
better understanding of it and creates the potential to make the most of it. One reason that
conflict is such an elusive and misunderstood subject is that we interpret aspects of conflict in
very different, and sometimes erroneous, ways.
It is often said that conflict must be “managed” to resolution. This implies that the goal is
to deal with its manifestations rather than its causes. Assuming that a conflict is a manifestation
of differences, the issue then is to understand the roots of the conflicting beliefs. This requires a
Sahtouris 2002
safe environment in which the participants may express their differences. It must be made clear that the purpose is to move from a focus on differences toward a shared understanding of, and a conclusion that addresses, the underlying needs (Katzenback, 1998, p. 89).
Another common goal of conflict management is to reach a consensus. This objective is questionable since conflict should not necessarily be used as a tool to unite all perspectives, but rather to facilitate learning from these perspectives. What we seek is “an integration, rather than compromise or domination of one set of rules over the other” (Katzenback, 1998, p. 90). General Patton is quoted as saying, “Consensus is about everyone acting toward a common purpose … The more minds at work independently on a situation the better … Insist on cooperation but welcome creative dissent,” and “No one is thinking if everyone is thinking alike” (Axelrod, 1999, p. 81).
One of the key reasons that conflicts arise is interdependency. If you cannot get what you need or want by acting alone, you need others. Striving for a better life or improvement of any sort usually involves change and resistance to change. The perception is often that someone will take and someone will give. If there is any hope for success, there must be a perception of a win-win solution, that is, every participant will gain something from the conflict, or at least see that they will gain in the long run (Adizes, 1999, p. 152). To successfully implement the desired change, a coalition must be created including those with authority (the legal right to make certain decisions), power (the capability, not the right, to punish and/or reward), and influence (the capability, not the right, to make another person do something without using authority or power) (Adizes, 1996, pp. 108-120).
The essential ingredient is mutual trust, upon which the common interests must be based. Conflicting parties have to trust that both will benefit in the long run. Only then will there be a
desire to cooperate in spite of the short-term conflict of interests (Adizes, 1996, p. 153). If this is not present, there is little chance of overcoming conflict successfully.
In Moral Conflict: When Social Worlds Collide, Pearce and Littlejohn (1997) addressed the issue of poor-quality public discourse, indirectly addressing the effect of cultural bias:
[Transcendent discourse] attempts to understand each position on an assumptive level before evaluating the powers and limits of the position. It makes judgments about positions by appropriateness in historical situations and it promotes deep reflection by all participants so that they can make their own judgments. (p. 166)
The organizers of the communicative events studied in this paper took great care to secure such an environment for the participants. Facilitators gave special attention to providing a safe environment for active listening and deep meaning-making among participants. An essential component of the Assembly Process is that it provides tension relief in social conflict situations. Participant feedback following the meeting corroborated this assessment. Most respondents felt that the dialogue embracing the diversity of participants had transformed the negative energy associated with the current conflict into positive.
2.5 The Research Opportunity
The systemic breakdown of the Icelandic financial system and resulting social repercussions provide a rich source for analyzing pathological cultural development and its causes. The significance of such analysis for this paper is to establish the social context in which the National Assembly studied was conceived and carried out. Its potential in contributing to conscious social evolution should be explored in the context of the life conditions in which it took place. In analyzing the social context, this paper will focus on several relevant theories, including Adizes’ theory of human system lifecycles (1999), Graves’ theory of the emergence
and evolution of human systems through encoding thinking systems and priorities based on biopsychosocial factors (Beck & Cowan, 1996), and Beck’s further elaboration on the theory of Spiral Dynamics (Beck & Cowan, 1996). Complementary theories on values-based leadership, self-organized complex adaptive systems, and change from a systems thinking perspective will also be considered.
By studying the experience, further developing the approach and modeling it, I see this endeavor as a contribution to cultural transformation of large-scale human systems. The objective of the communicative engagement, which in this paper is named the Assembly Process, is to provide a communication platform for large-scale public discourse to develop “… culture as a construct that includes each society’s reservoir of the best that has been known and thought” (Said, 1993, p. xiii). This construct would be brought about by “encouraging new cultures of inclusion and through developing practices that include ‘the other’ as the grounds for social action …” (Said, 1993, p. xiii). Such engagements have the potential to provide an environment where diversity flourishes in a unified vision, leading to inclusion as participants reconsider their own thinking about what counts as “me” and “the other” (McNiff & Whitehead, 2009, p. 168).
2.6 The Assembly Process
In November of 2009, a large-scale communicative event took place involving a random sample of the Icelandic nation. It was followed by a second event in 2010, held in preparation for the rewriting of Iceland’s Constitution. Both were organized according to the same principles and process, called the Assembly Process. The analysis and discussion of the Assembly Process from a communicative perspective will be based on Participatory Action Research (PAR) principles as a general framework. To support the significance of
transformative public spheres as discussed later, a detailed account will be given of this large-scale focus group activity.
The purpose of this study is twofold:
1. To explore alternatives to traditional, punitive problem-solving methodologies, which may be capable of transforming large-scale human systems using natural design and evolutionary thinking
2. To use data gained from the Assembly Process to investigate how such evolutionary design could be used to develop templates, appropriate to prevalent life conditions and worldviews, that outline the most natural design for people, technology, and work to accomplish specific outcomes.
A year after the first Icelandic National Assembly in 2009, the Parliament of Iceland organized a second, identical Assembly in preparation for revisions to the Icelandic Constitution. While this could be considered a vote of confidence for the process used in 2009, it provided a valuable opportunity to make adjustments for the second iteration.
The fundamental significance of this study is the unique opportunity to follow the “live” development of a social transformation initiative in Iceland. The process initiated in November of 2009 was followed by numerous, smaller events and a full-scale reprise in 2010, with an estimated grand total of 20,000 participants.
2.7 Interpretative Interaction and the Action Imperative
Although the National Assembly was conceived as a participatory action research project, it stands on its own only as participative inquiry, in that participants did not have the authority, power and influence required to act on its conclusions. At the conclusion of the 2009 Assembly,
approximately half the participants expected immediate action from the authorities in response to their discourse, while the other half expected that further dialogue would be needed.
However, the potential of the Assembly Process for creating momentum for change and action is an important feature, to be taken into account when exploring the potential of the process in a general sense. Judging from the participants’ reflections following the meeting, the Assembly seems to have created a strong emotional experience. Maturana and Varela (1987) have pointed out that facilitation of both conversation and corresponding action is an essential role of the researcher. This role, as stated by Russel and Ison (2004), is at its heart the strategic management of emotion, where emotion is defined as “that flow of desire predisposing one towards a particular action” (p. 39); or as further stated by Maturana (2001), “The path of living systems in general, and the path of human history in particular, is guided by emotions, not resources” (p. 12). The imperative for action is the extent to which the process generates emotions that foster ongoing engagement.
The importance of emotions as an imperative for action was stressed by Russell and Ison (2004) in their research findings. They pointed out that “the focus of the researcher needs to be on the nature of the emotion, and not the rational elegance of the narrative, as determinant of the outcome of any interaction or series of interactions” (p. 43). Shared experience and joint meaning-making cultivate emotions as the point of leverage for change and commitment. In that regard, Maturana and Varela (1987) further maintained that love and desire for well-being are by far the most important emotions when it comes to conserving the way of life that we most value (p. 246).
This is closely related to what Denzin (1983) called Interpretive Interactionism: “the study and imputation of meaning, motive, intention, emotion and feeling, as these mental and
interactive states are experienced and organized by interacting individuals” (p. 129). The focus of Interpretive Interactionism is on the hermeneutic interpretation of ongoing social experience. Rather than exteriorized linguistic, economic, ritual, or mythological codes and structures, the focus is on the individual’s relationship to everyday life and on the “constitutive practises that make the world meaningful and understandable” (p. 130).
Denzin referred to relationships that bind individuals into their historical moments as ensembles, a collective form that relates individuals to one another. He characterized seven types of ensembles, which can be related to the experience of the groups attending the two large-scale National Assemblies in Iceland (Denzin, 1983, p. 131):
Series: separated individuals who only share a common location in space and time (the participants, most of whom had never met before, entering the room)
Group: collectivity in a state of reciprocal relationship (participants at the table, having introduced themselves and described their background)
Fused Group: newly formed and opposed to seriality
Pledged Group: develops from a fused group and forms an organized “distribution of rights and duties enforced by a pledge”
Organized Group: a pledged group propelled into action
Institution: a group that “develops from a pledged group through the ossification of its structures and the emergence of a sovereignty and seriality within it”
Class: the most complicated form of ensemble, the synthesis or totalization of institutional groups, pledged groups and series.
To the above may be added Gatherings, series capable of being transformed into groups, and Third Parties, individuals capable of unifying a group by observing or commanding it (Sartre, 1976, p. 830).
It may be argued that the participants of the two National Assemblies developed from a Series to a Fused Group to an early-stage Pledged Group; they were not fully pledged in that there was no formal decision to collaborate on a given subject. This assessment was substantiated by participants’ feedback gathered at the end of the process. It is also worth mentioning that similar events were subsequently organized to create momentum for action specifically within corporate settings. Thus it is argued that the potential of the events is not only related to policymaking grounded in a collective intelligence, but also a catalyst for cooperative action, evolution, and change.
2.8 Summary and Conclusion
This study investigates to what extent a public discourse process developed for two National Assemblies in Iceland can turn negative energy in times of crisis into a constructive force for social change and evolution. Several concepts will be presented in the next section to underpin the argument that this process is a potential catalyst for social evolution and natural design to deal with the prevailing challenges of existence in large-scale human systems.
Transference of information from one living system to another is difficult to accomplish with accuracy because “the path of living systems in general, and the path of human history, in particular, is guided by emotions, not resources” (Maturana, 2001, p. 12). Access to potentially valuable information or resources is only an opportunity if the recipient wants it to be so. National Assembly participants’ feedback indicates that their contributions had been directed by their desires and emotions. However, as valuable as the information gained from the Assembly
may be, imposing any action contrived from that information onto the larger population is, of course, problematic.
Safeguards, including stringent ground rules and research practices that embrace the highest standards of human values, ensured an excellent “sounding board” for public policy-making. This was precisely the intention with the second National Assembly, which initiated the revision of Iceland’s Constitution. A specially appointed committee of experts documented the results of this Assembly for the 25-member, publicly elected Constitutional Council as a working paper. Thus, the council served as an intermediary, developing the information gathered from the National Assembly dialogue into public policy that would affect the Icelandic society as a whole.
Collective intelligence, co-intelligence, collective wisdom, and wisdom of crowds are a few expressions for the phenomenon of collective thought in communities and societies, which is shaping the destiny of such human systems. In recent years, this phenomenon has attracted vast interest among scholars of social philosophy, psychology, management, political science, and anthropology. Collective intelligence and wisdom, inherent in all social systems, have produced great achievements as well as great disasters throughout human history; “harnessing the wisdom of crowds” is not necessarily a good thing. To achieve a positive outcome, certain requirements must be met in the process, as will be outlined in Section 5.2.
3.0 The Dialogue and Its Theoretical Underpinnings
3.1 The Constructivist Paradigm
The Assembly Process was not intended as empirical research to establish the “right” path for the Icelandic nation toward prosperity and sustainability. A claim that the event could produce that is not warranted; there are limitations which undermine such a possibility. However, I refer to the third and fourth research assumptions noted earlier in this paper:
3. Constructive development and conscious evolution of a human social system should be tailored to its collective intellectual capacity. The culture and its underlying worldview are key to understanding how the system might respond to intervention and what is needed as a next natural step in the system’s development.
4. Conscious evolution thus rests on the system’s collective intelligence, which must be measured using proven methods of qualitative inquiry in an authentic public sphere, and involving sufficient and representative diversity within the system.
The goal was to create a vision for the future that could serve both universal human needs and prevailing cultural priorities of the Icelandic nation as a whole. The process was that of a social inquiry using qualitative research and grounded theory methodologies, as well as fundamental principles of transcendent discourse and dialogue, which will be further examined in this section.
Over time there has been much controversy among proponents of various research paradigms for legitimacy and intellectual and paradigmatic hegemony (Guba & Lincoln, 2005). Two major groups of paradigms share many ontological and epistemological aspects: positivist (including post-positivist) on one hand, and postmodern (i.e., constructivist, critical and
participatory) on the other. Guba and Lincoln (2005) noted that, while the positivist and post-positivist paradigms fall under the categories of realist ontology and dualistic/objectivist epistemology, the postmodern methodologies infer that “inquiry methodology can no longer be treated as a set of universally applicable rules or abstractions” (p. 191). Research based on positivist methodologies uses experimental methods and verification of hypothesis, while the postmodern is based more on dialogic/dialectical methods.
Of these two paradigms, the postmodern seems more subjective in nature and does not assume one absolute truth. The postmodern also acknowledges that objectivity in social research is an illusion, since there are multiple factors affecting the degree of objectivity and definition of “truth.” However, as pointed out by Guba and Lincoln (2005), “… the various paradigms are beginning to ‘interbreed’ such that two theorists previously thought to be in irreconcilable conflict may now appear, under a different theoretical rubric, to be informing one another’s arguments” (p. 192). Guba and Lincoln (2005) further stated:
The call for action—whether in terms of internal transformation, such as ridding oneself of false consciousness, or of external social transformation—differentiates between positivist and postmodern criticalist theorists … The sharpest shift, however, has been in the constructivist and participatory phenomenological models, where a step beyond interpretation and Verstehen, or understanding, toward social action is probably one of the most conceptually interesting of the shifts. (p. 201)
This issue is crucial in determining the paradigm to be used in a research project, that is, to what extent there is expectation for action directly resulting from the research. Where the inquirer hopes to be a catalyst for change, a constructive/participatory paradigm is more appropriate, with an objective of emergence as explained by W. Barnett Pearce (2007):
Emergence is the production of global patterns of behavior by agents in a complex system interacting according to their own local rules of behavior without intending the global patterns of behavior that come about. In emergence, global patterns cannot be predicted from the local rules of behavior that produce them. To put it another way, global patterns cannot be reduced to individual behavior. (p. 72)
Regarding social research of a living system in constant change, the “objective truth” becomes an elusive concept. This questions the positivist and post-positivist axiological stance that “propositional knowing about the world, as an end in itself, is intrinsically valuable” whereas the postmodern as explained in the participatory paradigm is “practical knowing about how to flourish with a balance of autonomy, cooperation, and hierarchy in a culture as an end in itself, is intrinsically valuable” (Guba & Lincoln, 2005, p. 198). This seems more appropriate in an organic social setting.
It is argued that the Assembly Process research rests on the postmodern paradigm through a corroboration of participatory action research and grounded theory methodologies. These two qualitative social research methodologies, highlights of which are outlined below, were then the basis for harnessing the wisdom of crowds through Interpretive Interactionism “where the goal is the presentation and interpretation of a sequence of symbolic interaction” (Denzim, 1983, p. 130). Principles regarding public discourse and collective intelligence will also be discussed, since they were important to the implications of the Assembly for the society as a whole.
Since this study also contains a situation analysis of the life conditions prevalent at the time of the National Assembly, quantitative methods were applied to establish important cultural
elements and basic operating values within the society; these quantitative methods will be discussed as well.
3.2 Participatory Action Research
For the purpose of this research and analysis of the Assembly Process, the concept of action research will be narrowed down to Participatory Action Research to focus on critical aspects of the research paradigm. In the Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research (Denzim & Lincoln, 2005), the editors provide the following definition of Participatory Action Research, upon which I will base my discussion:
Participatory Action Research (PAR) is an alternative philosophy of research (and social life) associated with liberation theology, neo-Marxist approaches to community development, and human rights activism. There are several different strands of participatory research from critical action research, to classroom action research, action learning, action science and industrial action research. Participatory researchers believe in the shared ownership of research projects, as well as the value of community-based analyses of social problems. They have a commitment to local community action, but they take care to protect the welfare and interests of those with whom they work. (Denzim & Lincoln, 2005, p. 385)
Chapter 23 of the Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research elaborates a bit more on this definition, where the authors stated that what distinguishes participatory research from convential research are three attributes: “… shared ownership of research projects, community-based analysis of social problems, and an orientation toward community action” (Kemmis & McTaggart, 2005, p. 560).
Kemmis and McTaggart (2005) have labeled this a soft system approach, which they describe as:
… the human “systems” analogy for systems engineering that has developed as the science of product and information flow … The researcher (typically an outside consultant) assumes a role as discussion partner or trainer in a real problem situation. The researcher works with participants to generate some (systems) models of the situation and uses the models to question the situation and to suggest a revised course of action. (p. 563)
Seven key features of Participatory Action Research as outlined by Kemmis and McTaggart (2005) are: a social process; participatory; practical and collaborative; emancipatory; critical; reflexive; and aims to transform both theory and practice (pp. 567-568). The authors defined a spiral of self-reflective cycles, an important feature of PAR, as follows (the first three points are considered relevant for the Assembly Process):
 Planning a change
 Acting and observing the process and consequences of the change
 Reflecting on these processes and consequences
 Replanning
 Acting and observing again
 Reflecting again, and so on (p. 563)
They stated that “each of the steps outlined in the spiral of self-reflection is best undertaken collaboratively by coparticipants in the participatory action research process” (p. 563) and concluded:
… if practices are constituted in social interaction between people, changing practices is a social process … At its best, then, participatory action research is a social process of collaborative learning realized by groups of people who join together in changing the practices through which they interact in a shared social world in which, for better or worse, we live with the consequences of one another’s action. ( p. 563)
There are other features discussed by Kemmis and McTaggart (2005) regarding communicative action that relate perfectly to change process, such as the four kinds of questions asked for validity:
 Whether their understandings of what they are doing make sense [to the participants] (are comprehensible)
 Whether these understandings are true (in the sense of being accurate in accordance with what else is known)
 Whether these understandings are sincerely held and stated (authentic)
 Whether these understandings are morally right and appropriate under the circumstances in which they find themselves (p. 576)
I argue that these features are foundational for communicative action through mutual respect and central features of the organization and flow of the Assembly Process. The concept of communicative space that opens between participants in Participatory Action Research, as explained by Kemmis and McTaggart (2005), also fits perfectly into this equation: “Participatory action research aims to create circumstances in which people can search together collaboratively for more comprehensible ways of understanding and acting in the world” (p. 578).
3.3 Public Spheres and Dialogue
Given the tension in Iceland at the time of the 2009 National Assembly, the organizers took great care in designing the communicative space. Facilitators specifically trained to be neutral guardians of the process were placed at each table to secure safety and uniform practices. The concept of public sphere has already been mentioned in this paper as a phenomenon applicaple to the Assemply Process. The term originates from Jürgen Habermas(1961) and most contemporary conceptualizations of the term are based on his work. McNiff and Whitehead (2009) pointed out the importance of creating a public communicative space, or sphere, that can foster collaboration for greater social understanding and learning. They defined public sphere as:
… a form of social life where people come together on an equal footing to discuss what makes their lives worthwile and how they can achieve the kind of lives and world they wish to live in. The public sphere therefore becomes a space in which rational discussion is encouraged and where decisions are reached discursively. (p. 179)
They stated that authentic public spheres can be most effective when what counts as knowledge is based on practical experience of real people, although assuming there is technical, rational knowledge involved as well. Thus, knowledge is grounded in lived experience of situations and relationships that are contested and need to be negotiated through dialogue. “Your reality is a dialogical one, where all people’s voices are heard, all learn to speak the other’s dialect, and all demonstrate willingness to listen and attend to the other rather than expect the other to do so first” (p. 180).
This feature is specifically reinforced in the facilitators’ handbook for the Assembly, where it is explicitly stated that “the methodology of the meeting shall ensure that the outcome represents the viewpoints of those who attend the meeting, not the organizers.” The facilitator’s
responsibility is to ensure that everyone at the table has an equal opportunity to express themselves and that active listening is practiced (Appendix C).
David Bohm (1996) defined dialogue as a picture or image derived from “streams of meaning, flowing among and through us and between us. This will make possible a flow of meaning in the whole group, out of which may emerge some new understanding” (p. 7). Bohm stressed that dialogue is about the thought process itself and changing the way it occurs collectively. In other words, it is all about the process of thought, not the content.
Bohm (1996) compared the term dialogue, derived from the Greek dialogos (dia = “through” and logos = “the word,” implying a flow of meaning) with discussion, derived from Latin words meaning “breaking things up” (p. 7). The former is generative and collaborative, the latter analytical and often competitive. Figure 3 shows some of the most important differences between dialogue and discussions, as explained by Bohm:
Dialogue Discussion
Starts with listening
Starts with talking
Is about speaking with...
Is about talking to…
Focuses on insights
Focuses on differences
Is collaborative
Is adversarial
Generates ideas
Generates conflicts
Encourages reflection
Encourages quick thinking
Encourages emergence
Encourages lock-in
Bohm 2006
Figure 3. Dialogue versus discussion
With the “flow of meaning” principle in mind, the emphasis at the National Assembly was very much on the left side of Figure 3; it focused on changing the way the thought process occurs collectively.
3.4 The Metaphor of Social Autopoiesis
Strategic discussion within organizations and societies has traditionally been centered around adapting to and devising strategies to cope with externalities. Vast literature on the subject warrants the argument that this has been, and to a large extent still is, the conventional way of strategizing. Corporate and social leaders will explain in times of crisis that the system was hit by something external, which was why it didn’t deliver desired results. The same was very true in Iceland when the financial crisis hit the country. The prime minister and other government officials clearly stated that problems were only a result of external factors, that is, the international banking crisis.
However, there is a growing tendency to regard the environment as an extension of the human system in question. Capra (1996) stated that living systems have the capability to create and renew themselves for growth and change: “A living system is a network of processes in which every process contributes to all other processes. The entire network is engaged together in producing itself” (p. 99).
This ability of living systems to self-create has been explained by a concept called autopoiesis (from the Greek, meaning self-production or self-making). Autopoiesis is defined as “… life’s fundamental process for creating and renewing itself, for growth and change” (Wheatley, 1999, p. 20). The theory of autopoiesis was first developed in Chile in the 1960s and early 1970s by two Chilean scientists, Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela (Morgan, 2006, p. 242). Wheatley (1999) added another important feature regarding living systems in that “each organism maintains a clear sense of its individual identity within a larger network of relationships that helps shape its identity. Each being is noticable as a separate entity, yet it is simultaneously part of a whole system” (p. 20).
Russel and Ison (2004) applied the concept of autopoiesis to a research project outlined in their article, “Maturana’s Intellectual Contribution: A Choreography of Conversation and Action,” that relates in many ways to the Assembly Process. Although Maturana and Varela intended the theory of autopoiesis to apply to biology, Morgan (2006, p. 402) argued that the concept has many implications for the analysis of all living systems, as did Wheatley (1999) and Capra (2002). The theory of social autopoiesis has been applied to social systems by Geyer and van der Zouwen (2001), Jessop (1990), Luhmann (1995), and Russel and Ison (2004). According to Morgan, Maturana and Varela had strong reservations about applying the theory to
the social world, but used as a metaphor, the theory of autopoiesis has implications for understanding human social systems such as organizations:
Organizations are always attempting to achieve a form of self-referential closure in relations to their environment, enacting their environment as extensions of their own identity. … Autopoiesis helps us understand that many of the problems that orgnizations encounter in dealing with their environments are intimately connected with the kind of identity that they try to maintain. … It helps us see that explanations of the evolution, change and development of organizations must give primary attention to the factors that shape patterns embracing both organizations and environment in the broadest sense. (Morgan, 2006, p. 246)
Although Morgan’s arguments apply to organizations, I argue that, as a systems theory phenomenon, autopoiesis would also apply to macrosystems such as societies (Bechman & Stehr, 2002, p. 68). Referring to the research question, the potential of the Assembly Process for restoring a human social system in times of crisis can be considered from the metaphor of social autopoiesis.
3.5 The Effects on Social Learning
The original expectation was that the results of the Iceland National Assembly could be conveyed to a larger outside population and used as a roadmap for the system as a whole. While the outcome may provide broad guidelines for policymaking (as demonstrated by the 2010 Assembly), the primary benefit is in creating emotion and commitment that lead to action. The transfer of data to a policymaking platform requires further research.
On the other hand, a post-meeting survey clearly indicated that the discourse greatly enhanced the social learning of all 2009 Assembly participants. One of the central ideas of
Maturana’s (2001) claim was that “all knowing is doing” (p. 27). The process at the National Assembly was that of co-research and co-creation by the participants themselves, under guidance of trained facilitators, with focus on form rather than content. Thus, the undertaking was to acquire a greater knowledge through doing the research together, trying to genuinely understand the essence of the social issues being dealt with at each table. Based on supplementary notes from the participants, it was clear that they had experienced a great deal of learning apart from the emotional significance of the event.
Another significant concept in this regard is Double Loop Learning, which proposes that an individual or social system is not only learning, it is learning to learn. Double Loop Learning occurs when an entity, after multiple attempts to achieve a goal, either modifies the goal in light of its experience or rejects the goal. It “depends on being able to taka a ‘double look’ at the situation by questioning the relevance of operating norms” (Morgan, 2006, p. 85). Single Loop Learning, on the other hand, “rests in an ability to detect and correct error in relation to a given set of operating norms” (p. 85); that is, makes repeated attempts at the same problem without any modification to the method used or the goal itself. This theory was pioneered by Chris Argyris, among others, but later popularized by Peter Senge in The Learning Organization (1990) and Revan’s Action Learning (Morgan, 2006, p. 84). The Double Loop Learning Theory proposes that a dialogue not only facilitates resolution of a particular issue, but also changes the way issues are resolved in the future. To relate this to the Assembly Process, the facilitators were initially defined as researchers; subsequently, they and the participants were “inventing a researching space together … and … the interplay (doing, conversing) between researchers [and participants] was not only the focus of attention but was the generative field for data, for learning and for change” (Russel & Ison, 2004, p. 37). It is argued that the numerous similar events
subsequent to the 2009 Assembly clearly indicate that the process has a double-loop learning effect (Morgan, 2006), changing the way issues are dealt with and resolved.
4.0 Research Activities
4.1 The Research Team
In June of 2009, Icelandic Minister of Environment Svandis Svavarsdottir arranged a meeting between nine people from different grass-roots organizations, academic institutions, and Icelandic businesses. These were people from various backgrounds, all very resourceful and with many contacts to further strengthen the backbone of the initiative. As they gathered, they discovered that they all shared the same dream: to turn the negative feelings, revenge factor, and blame game into positive efforts to design, collaborate on, and literally shape the future of Iceland.
The group decided to call itself The Anthill, referring to the underlying philosophy of wisdom of crowds. Various members of the group brought experience in research, managing complex projects, and electronic registering and handling of data. There were also members with the resources and connections to build a support web for the project, both financial and otherwise.
In a short time, this group united strongly around its dream to really make an impact on the social dialogue in Iceland. This made the group very cohesive and determined to follow through on its mission, despite differences in political beliefs and backgrounds.
4.2 Developing a Working Relationship
Peter Block (2008), a well-known author of several books on consultancy, stewardship, and community building, set forth the following strategic principles of social change:
 The essential work is to build social fabric, both for its own sake and to enable chosen accountability among citizens
 Strong associational life is essential and central
 Citizens who use their power to convene other citizens will create an alternative future
 The small group is the unit of transformation
 All transformation is linguistic, which means that we can think of community as essentially a conversation (p. 30)
Although the original research team, The Anthill, did not have this in mind explicitly, it was clear that the above was a very strong foundation upon which to build the team’s mission.
With this shared mission and a values-driven culture, cooperation quickly gained momentum. Each member had a personal stake in the common goal, but it was also decided that all would contribute to the work without financial reward, which helped reinforce the values-based approach.
One aim of the Assembly Process was to link actionable knowledge to universal theory. As a management model, this very much follows the principles of practicability. The process was conceived by The Anthill group as a whole, and then those with more specific expertise in various aspects of the “practical” world helped further develop the process.
In the early stages, The Anthill composed a manifesto stating both its external goals and those for the internal relationships needed to pull the team through expected obstacles along the way. The common aim of The Anthill from the beginning was that the National Assembly would be a gift to Iceland. The main points of the manifesto were:
 Through the National Assembly, we will develop a national vision built on strong core values shared among the nation. We will …
o … define main priorities for the future
o … create an experience that awakens a strong sense of unity, positive tension, and hope for better times
o … harness the forces needed for revival and innovation
o … connect different but interrelated forces within the society
o … regain the trust of the international community by showing, in real terms, that Iceland faces its current position and deals with it jointly in both a coherent and responsible manner
o … harness the wisdom of the crowd through proven methodologies
These goals were based on the following core beliefs shared by the research team:
 Healthy and natural evolution of the Icelandic society is only possible through concerted efforts and insight of the nation
 Through the National Assembly, we wish to harness these forces and offer the nation tools for a fresh start for recovery, based on shared core values and vision
 We contribute our work to the nation and the cause without asking for anything in return
 We strongly emphasize that the National Assembly is and will always be an asset shared by the nation as a whole, and that no individual or association can claim praise for its success
 We build on clear core values among ourselves to secure results, cohesion and sustainability
These traits were key to actually implementing this huge project as a pure grass-roots phenomenon. Basing its working relationships on these principles helped the group live its values of integrity, equality, and initiative. No one was the “leader,” but each member took the
lead automatically as the task at hand required their particular capacities, connections, or experience. The high degree of mutual respect and trust also assured that progress would be made despite the occasional absence of some members.
Over time, The Anthill expanded its membership to provide specialized resources for organizing meetings, data processing, communications, and facilitating discussions. These new members seamlessly joined the strong culture that had evolved within the group, becoming part of the dynamic.
A Process Team comprised of people from academia and consulting who were skilled in facilitation techniques, called Area Managers, recruited top-notch facilitators to serve at each table during the Assembly meetings. These facilitators received extensive, carefully documented training, including numerous simulation exercises, to ensure a uniform approach at each table. Eighteen Area Managers each managed nine tables at the Assembly. In the end, the total task force had grown to some 450 members, each with their specific role, and all but one (the overall project administrator) were working on a voluntary basis.
The National Assembly model involves elements such as coaching, facilitating, project management, and many other management principles. Cultural research in psychological, ethnographic, historical, and geographic contexts was undertaken in preparation for the event. The event was organized by facilitators who had all received the same training prior to the Assembly.
The basic objectives were:
 Harness the wisdom of crowds by creating an authentic public space
 Develop and apply an alternative approach for a national visioning process
 Make an impact on participants, leaving no one untouched by the experience
 Leave behind workable conclusions to help the Icelandic society reach its goals
4.3 Formulating the Inquiry
In formulating the questions for the inquiry conducted at the National Assembly, great care was taken to secure the inquiry’s overall objective: “What kind of a future do we wish to co-create for generations to come?” The context was that of possibilities and not of retribution or problem-solving. In other words, there was a clear objective to create a forum for restorative conversation in the hope that such a forum might initiate constructive dialogue. Block (2008) explained:
Restoration is created by the kinds of conversations we initiate with each other. These conversations are the leverage point for an alternative future. The core question that underlies each conversation is, “What can we create together?” Shifting the context from retribution to restoration will occur through language that moves in the following directions: From problems to possibility; from fear and fault to gifts, generosity and abundance; from law and oversight to social fabric and chosen accountability; from corporation and system to associational life; and from leaders to citizens. (p. 47)
The research team’s discussions did not only evolve around the questions themselves, but also the order in which these questions would be asked. We realized that guiding the conversations of a nation mired in recrimination and retribution to the possibility of restoration would require careful planning.
It was decided that the first question would be, “What core values do we want to base our future society on?” The next was, “What is the purpose and vision of our society?” This question was judged too broad in scope, so was reformulated to, “How do we want to see the future Iceland?”
These two questions framed the largest part of the inquiry. A final question was asked at the end of the process: “What initiatives do we think are necessary or useful to further our quest for the desired future?” This last part of the research process was handled differently from the first, as explained below.
4.4 Inviting Participants
The method by which participants would be chosen posed a dilemma for the organizers of the Assembly. It was imperative to maintain authenticity by choosing the participants in a transparent and objective manner; however, it was also important that stakeholders in national and economic leadership be present in order to gain their support. Transferring the results of this meeting to the wider population would be problematic without first grounding those results with the “establishment.”
We decided to use a random sample of the total population, aged 18 and older, drawn from the National Registry. This eliminated both hand-picking and open access, which would not have allowed control of the participant profile. Being a National Assembly, it was desired that the participants represent the nation’s demographic profile as much as possible. To approach a 3% error margin with 95% confidence, 1,200 attendees would be required.3
My experience, and that of my research colleagues at Capacent Gallup Iceland, in conducting focus group meetings is that participation is significantly lower when people are required to meet in person than when they are surveyed by telephone or electronic means. Therefore, 6,000 names were randomly drawn from the National Registry to be invited to the Assembly, and travel expenses were paid for invitees from remote areas. Another challenge was
3 For calculation of sample accuracy, a similar approach may be found at
the possibility that some who had accepted the invitation would not turn up in the end, leaving empty seats. To accommodate for that, all invitees received a follow-up phone call to improve turnout, but for the 2009 Assembly, no attempt was made to solicit a replacement with the same demographic profile as the person being replaced.
The gender profile of the 2009 Assembly was near the national gender profile: 47% female and 53% male. The geographical representation, however, was skewed in that there were fewer participants from remote locations, ranging from 51% relative to the population in the northeast part of the country, to 135% relative to the population in Reykjavik (southwest), where the National Assembly was held. The age profile as compared to the population is shown in Figure 4:
Figure 4. Age profile of the 2009 Iceland National Assembly
The same method for random sampling was used for the 2010 National Assembly. However, this time attempts were made to fill vacancies with participants fitting the same demographic profile as invitees who declined to participate. All invitees were contacted by phone, and when someone declined participation, people of similar profiles were contacted until a participant was secured. Thus the invitees to the second National Assembly constituted a quota sample, since provisions were made to “… guarantee the inclusion of diverse elements of the population and to make sure that they [were] taken account of in the proportion in which they occur in the population” (Judd, Smith, & Kidder, 1991, p. 134). It is important to note that the profile only considered demographic variables; political affiliations were not known or checked in any way.
2009 Assembly
The Anthill 2009
5.0 Data Collection and Analysis
5.1 Data Collection and Categorization
Principles of Grounded Theory were used to design the process for collecting and categorizing data. Kathy Charmaz (2005) stated:
The term “grounded theory” refers both to a method of inquiry and to the product of inquiry. However, researchers commonly use the term to mean a specific mode of analysis. Essentially, grounded theory methods are a set of flexible analytic guidelines that enable researchers to focus their data collection and to build inductive middle-range theories through successive levels of data analysis and conceptual development (p. 507).
In other words, Grounded Theory methods consist of simultaneous data collection and analysis, with each informing and focusing on the other throughout the research process. Charmaz furthermore claimed that “a major strength of grounded theory methods is that they provide tools for analyzing processes” (pp. 507-508). Charmaz listed the following criteria for Grounded Theory studies:
 Credibility: Do the categories cover a wide range of empirical observations?
 Originality: How does the work challenge, extend or refine current ideas, concepts, and practices?
 Resonance: Do the categories portray the fullness of the studied experience?
 Usefulness: Can the analysis spark further research in other substantive areas? (p. 528)
The grounded theory of qualitative research complements Participatory Action Research, in my view; it is not only observational, but also a hands-on methodology that considers the processes that created the situation being studied. The action research methodology, on the other
hand, is rooted in the constructivist paradigm and aims to build commitment to the results in influential parties and thus provide a greater momentum for change.
The Assembly Process was designed to allow the participants themselves to define categories and subcategories for data produced. An expert committee then defined nine themes to encompass these classifications, which will be explored in the Data Analysis section of this paper.
5.2 Data Analysis: Detecting the Collective Wisdom
The intention of the Assembly Process is not to prove that the outcome is truly representative of “the will of the people” from which the sample is drawn. “The will of the people” is too elusive a concept in this context, and there are limitations to the extent that such a statement can be empirically tested and proven.
However, the organizers of the National Assembly claimed that it would “harness the wisdom of the people.” Larus Ymir Oskarsson, one of the organizers, said: “The purpose was to hear the voice of the people and we think that the results reflect that.”4 These are bold statements and not easily verifiable. Therefore, the ideologies of collective intelligence and wisdom require further elaboration in this paper, since they are fundamental to the validity of the National Assembly as a nation-building process.
Human intelligence has been studied extensively over the centuries, but the focus on collective intelligence is much more recent. Dewey alluded to the vision of collective intelligence in his 1937 speech, “Democracy as a Way of Life,” where he stated:
The foundation of democracy is … faith in human intelligence and in the power of pooled and cooperative experience. It is not belief that these things are complete but that,
if given a show, they will grow and be able to generate progressively the knowledge and wisdom needed to guide collective action. (Caspary, 2000, p. 198)
Atlee and Pór (2000) defined collective intelligence within human systems as “… the capacity of human communities to evolve towards higher order complexity and harmony, through such innovation and mechanisms as differentiation and integration, competition and collaboration” (p. 3). In his book, The Tao of Democracy (2003), Atlee went so far as to state: “Given the right conditions which have been created in numerous environments around the world on many occasions, communities and societies can collectively reflect on their problems and possibilities, and collectively choose and implement effective, event brilliant solutions and initiatives” (p. 54).
Some terms used for collective intelligence are actually referring to variations of the concept, such as collective wisdom, co-intelligence, and swarm intelligence. The designation collective intelligence as used in this paper is further defined in this adaptation from George Pór’s5 (2004) article, “Notes on Forms of Collective Intelligence (CI):”
Reflective (dialogic) CI: People thinking together through dialogue and deliberation. It is very much like mutual inquiry, where people learn both from listening to others and from responding to diverse views in a safe space, or authentic public sphere, as will be outlined later in this section. This form of CI is one of the pillars of the Assembly Process.
5 founder of Community Intelligence Ltd, research fellow in the Business School of Universiteit van Amsterdam, and member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Knowledge Management. Further information on these forms of CI at:
Structural (systemic) CI: Relies on structures, rules, and systems to support intelligent behaviors of the system as a whole and all its members. This is also highly relevant to the Assembly Process as it is central to the creation of authentic public space, a prerequisite for all forms of collective intelligence.
Evolutionary (learning-based) CI: Intelligence acquired through interaction. This action-based dynamic is more prone to trial and error than the co-thinking of Reflective CI, but is of course fully relevant to the Assembly Process.
Informational (communication-based) CI: Comes from information received through public information sources such as libraries, newspapers, and the Internet.
Noetic (spiritual or consciousness-based) CI: Accessible through altered or higher states of consciousness or esoteric practices. In the 2009 Assembly feedback survey, feelings of unity, sincerity, and creativity were often mentioned as the most important experience taken from the event. One participant, a well-known Icelandic writer, said: “If there is a heaven … this is it!,” which perhaps best describes the overall spiritual experience of the participants.
Flow (mutual attunement-based) CI: Boundaries between individuals vanish; they become a highly effective team carried along by the energy they generate. In the Assembly Process, flow is essential as there is limited time available for the shared meaning-making required to form a cohesive picture from the data.
Statistical (crowd-oriented) CI: Covered most notably by James Surowiecki in his well-known book, The Wisdom of Crowds (2004), this form of intelligence maintains that a high enough number of individuals will, under the right circumstances, always outsmart individuals in coming up with the “right” answer. After many experiments, Surowiecki concluded: “Things never did go wrong. Each time, the crowd did just as expected: its collective guess was very
accurate, and was better than the vast majority of individual guesses” (p. 274). The outcome of this type of intelligence is measureable; results can be verified against a known numerical figure. This form of CI does not apply to the Assembly Process, as there is no “right” answer to compare the results of the data to.
Relevational (emergence-based) CI: Inquiries and intentions that produce unexpected, but highly relevant, insights into a particular matter. According to Pór (2004), relevation is a term put forward by the late quantum physicist David Bohm as “the dynamic through emergence from potentiality (implicate order) into actuality (explicate order) as a result of their relevance to existing reality” (Relevational section, para. 1). Applicable to the Assembly Process as it yields ideas that originate from something not really spoken, but “relevated” out of the space between participants.
Of the eight forms of CI outlined above, all but Statistical seem fully relevant to the Assembly Process. Judging from statistical intelligence research, it is argued that the crowd at the Assembly, of all ages from 18 and up, of both genders, from all sectors of society and parts of the country, did represent a fair account of the view of the nation toward the future evolution of its society. Before this statement can be substantiated, however, more consideration must be given to whether or not the conclusions of the Assembly are the best course for the nation into the future.
Collective intelligence can be a two-edged sword. While it can provide wisdom superior to that of any individual, it can lead to disasters and stupidity, often referred to as groupthink, as history has often revealed. Gathering a large crowd to deal with an issue does not at all secure the right outcome. Atlee and Pór (2000) clearly stated:
In relation to intelligence, wisdom can be viewed as an expanded perspective and motivation that embraces more of the whole of the situation being considered [emphasis in original] … Collective intelligence is wise, then, to the extent it successfully embraces whole systems in all their complexity and contexts; the interests, capacities and perspectives of all stakeholders and of the systems, themselves; full, relevant, and nuanced information about the situation; the whole of who we are as human beings; any emergent realities and creative possibilities; and so on. (p. 3)
Surowiecki (2004) also confirmed the limitation of crowds if not managed properly, and called for diversity and independence in stating:
An intelligent group, especially when confronted with cognition problems, does not ask its members or modify their positions in order to let the group reach a decision everyone can be happy with. Instead, it figures out how to use mechanisms—like market prices, or intelligent voting systems—to aggregate and produce collective judgments that represent not what any one person in the group thinks, but rather, in some sense, what they all think. … the best way for a group to be smart is for each person in it to think and act as independently as possible. (pp. xix-xx)
It is relevant to note that voting systems were widely used during the Assembly to establish priorities and choose topics that participants deemed most important. Each participant was allowed to vote for three items only.
Fisher (2009) attested to the same in his book The Perfect Swarm, stressing the need for diversity in the following areas:
 Knowledge: a range of relevant knowledge within the group
 Perspectives: ways to view a problem
 Interpretations: ways to categorize a problem or partition perspectives
 Heuristics: ways to generate solutions to problems
 Predictive models: ways to infer cause and effect (p. 74)
Fisher (2009) also defined three fundamental requirements for harnessing the wisdom of crowds:
 The people in the group must be willing to think for themselves and reach diverse, independent conclusions
 The question must have a definite answer that can ultimately be checked against reality
 Everyone in the group must be answering the same question, which may seem obvious, but it is often possible for people to interpret the same question in very different ways (pp. 68-69)
Though great care was taken in the National Assembly to fulfill the first and third requirements, there were obvious limitations, as previously noted, to accomplishing the second.
Every effort was made to retain the subcategorization of data as presented by participants, with no reworking by registrar or researcher. This did not succeed altogether in the first National Assembly, but based on that experience, provisions were made to further ensure subcategorization integrity for the 2010 Assembly. The data, registered by participant number, could also be compared to demographic variables for classification by gender, age, and place of origin.
Each group of participants, defined by table assignment, voted on the importance of its data items. These views of each small group, however, did not represent the views of the Assembly as a whole in terms of prioritizing data items.
5.3 Categorization, Organization, and Accessibility
National Assembly participants recorded their ideas on data cards, one idea per card. The cards showed the number assigned to the contributor, to which demographic information such as age, gender, and geographic origin was linked. Participants also defined categories and subcategories for their ideas; the same afternoon, an expert committee defined nine themes to encompass these classifications. The data, unedited in any way by Assembly facilitators, was registered the same evening and later made available on the Assembly’s website6 for public access.
5.4 Summary: Making Scholarly Contributions
The overarching goal of the 2009 National Assembly was to demonstrate that:
 an event such as this could successfully elicit meaningful participation by a cross-section of a whole population, resulting in tangible data for use in shaping a desired future
 it would be possible to shift from a dialectic and polarized discussion to dialogue focusing on values, possibilities, and diverse interests
 it could provide a publicly available, open-space arena for creative, constructive dialogue to develop a shared vision.
One of the most important objectives of the Iceland National Assembly was that it would “harness the wisdom of the nation for a better future.” In order to do so, an authentic public sphere was organized to facilitate a constructive flow of ideas between participants. As Tom Atlee (1999) stated, “To our normal awareness a room filled with people is just a crowd. But
arrange those people in the right way, with the right processes, and they can generate wisdom” (p. 1).
The Assembly Process was not intended to include a comprehensive study of its own results. The 2009 Assembly focused on the dialogue process, categorizing the ideas into themes, and making the data publicly available for those who wished to continue the work of change and growth. The 2010 Assembly was intended to give the citizens of Iceland a voice in the revision of their Constitution: the Parliament elected a committee to prepare the data in an easily comprehensible format for the Constitutional Council, resulting in a 700-page document that several members of the council stated was a significant factor in equipping them for a unanimous decision, in only four months, on a full draft proposal for a new Constitution.
6.0 The Assembly and Social Evolution
The preceding sections focused on validating the Assembly Process as an authentic inquiry based on qualitative research paradigms, as well as the significance of dialogue in harnessing collective intelligence. This section will explore the significance of public communicative engagement as it relates to its real-life context. I refer again to the research assumptions set forth earlier in this paper, which are justified by literary sources and my own research activities:
1. Individuals in a social system interact with their environment based on their worldview and culture resulting in a co-creation of what can be defined as life conditions.
2. They will attempt to fulfill their basic human needs using means aligned with their values and belief systems.
3. Constructive development of a human social system should be tailored to its collective intellectual capacity.
4. Properly evaluating the system’s collective intelligence requires an authentic public space, sufficient and representative diversity of subjects, and proven methods of qualitative inquiry.
5. New policies and suggestions for action are more likely to be accepted if grounded in the social system’s core intelligence.
The underlying thesis is that these assumptions hold for every kind of human social system. They are components of the model for conscious social evolution shown in Figure 1. Although the assumptions are reinforced by literary sources, they require further testing in other social contexts to demonstrate their validity and generalizability.
In order to fully grasp the potential of the Process within the overall scheme of social evolution, one must look at the factors illustrated in the management model shown in Figure 5. The analysis is performed with secondary data acquired mostly from the parliamentary Special Investigation Commission (SIC), assembled to investigate the causes of the 2008 financial crisis.
Figure 5. Conscious Social Evolution model
Referring to the assumption, “Individuals in a social system interact with their environment based on their worldview and culture resulting in a co-creation of what can be defined as life conditions,” the analysis is based on a management framework of human system lifecycles (Adizes, 1999). A tool called the Change State Indicator was also used to measure the level of urgency and desire for change within the system.
The theory of human system lifecycles states that all living systems, including human social systems such as societies and organizations, go through certain lifecycles on their pathway
from birth to death. Lifecycle stages are identified by the system’s problems and issues, which are either normal for the stage of growth or abnormal and requiring treatment. The use of this framework serves to mitigate bias on behalf of the observer.
6.1 Significance and Framework for Analyzing Life Conditions
In this section, the problems of existence as an interaction between the members of the human system and its environment will be discussed, referring to the upper left quadrant of the CSE model as shown in Figure 6:
Figure 6. Upper left quadrant of Conscious Social Evolution model
Dr. Ichak Adizes (1999) suggested that “… every system—breathing or not—has a lifecycle. We know that living organisms—plants, animals and people—are born, grow, age and die. So do organizations” (p. 10). It is argued that every living human system, large or small, is governed by the fundamental dynamics driving its worldview, priority codes, and behavior, or more specifically according to Bohm (1994), human thought. Dr. Adizes (1999) defined several critical milestones in growth and decline of the lifecycle (pp. 33-186):
Figure 7. The lifecycles of an organization
This lifecycle curve in Figure 7 suggests, in my opinion, three phases defined as follows:
Infancy and growth. Includes the stages defined by Adizes as Infancy, Go-Go, and Adolescence. Characterized by the struggle of birth and survival (Infancy), evolving to rapid growth and high degree of flexibility (Go-Go), ending in a struggle with the level of complexity developed during the rapid growth and being required to implement formal structure. In the early stages, the system is usually governed as much by instinct as by its immediate life conditions; characteristically it is not very systematic or organized. During these stages, the system matures and starts showing signs of independence and self-sufficiency. In the absence of formal governance, the system might break down because the intuitive “founder style” parental governance system is no longer able to cope with increasingly complex life conditions. The increased complexity of the entity, its own inner growth, and higher degree of maturity lead to a
cyclic need to cope with more and more complex problems as the young individual, organization, or nation matures (Adizes, 1999, pp. 33–76).
Deviations from the normal path in the growing stages, such as Infant Mortality, Founder’s Trap, and Divorce as noted in Figure 7, may lead to pathological problems if unresolved. Adizes (1999) explained: “Pathological problems are distinguishable from abnormal problems by their gravity and their chronic nature. Those are problems that, because they were not treated in time, now threaten the [system’s] ability to survive” (p. 12). Adizes believed that a pathological imbalance may lead to the death of the system if nothing is done to prevent it. This phenomenon is not really an aging process when it happens in the growing stage, although the manifestations resemble the aging part of the lifecycle in many ways. The phenomenon of premature aging is confined to the growing part of the lifecycle, which means that it happens when the system is integrating as a functional, holistic system.
Adulthood. Includes late Adolescence and Prime, Stable, and early Aristocracy stages. The system matures and begins to show signs of aging that are, however, often ignored. The organization is now independent and self-sustained, with a distinctive culture and system of thought. It is often successful and organized. Leadership may begin to feel that it is time to reap the rewards of previous years’ hard work, possibly allowing subtle signs of aging to creep in such as risk aversion, lower expectations, rigidity, emphasis on systems, and myopia (Adizes, 1999, p. 117).
Old age. Includes late Aristocracy, Recrimination, and early Bureaucracy stages. Here the manifestations of aging intensify rapidly. The system has great difficulty moving and changing, and is not up to the challenge of rejuvenation. Fear is a dominant factor affecting
rational thinking. The whole system is falling apart, unable to cope with prevailing life conditions, quickly leading to the final collapse of governance and its sub-systems.
There are two stages of the Lifecycle Theory not commented upon in this context: Courtship, where the system is not yet born, and Death, where the system ceases to exist.
While human systems build coping mechanisms appropriate for each phase of emergence, they must simultaneously prepare for the next phase. In the growing phase, this is a constant battle—reaching a higher level of consciousness and complexity, against the natural tendency to judge what is ahead by what has past. Not all organizations can manage each transition. In the Adulthood stage, it seems almost as though an organization is unconsciously preparing for old age and death. The system seeks equilibrium and to maintain status quo, clinging to coping mechanisms (Wheatley, 1999). Denial and inward focus become the way of life.
The following analysis is taken primarily from investigations made by a special committee appointed by the Parliament of Iceland into the causes of the country’s financial crisis. It is an overview of cultural, economic, and social phenomena as they relate to the Lifecycle Theory; it is not a full diagnostic analysis.
Iceland has many natural resources to offer, some of which have been exploited throughout history with dire consequences (vegetation); others have been on the brink of disaster before regulation (fish); and some, tapped more recently, are a subject of controversy (energy). Another recently tapped resource is the aesthetics of the Iceland’s environment; the resulting increase in tourism may prove to be the most valuable resource in the future, if properly utilized. There are also conditions that have been burdensome for the people living on this visible part of
the North Atlantic Ridge. Sensitive soil and vegetation, frequent volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and of course Iceland’s remote location put residents at a comparative disadvantage.
Valuable natural resources combined with isolation and harsh living conditions have historically fostered a tough, hands-on attitude in Icelanders. Their resilience, strong national identity, and sense of pride have contributed to their hard-working and competitive attitude (Althingi Parliamentary Investigation Commission, 2010a).
Hulda Thorisdottir (2010b), an expert in social psychology and member of the Special Investigation Commission, identified several key strengths contributing to Iceland’s social development. Although some of these factors were identified in studies done several years ago, most are still fully applicable even though current life conditions have changed attitudes, at least temporarily. Among Thorisdottir's conclusions were the following:
Highly homogeneous nation. Only 6% of the population are defined as immigrants, which has risen from 2.1% ten years ago. People of foreign origin have been more or less absent from the political scene and have very little formal power within the social institutions. Another indication of the high degree of homogeneity is that 88% are Christian and 79% are members of the national Lutheran Church. Most Icelanders are middle-class and received their training and education from the same state-run, centralized school system.
High level of internal alignment and trust. According to Thorisdottir , the level of trust in various areas such as social (people in general), political, and legal as measured by the European Social Survey (ESS) ranks between 3 and 4 on most measures, behind the top nations of Finland, Denmark, and Norway (p. 282).
A high degree of national identity and pride. The 1999 European Values Study showed that 98% of Icelandic respondents were either proud or very proud of being Icelanders.
This was a significantly higher score than any other nation in the study. “Icelanders are proud of their well-documented history and origin … The desire for recognition is extremely important” (p. 280).
As explained by the Althingi Special Investigation Commission (2010b) investigating the collapse: “[Icelanders have been] … driven by motivated reasoning and confirmation bias” (p. 277). This fast-forward attitude has been exacerbated by a lack of planning, poor decision making, and inadequate risk assessment. In times of trouble, the ethnocentric, trust, and groupthink factors kick in to form a massive response, either constructive or in the form of denial and wishful thinking, hoping for a happy ending (p. 278).
Iceland has a well-developed social infrastructure, with European Union regulatory framework implemented and a governance system in line with that of neighboring countries. This might lead one to believe that Iceland is in the Adolescent stage (Adizes, 1999). There were many striking examples of abnormal problems in the Icelandic culture as the financial crisis built to the crash of 2008, which are considered to have made the crisis deeper than what was experienced in most other countries (Althingi Special Investigation Commission, 2010b). The Special Investigation Commission report revealed numerous indications that as early as 2006, Iceland had slipped into a pathological condition and exhibited many of the abnormal problems mentioned in the chart below. In hindsight, the culture was obviously not prepared for the ramifications of the “new wave” financial system that had brought much freedom and privatization. Increasingly pathological developments were pointing to economic collapse, but at the time, no one publicly admitted that this was the situation.
Adizes (1999) described typical problems experienced in the Go-Go stage resulting from rapid system growth creating an imbalance between life conditions and the ability to cope with
them (p. 73). Adizes furthermore distinguished between normal problems not requiring specific intervention and abnormal problems requiring intervention, often with external help (p. 12). Some typical issues are outlined in Figure 8:
Normal Problems
Abnormal Problems
Lack of focus
High energy
Energy too thinly spread
Seeking what else to do
No boundaries on what to do
Insufficient controls and discipline
No controls and informal decision-making
Leadership’s inflated expectations
Leadership’s paranoia
Unclear communication
No communication
Hope for miracles
Reliance on miracles
Unclear responsibilities
Lack of accountability
Internal disintegration
Diminishing mutual trust and respect
Cracking infrastructure
Collapsing infrastructure
(Adizes, 1999)
Figure 8. Typical challenges and problems at the Go-Go stage
Judging from the Special Investigation Commission’s analysis of the problems of existence outlined in Figure 8, the Icelandic social system is clearly in the Go-Go stage of its lifecycle. According to Adizes (1999), the path out of the Go-Go stage and into Adolescence involves implementing firm measures to promote discipline, transparency, and sound public administration (p. 72).
Capacent Gallup conducted yearly surveys from 2002 to 2010 to measure the level of public trust toward principal Icelandic institutions such as health care, police, and the public university. Figure 9 illustrates the results:
Figure 9. Level of trust toward Icelandic public institutions 2002–2010
Despite alarming signs already evident in 2007 and early 2008, few Icelanders seemed to foresee what that was leading to, as they were fairly confident until the end. The five institutions circled in red (Banking System, SEC, Central Bank, Althingi, and City of Reykjavik) clearly indicate who was eventually blamed for the collapse: major players in the financial system and political institutions.
Economic development from 2003 until the crash was quite phenomenal, exceeding that of any other Western society. Economic prosperity had prevailed since 1991; total economic growth was 77% between 1999 and 2007. The stock market was reaching new heights every year. The priority code became more egocentric and materialistic: achieve or acquire now, sacrifice later (or never); nothing gets in the way of achievement; corporate moguls are the heroes of our times, and so on. Privately, however, as demonstrated by the Change State
Indicator survey of 2007, the public sensed something going on beneath the surface. The results of the Change State Indicator are discussed in more detail below.
According to the Special Investigation Commission’s (2010b) analysis, the strengths contributing to this phenomenal economic success proved to lead directly to the disaster of October 2008. Optimism and self-confidence led people to think that this was just a minor mishap and would correct itself soon; all basic building blocks of the society were sound; the “winner mentality” and belief in the new corporate superheroes made life extremely difficult for those who were supposed to regulate their activities (p. 278).
The report from the Special Investigation Commission concluded that:
The Working group sees the primary problem reside in the fact that in the wake of a flawed process of privatization, where inexperienced owners gained large shares, the banks were allowed to grow far beyond the ability to supervise them properly. The policy to trust the bankers to largely regulate themselves proved fatal and the culture within financial institutions severely neglected professionalism and good working practices. The supervisory institutions did not put any real pressure on the banks to downsize and public administrators and politicians were … lamed in the face of a far too powerful banking system and failed to respect their primary obligations. The prevailing social discourse about the unique success of the Icelandic bankers also facilitated the events. (Althingi Special Investigation Commission, 2010a)
The situation facing Icelanders in the pre-collapse years resembled what Nassim Nicholas Taleb (2007) described as the “turkey problem.” The turkey, confident in his status as well-fed prince of the barnyard, is compelled to revise his worldview on the Wednesday afternoon before
Thanksgiving. His staff, until then seemingly concerned only with his best interests, reveal that “the same hand that feeds you can be the one that wrings your neck” (p. 40).
In 2005, Capacent Gallup performed a pilot study using a research tool developed by Dr. Beck called the Global Values Monitor (GVM).7 The purpose of the study was to detect the primary priority codes and worldviews, or the vMemetic profile, of the Icelandic nation. A copy of the questionnaire is presented in Appendix A. In her dissertation paper, Marilyn Anne Hurlbut (1979) gave a detailed account of the development and test of the GVM questionnaire, with these additional goals:
1. Translate Graves’ theoretical levels of existence into discrete components of attitude and behavior which could then be assessed with a written test instrument
2. Create such a written instrument
3. Test the instrument for reliability and validity (p. 1).
Hurlbut concluded that her new Levels of Existence Test “meets the standards of reliability and validity accepted within psychometrics, sufficiently to recommend that it be revised and further researched” (p. 205). Developers subsequently revised the test based on Hurlbut’s recommendations.
The 2007 GVM also employed the Change State Indicator; its phases are described as follows (Beck & Cowan, 1996, p. 85):
Alpha: stable and balanced. No change is needed.
Beta: uncertainty—there is something brewing, but I don’t really know what it is.
7 Information about the survey technique and products relating to Dr. Beck’s tools can be found at
Flex: in the process of change, confident in my ability to reach New Alpha stage without major difficulties.
Gamma: anger and confusion. Problems are piling up and I can’t see any way around them. The situation is becoming overwhelming. If this condition persists, it will lead to a trapped state of mind which blocks the ability to envision change.
Delta: inspired enthusiasm, out of the Gamma situation and on a surge upward to a new, healthy state of being.
New Alpha: stability in the next priority code in response to change in life conditions.
The results of the 2007 survey done by Capacent Gallup are shown in Figure 10.
Figure 10. The situation as perceived by Icelanders in 2007
Three-quarters of the respondents felt that the situation was in the state of change, represented by Beta, Flex, Gamma, and Delta in Figure 10, but 43% of the total group defined that feeling as a Beta condition. There were clear signs of optimism in anticipation of New Alpha, in that very few thought the nation had reached the Gamma phase.
However, the level of the Beta condition reveals two fundamental features:
 Despite the society’s prosperity and general wellbeing, many respondents indicated uncertainty, sensing something fundamentally wrong with the situation
 High Beta conditions indicate a desire for change, reinforcing the lack of trust shown in Figure 9.
The GVM survey was conducted again in January 2009 using the same methodology and with a random sample. The results were strikingly different in that only 8.3% of respondents thought the social system was in the Alpha or New Alpha condition (stable) as opposed to nearly 25% in 2007. Almost 31% felt the system was in Delta (inspired enthusiasm) in 2009 as opposed to 8.8% in 2007, while Beta dropped to 27.6% in 2009 from 42.6% in 2007. These findings show the importance of this analysis for tapping into the wisdom of the people as they
Capacent Gallup Iceland, 2007
detect the early signals of disaster before it strikes. Figure 11 compares the results of the 2007 and 2009 GVM surveys:
Figure 11. Comparison of Icelanders’ perceptions 2007 and 2009
This analysis indicates that Icelanders detected signs of decline in their life circumstances. A desire for change was evident in this period, indicating evolutionary pressures and readiness for system reformation.
Capacent Gallup Iceland
6.2 The Human Capacity and Priority Codes
Figure 12. Upper right quadrant of Conscious Social Evolution model
The upper right quadrant of the Conscious Social Evolution model shown in Figure 12 deals with the social system’s capacity to cope with complexity inherent in the system, as governed by the culture’s priority codes.
Section 3 discussed the theory that there is a growing tendency away from considering strategy and change as originating in the environment, to regarding the environment as an extension of the human system. Beck (n.d.) defined a three-dimensional relationship between life conditions (problems and challenges of existence), worldview (priority codes), and beliefs and behavior, as shown in Figure 13 (reproduced with Dr. Beck’s permission).
Figure 13. Dynamics within human systems
The response is determined by how people think; capacities and inherent mental structures that form the structural coupling between human life conditions and level of existence. This is directly linked to the second and third assumptions of the research question as outlined earlier, namely:
 Responses of a human social system’s members are further affected by a desire to fulfill their basic human needs using means aligned with their values and belief systems.
 Constructive development and conscious evolution of a human social system should be tailored to its collective intellectual capacity. The culture and its underlying worldview are key to understanding how the system might respond to intervention and what is needed as a next natural step in the system’s development.
Beck 2008
With Beck’s approval, I have redrawn Figure 13 to show a circular connection, referring to Maturana and Varela’s argument that living systems are characterized by three principal features: autonomy, circularity, and self-reference, which enable them to self-create or self-renew through closed systems of relations (see Figure 14).
Figure 14. Circular self-referential relationships within human systems
Figure 14 shows how perceived problems and challenges of existence are filtered through the priority codes of the human system in question, resulting in certain beliefs about the situation and subsequent behaviors or actions. This response affects the perceived life conditions, leading to new perceived problems and challenges of existence, usually of increasing complexity, and on it goes. This evolutionary process is not really circular, but a spiral, as each new life condition produced by the prevailing thinking system is more complex than the last.
Before applying the Assembly Process to a social system, there must be an understanding of the system’s mode of perception regarding challenges, as this affects its capacity to cope with those challenges. As noted earlier, although the Assembly Process may be universally applied, there are nuances to the design that must take into account the prevailing worldview of the human system involved.
I have outlined Iceland’s problems of existence using the frameworks of the Adizes Lifecycle Theory and the upper left quadrant of the Conscious Social Evolution model. It is argued that a similar analysis of a different social system would, while showing different results, serve the same purpose: understanding the challenges the system faces and the demands on its mental capacities.
The analysis of the Icelandic society’s life conditions indicated that it began to function pathologically during its rapid and unexpected growth, experiencing abnormal problems including massive denial. Adizes’ Lifecycle Theory outlined what might be a natural path for a system to self-correct: that is, the next stage of growth needed to cope with life conditions created by the prevailing thinking system.
This section will use the Spiral Dynamics Theory (SDi) to study how a human system’s level of existence affects its ability to cope with its problems and complexities. SDi is a systems theory approach to understanding stability and change in individuals and human social systems. Originally developed by Dr. Clare W. Graves, former professor emeritus of psychology at Union College, New York, and further developed by Dr. Don Beck, the theory has been successfully applied for many years across a variety of contexts.
SDi refers to the developmental trajectory of emerging existential values as a set of value memes (vMemes). Another term for this is priority codes. These emerge from a dialectic between the human capacity and life conditions including time, place, problems, and circumstances. SDi does not state that sufficient conditions must be exactly identified for a vMeme to emerge, but holds that a an individual or social system reaches a level of complexity that will, over time, exceed its ability to handle. Thus, it must add a new layer to its mental capacity in the form of a new vMeme if it is to successfully evolve.
6.3 Analysis of the Priority Codes and Ways of Thinking in Iceland
Spiral Dynamics explains the human social system’s bio/psycho/social evolution as it is governed by collective thought, which originates from its priority codes. As the system evolves, it must cope with ever-increasing complexity. Greater complexity requires more complex thinking systems capable of producing new, advanced coping mechanisms. In light of that, the core purpose of large-scale communicative engagement should be to facilitate reaching the next vMeme level in order to cope with a new level of existence.
Beck and Cowan (1996) stated:
Templates outline the most natural design for people, technology and work to accomplish specific outcomes … We use “template” metaphorically to describe an adjustable overlay, an expanding and contracting map, and a graphic image for the flow or organizational energy, relationships among processes, decision time-lines and work streams. (p. 172)
There are also invisible webs that “order society and snare relationships,” representing locations along the spiral with their own “mental configuration like a radar scope on which the contours of its ideal life form are painted” (Beck & Cowan, 1996, p. 172).
Although Graves did not consider one “style of being” superior than others in every circumstance (realities of existence benefiting from some flexibility), he maintained that “the prime good of any society’s governing figures should be to promote human movement up the levels of human existence” (Strong, 2009, p. 285).
As earlier explained, the Spiral Dynamics Theory refers to priority codes (the product of the interactions between life conditions and the human capacity to adapt to the problems of existence) as vMemes, the core adaptive intelligence that shapes the human system. These
vMemes are prioritized and color-coded for communication purposes in Figure 15; the color codes are important when reading the results of the surveys outlined later in this section, but do not otherwise have a particular meaning.
Figure 15. Overview of vMemes or priority codes
According to the theory of Spiral Dynamics, a human system develops through increasing levels of complexity in thinking and responding to life conditions. The development is not shown as a curve, but rather as a spiral, where priority codes add layers of complexity as the system matures. As a society evolves along its spiral (Beck & Cowan, 1996), each new priority code is in conflict with the previous one until all of the priority codes are in balance. That occurs when coherence is achieved and the codes operate in in harmony. These priority codes form in early stages of life, and it is not a simple matter to change them later. Lipton has
Beck 2008
defined this coding as an iterative formula: input produces an output, which becomes the new input, which comes out as a slightly different output, and so it goes as we slowly become programmed for greater complexity. In a natural emergence, this iterative process promotes evolution for the good of the human system (Lipton, personal communication, May 2010). If the system fails to respond to increasingly complex life conditions by transcending its previous systems, it will experience increasingly dramatic conflicts with the life conditions around it.
Beck and Cowan related priority codes to various life conditions and the typical human responses to them in Figure 16:
If the life conditions are heavily…
…then “sensible” people will…
1.0 BEIGE: a state of nature
act much like other animals
2.0 PURPLE: mysterious and frightening
placate spirits and join together for safety
3.0 RED: tough and dangerous like a jungle
fight to survive in spite of what others want
4.0 BLUE: directed by a higher power
obey higher authority, be faithful to the Truth
5.0 ORANGE: full of viable alternatives
pragmatically test for advantages to succeed
6.0 GREEN: shared habit of all humanity
join community to experience shared growth
7.0 YELLOW: at risk of chaotic collapse
learn how to be free but also principled
8.0 TURQUOISE: a single living entity
seek the order beneath Earth’s apparent chaos
Figure 16. Human response to life conditions
The relationship between circumstance and response may be traced to the origins of humanity; life conditions and responses have changed from those similar to animals to those of our modern, ultra-complex environment, which requires a much more eloquent skillset and mental capacity to cope.
Beck & Cowan 1996
Figure 17. Direction of change in the Icelandic way of thinking 2007
In 2007, the majority of the respondents felt that the culture in Iceland was moving toward egocentricity, exploitation, and materialism. This is congruent with the assumption made using the Lifecycle Theory, that the Icelandic society was in the Go-Go stage of development (see Section 6.1). The excessive movement in these directions may be attributed to the nation’s extraordinary financial success and bold acquisitions made by Icelandic corporations abroad. The more sociocentric Bonding (purple), Purpose (blue), and Humanism (green) were obviously suffering from huge pressure from Egocentrism and Enterprise codes.
Figure 18 shows how respondents ranked priority codes on a scale of one to seven, one being the most important and seven the least:
Capacent Gallup, Iceland
Figure 18. Priority codes in order of importance to Icelanders 2007
The results indicate a sort of bipolar situation, where the bonding, egocentric, and materialistic mentalities are strong, the sense of purpose is still reasonably strong, but sociocentric priority codes are being suppressed. This confirms the theory that, among other factors, the effects of place (country, natural forces, cultural history, geographical isolation) have shaped the worldview of Icelanders toward a fiercely self-sufficient independence; it also reinforces the conclusion reached using the Lifecycle Theory that the society was in the Go-Go stage.
A study done by Capacent Gallup four months after the financial collapse compares the results of the 2007 and 2009 surveys, illustrated in Figure 19:
Figure 19. Direction of change in the Icelandic way of thinking 2009
This shows a clear movement toward the relativistic/sociocentric priority codes focusing on consensus, equality, and responding to feelings. The previously dominant Egocentrism and Enterprise are also emphasized, but clearly losing ground. This increased emphasis on Humanism was no surprise to those following the post-collapse political debate that led to a change of government in early 2009.
Figure 20. Priority codes in order of importance to Icelanders 2009
Strong Egocentrism and Enterprise combined with a significantly weaker Purpose continues to be of concern, indicating a lack of regeneration of the nation’s mindset in this necessary direction. The Humanism vMeme gets higher priority while Purpose is rated lowest. While the Humanism vMeme promotes tolerance, flexibility, and general lenience, it is not likely to provide the strong response needed to counter the dominance of Egocentrism and Enterprise. On the other hand, the Purpose vMeme (conformity to and belief in a cause, truth, or conviction and making sacrifices in favor of a better future) seems the natural antidote to restore balance. Purpose having received lowest priority despite the collapse of a national financial system has profound implications for policymaking, and must be given careful attention when considering the conclusions of the National Assembly, as will be discussed later.
This profile echoes the distinctly tribal mentality inherent in the country’s culture, suggesting a lack of accountability and discipline (blue) to counter the “I do as I please” mentality (red) and liberal stance toward laws and regulations (orange). It further reveals a lack
of clear purpose and vision, traits of the Purpose “sacrifice now for later reward” code. Based on these findings, it is argued that a national visioning effort is of pivotal significance as a restorative element.
6.4 The Beliefs and Behavior Point of View
In 2007, Capacent Gallup performed a study on my behalf investigating the Icelanders’ impression of their mentality as a society, as illustrated in Figure 21:
Figure 21. Icelanders’ impressions of their society’s mentality
The society’s prevailing life conditions were still considered to be improving when this survey was conducted in 2007. These results, specifically strong optimism, new and fresh attitude, perception of abundant resources, open to future, individualistic, exciting and energetic, and high risk taking, point to the Go-Go stage of development.
It may not come as a surprise that the combination of extraordinary financial opportunities and egocentric, materialistic priority codes prevalent before the financial crisis led to Iceland being hit harder than most other Western economies. However, the same bold dauntlessness of the Icelandic culture will greatly assist in its economic recovery.
Capacent Gallup Iceland, 2007
Martin Gardner (Shermer, 2010), founder and leader of the Modern Skeptical Movement in the United States, maintained that there is a human nature common to all individuals (versus cultural or moral relativism), and that one could judge a society and its moral system by the degree to which it maximizes or satisfies the basic needs of its members.
National Values Assessments were performed in 2008 (see Appendix D) and again in 2010 using Richard Barrett’s (2006) methodology. The assessments measured not only participants’ personal values, but the gap between what they perceived to be prevailing cultural values and the values these respondents desired for their future.
The discrepancy between the perceived current state of affairs and the desired future state can be defined as the degree to which people fear that their needs will not be met. The 2008 study revealed a large gap between current and desired states; the 2010 survey showed an even worse picture, coinciding with the Beta and Gamma stages depicted in Figure 10.
This supports the argument that, despite the public‘s general sense that something was wrong, there was a complete failure to recognize the malfunctioning of the society prior to and immediately following the financial crisis. These factors greatly increased the fear of insufficiency in the popluation, worsening the underlying tension and resulting in violence in the weeks following the financial crisis.
7.0. Communicative Engagement and Transformative Action
7.1 Forming a Vision for the Human Social System of Iceland
This section of the Conscious Social Evolution model refers to the lower right quadrant of the CSE model as shown in Figure 22, based on the following research assumptions:
3. Constructive development of a human social system should be tailored to its collective intellectual capacity.
4. Properly evaluating the system’s collective intelligence requires an authentic public space, sufficient and representative diversity of subjects, and proven methods of qualitative inquiry.
Figure 22. Lower right quadrant of Conscious Social Evolution model
As governance of social systems such as nation states become more complex over time, the distance between the citizenry and the social structures built for their benefit tends to grow. This results in a sense of victimization in citizens and a loss of accountability in leaders, as an increasingly centralized government fails to meet the expectations of the people it is intended to serve.
Mike Jay identified six factors in social change, each of which operates at a different speed:
 Core: the basic social operating system
 Culture: the solution set; that is, response systems and priority codes manifested in beliefs and behaviors
 Code: algorithm developed through learning and evolving human consciousness
 Conditions: intensity of the situation or change
 Context: perception of reality based on a frame of reference
 Content: the actual representation of reality as we perceive it (personal communication, May, 2010)
As scientific and technological advances enable us to create new systems and realities at an ever faster pace, the development of content is exponentially faster than development of the other dimensions, as illustrated in Figure 23:
Figure 23. Levels of social complexity over time
The discrepancy between content (an increasingly intricate social reality) and the society’s tools for coping with these changes creates a dangerous incoherence (Beck & Cowan, 1996). The goal, of course, is not to hold the advancement of the society down to the level of its existing culture, but to grow the society’s core, culture, and code at a pace that does not generate destructive conflict (Beck & Cowan, 1996; Adizes, 1996; Jay, 2010).
A number of societies at a similar level of growth as Iceland have moved toward technocracy, where all major input for public policymaking is in the hands of specialists and the public is not trusted to interfere in the process. This study proposes that it should be the other way around: “specialists” should not be trusted to reign over the evolution of a society. It is evident that there are great social imbalances and biases in most industrialized societies, and that changes are necessary in these human systems to promote resilience, health, and sustainability.
Levels of social complexity over time
Mike Jay 2010
7.2 The Potential of Communicative Engagement for Social Analysis and Visioning
Social institutions created after the settlement of Iceland were effective in meeting the needs of the people, but as the culture grew in complexity, they began to focus more on gathering and preserving power of the few. David Bohm (1994) maintained that nations are established by thought and that all emergent human systems are planned and conceived by an individual or individuals governed by their thoughts and ideas; our thoughts command us as individuals with various, interrelated systemic and sub-systemic factors. In Iceland’s case, thought seems to have inadvertently damaged the original system and created a disconnect between government and the public it was intended to serve. Societies are also a composition of collective thoughts with similarly interrelated environmental, cultural, systemic, and sub-systemic factors. Thought is our being, or as Bohm (1994) put it:
… thought is not merely the intellectual activity; rather it is one connected process which includes feeling and the body, and so on … we call that process a “system”—a whole system in which every part is dependent on every other part. (p. 42)
A related theory of human thought was explained by Lynda Gratton in her book, Living Strategy (2000):
Human time is felt in two ways. First, by the ticking of the human clock, by the stages of human development, by the time it takes to build commitment and inspiration. Second, by our deep immersion in time, in the memories and commitments of the past, in the excitement of the present, and in the dreams and hopes of the future. We are not creatures of the moment. On the contrary, each of us has our own personal history and memory which influence the way we see our world and the expectations and hopes we have for it. (p. 13)
This is significant in that the key to anticipate the future and prepare the system to change is our foresight, which is affected by our experience of the past, a narrative knowledge. As Tsoukas explains: “Narratives not only allow for multiple connections among events across time, they also preserve multiple temporalities. As well as being linked to clock time, narrative time is primarily humanly relevant time” (Gratton, 2000, p. 255).
Gratton (2000) further noted the ways that our thinking processes operate in time:
 Past beliefs, hopes, and commitments influence our current behavior: the “memory of the past”
 Current behavior is influenced by beliefs about what will happen in the future: the “memory of the future”
 Skills and knowledge take many years to develop
 Human development progresses through a shared sequence
 Attitudes and values are resistant to rapid change (p. 16)
We have a tendency to judge the future by the past, evident in statements such as “We have tried this before,” “Every cloud has a silver lining,” “There is nothing to worry about, this is not the first time,” and so on. If our thoughts delude us into perceiving a situation differently than it actually is, we may find a very serious trap awaiting us.
The Assembly Process is a way to take participants out of their accustomed thought patterns and give them a fresh look at their situation. It helps them to not only envision a desired future, but shape their thoughts toward making that future a reality.
7.3 The Nation’s Values
The first question put to the 2009 Assembly participants was, What core values do we want to base our future society on? Their top choices were:
 Honesty
 Respect
 Justice
 Equality
 Responsibility
 Freedom
 Charity
 Family
Although done in a slightly different fashion, a quantitative survey in 2008 called the Culture Values Assessment that used Barrett’s Values Test Methodology (see Appendix D) yielded similar results. Family, honesty, and responsibility were among the ten most highly rated values, along with others in the same vein such as friendship, positive attitude, trust, fairness, and accountability. The 2008 survey differed from the Assembly Process in that participants chose values from a list, as opposed to the open-ended question posed at the Assembly.
7.4 A Model for Intervention Emerging from the Data and its Categories
During the 2009 National Assembly, after their survey responses were gathered and categorized by the participants themselves at each table, an expert committee analyzed the categories for common themes. They identified Economy, Education, Environment, Welfare, Family, Public Administration, Equality, Sustainability, and an open category called New Iceland. Many of these themes would require involvement of social institutions to effect change.
A National Assembly held in a culture different than Iceland’s will likely generate different predominant themes. Therefore, I reassessed the main conclusions of the 2009
Assembly to produce a more generic model for monitoring the causality chain within a human social system, resulting in the following thesis:
Nation building occurs in a sequence of evolving systems, each more complex than the last. Each evolving system is a natural successor to the previous systems (Beck & Cowan, 1996). The foundational stratum that defines us by where we come from and how we fill our most basic needs consists of:
 Place: habitat, natural resources, and ecology
 Culture: shared characteristics, values, and practices of the society
 Human factors: family, education, healthcare, and social welfare
As the society grows in complexity, a new stratum that encompasses what we create for our living emerges. The elements include:
 Governance: administration of social order and provision of public services as determined by the community
 Business: profit-seeking enterprise necessary to provide the material needs of the population
Some of the data in Figure 24 is associated with the slower-moving core, culture, and code factors of social change, and others with condition, context, and content. In fact, I argue that the model, if read from left to right, is very much following this intensity of change, with the lowest intensity in the category of place and highest in the economic sector. Code and culture are part of culture, while context, condition, and content are in the flow from human factors to economics.
Copyright 2009 Bjarni S. Jonsson
Figure 24. The Social Stratification model: forces of social evolution
Whether responding to an existing imbalance in the elements of social evolution or attempting to avert potential conflicts, the goal is not for each element to evolve at the same rate, as this is never feasible. A society’s closely-held values regarding the importance of family, for example, will always be slower to change than the influence of a major employer on the same community, should important policy changes affecting the workforce occur. A more realistic goal is for synchronicity in the growth of slower- and faster-changing elements.
7.5 Place
Residents of areas such as Iceland who deal with volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and potentially deadly weather are greatly affected not only physically, but mentally by their surroundings. As Harm de Blij (2009) stated, “All of us are blessed as well as burdened by the
ManifestationsSustainable Natural HabitatBalanced Worldview, High Ethical StandardsReal DemocracyProsperityHigh Level of Alignment and IntegrationPlaceNatural HabitatNatural ResourcesEcologyCultureValue SystemsThe ArtsBeliefs and Behavior (values)BusinessInnovationValue CreationWorkplaceGovernanceDemocracyStructureOperationsPoliciesHuman FactorsFamily and UpbringingEducationHealthcareSocial WelfareThe Social Stratification Model—Forces of Social Evolution—Visionary ViewEnvironmentalpolicySustainablenaturalresourcesRespectHuman rightsFreedom ofspeechWelfareSocialresponsibilityFreedom AccountabilityBusiness ethicsDiversityEqualityHonestyOptimismWellbeingSustainabilityEmploymentopportunitiesFinancial stabilityPoliticsCultureEconomicsEnvironment
baggage of place—our place of birth, our mother tongue, of belief systems and conditions of health, of environmental norms and political circumstances” (p. 4).
In his book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, Jared Diamond (2005) defined five determinants for the failure of societies, four of which are geographical:
 Environmental damage caused by people; they lose touch with their natural habitat, underestimate its vulnerability, and exploit it for their own benefit
 Environmental damage external to people’s direct influence
 Hostile neighbors; although applicable to most societies throughout history, less so to Iceland due to its isolation
 Decreased support from friendly neighbors, which can be detrimental to economic stability
 And finally, “the ubiquitous question of the society’s responses to its problems, whether those problems are environmental or not” (pp. 11-14)
7.6 Culture
Culture can be defined as the shared characteristics, values and practices of a society.
In Section 6, the evolutionary forces as seen through the theory of Spiral Dynamics were discussed, where priority codes (defined as the product of the interactions between life conditions and the human capacity to adapt to the problems of existence) shape the core adaptive intelligence of a human system. Referring to this theory, I argue that the concept of life conditions is a constant and iterative co-creation involving the place of existence on one hand and the priority codes constituting the built-in human response system on the other.
So, at the junction of place and culture, there is constant movement and evolution. When these two elements become misaligned, the results can be disastrous. An example from Iceland’s history illustrates:
Iceland is believed to have been settled around AD 900 by people from the south, mostly Norway and the British Isles. Ari Frodi wrote in the twelfth century that their new home was “covered with wood from shore to mountain” (Thorgilsson, 1953, p. 2). The settlers used the land as they had in the old country, not realizing the greater vulnerability of the new landscape. Diamond (2005) stated:
… the settlers eventually discovered that they were not living off of Iceland’s ecological annual interest, but that they were drawing down the accumulated capital of soil and vegetation that had taken ten thousand years to build up, and much of which the settlers exhausted in a few decades or even within a year. (p.199)
This misalignment of place and culture resulted in land erosion unheard of before. The disaster no doubt contributed to Iceland’s loss of independence in 1262 and its transformation from a land of prosperity, education, and culture to being one of the poorest countries in Europe.
7.7 Human Factors
It is interesting to note that the Icelandic word for family is “fjolskylda,” literally translated as “multiduty.” Many childrearing duties that were once the responsibility of family are now assigned to institutions, such as childcare and education. As children approach adolescence, new cognitive and aesthetic needs come into play that are provided by culture and art, political engagement, and work experience. Adulthood brings new concerns for safety, security, and healthcare; at the end of the lifecycle when physical and mental abilities fade,
social welfare or other type of safety net is called for (again once the responsibility of family, now largely that of social institutions).
7.8 Governance
An example of governance as a derivative of place, culture, and human factors comes from Iceland’s history. At its settlement in AD 900, order was maintained by tribal chieftains. Their patriarchal governance via parliament (the Althingi) was successful for over 300 years, but there was no overall governance to represent the nation to foreign leaders, making Iceland ultimately vulnerable to outside political gamesmanship. When the feudal system began to falter, its demise coincided with the devastating erosion of the land and facilitated Iceland’s surrender to Norway in the eleventh century.
The governance system must be a cohesive product of place, culture, and human factors. If it does not operate at the same level of complexity, but develops independently in its own organizational lifecycle, there is danger of losing touch with the people and ending in collapse.
7.9 Business
Ideally, business optimizes human skills and the natural resources of place for the good of the entire community; however, the narrow quest for profit at the expense of human values contributed significantly to the downfall of Iceland’s economy in 2008.
In order for business to create an environment where its workforce can thrive, it must sacrifice short-term profitability for workers’ family obligations, healthcare, education, and related needs. Governance also has a role in supporting a climate where business can thrive: enforce reasonable and fair regulations, without succumbing to the lure of micromanagement.
7.10 Assembly Data and the Social Stratification Model
Following are some of the conclusions reached at the 2009 National Assembly as they relate to the Social Stratification model. The data used for the analysis is comprised of points specifically chosen by the participants themselves in a voting process. In choosing the data points, it was deemed sufficient that each point had been chosen by a minimum of one individual; no attempt was made to prioritize based on the number of participants choosing the data point. Participants were seated at 192 tables; thus, the number of votes at one table would not have represented any collective view. However, the fact that any one participant chose the data point, out of three available, is considered to have minimized bias as much as possible.
 Place
o Nature. Preserve the delicate and unique nature of Iceland. This objective spans the whole model; promoting this awareness from birth via family values, and then through the educational system, will result in this being ingrained into the governance and economic sub-systems.
o Utilization of natural resources. Develop a more socially just system of assigning the rights to utilize resources, including the fishing quota. Limit availability of cheap energy to heavy-use industries and promote hydro- and geothermal power sources for sustainability and nature preservation.
o Ecology. Promote environmental consciousness, balance between man and nature, sensible use of natural resources, and set a worldwide example in environmental matters. Accelerate use of clean domestic energy for transport to reduce the use of fossil fuel.
 Culture
o Priority codes. There are correlations between the themes that emerged at the 2009 National and the vMemes of Spiral Dynamics. The visions expressed by Assembly participants point to balanced priorities and stronger values, goals that are fundamental to further growth of the society.
o The arts. Sustain Iceland’s rich cultural heritage and its language. Build an image of Iceland as the land of culture and art.
o Beliefs and behavior. Among Assembly participants’ most highly-rated values were honesty, respect, trust, equality, charity, justice, responsibility, equal opportunities, freedom, and family. As Icelanders’ confidence in their future grows, it is to be expected that day-to-day decisions will align more closely with the strengthened values and balanced priorities gained as a result of their national struggle.
 Human Factors
o Family and upbringing. Strengthen the role and responsibility of the family (in this context, the family as social institution was the Assembly’s focus) as the basic building block for childcare and upbringing. Protect children’s rights.
o Education and learning. Emphasize participation and building of life skills rather than the “we make you take,” induction approach of the state-run, centralized school system. Emphasize entrepreneurship, innovation, vocational training, and education tailored to students’ aptitudes. Provide early education in the importance of community, democracy, and economic/environmental sustainability.
o Healthcare. Greater emphasis on preventive measures, thereby reducing the need to deal with consequences. Secure efficient healthcare system that is accessible to all regardless of income. Early detection and mediation of health risks in children.
o Social welfare. Provide strong support and care for the elderly. Design a long-term strategy to organize our welfare system and establish a safety net for those in need.
 Governance
o Democracy. Active, real, strong, and transparent were key words used at the Assembly on the subject of democracy. Eliminate the electoral college and establish personal election of public officials. Encourage more frequent public referenda and active involvement of the general public in decision making, now more feasible due to advanced communications technologies. Scrutinize and demand transparency in interactions between government and influential stakeholders. Cultivate informed public dialogue.
o Structure. Formalize structure of the legislative, executive, and judicial powers. Establish clear roles and responsibilities so that they operate independently and without interference from each other. Organize a Constitutional Assembly to construct a new Constitution that will be binding for the Althingi. (This did happen in the months following the 2009 National Assembly, the process beginning with a National Assembly being organized almost exactly a year later.)
o Operations. Three key words emerged from the Assembly discussions on this subject: transparency, accountability, and service. Establish public service that
can withstand scrutiny. Eliminate secretive dealings between political parties, cronyism, and catering to prominent citizens’ interests. Strengthen regulatory institutions and secure real political accountability. Increase the influence and capacities of the judicial system.
o Policies. Establish greater equality in distribution of income. Improve living conditions in rural areas to promote settlement throughout the country. Participate actively and responsibly in international cooperation. Ensure human rights and equality of all citizens regardless of gender, physical or mental abilities, ethnic background, age, or religion. Focus on law enforcement to maintain a safe environment for all. Define financial measures to serve family objectives. Focus on research and development for sustainable solutions in transport and industry.
 Business
o Innovation. Increase emphasis on research, basic science, and technology. Make research and development a cornerstone of the society. Support entrepreneurship to create value from fresh sources. Strengthen design and art as primary drivers of innovation.
o Value creation. Emphasize sustainable value creation, promote stewardship and national ownership of natural resources. Actively participate in international business and implement a sustainable strategy to attract foreign investors.
o Workplace. Advocate a workplace where everyone participates and different jobs are valued more equally. Ensure that qualification is the basis for hiring, not kinship or special interests. Improve balance between work and family through
fewer and flexible working hours. Improve work ethics and promote lifelong learning.
 Summary and conclusions. The following comprehensive vision for the future spans the Social Stratification model:
o Preserve the country’s generous but sensitive natural resources; ensure sustainable utilization and fair distribution of rights for use.
o Restore a common worldview based on integrative thinking and balance among priority codes to support the needs of the people.
o Keep the family strong and a cornerstone of society. Promote participation and achievement in education rather than impotent induction methods. Foster a strong sense of accountability, good citizenship, and capacity to embrace diversity among the people from an early age. Secure continued equal access to public services such as education, healthcare, welfare, and elder care.
o Reorganize public administration and governance to a three-tier power system (legislative, executive, and judicial) that is disciplined, autonomous, transparent, and future-oriented.
o Emphasize value creation through innovation and prudent utilization of all the land has to offer, both tangible and intangible. Build a healthy and socially responsible corporate sector guided by the core values of the people, strong ethics, and stewardship.
Figure 25 is a graphical representation of these aspirations:
Figure 25. A vision for Iceland using the Social Stratification model
Place Our existence is based on our natural habitat (Core)
Culture which, with integral worldview, (Culture)
Human Factors builds resilient human capacities (Code, Conditions)
Governance to create shared systems (Context)
Business and secures sustainability and prosperity for all (Content)
8.0 Strategic Intervention in Large-Scale Social Systems
This chapter discusses taking the results of a National Assembly to the policymaking level with reference to the lower left quadrant of the CSE model, as shown in Figure 26.
Figure 26. Lower left quadrant of Conscious Social Evolution model
This quadrant of the CSE model addresses the fifth research assumption: “New policies and suggestions for action are more likely to be accepted if grounded in the social system’s core intelligence.” Although the subject requires further research, and the remainder of this section focuses on data from the 2009 National Assembly, the 2010 public dialogue held in anticipation of rewriting Iceland’s National Constitution is worth noting.
The Parliament called for the same citizen engagement methodology as the 2009 National Assembly to create a proposal for a new Constitution. The proposal was put to public referendum in October 2012, where two-thirds of the voters accepted it as a basis for rewriting the Constitution. Further information on the referendum may be found at,_2012 .
8.1 Detecting the Interconnectedness
How, then, could this data be used to develop a national (community) strategy? Dr. Bruce LaRue, a consultant for major organizations in the private and public sectors such as aerospace, wireless telecommunications, and the US Department of Defense and co-author of the
book Leading Organizations from the Inside Out (LaRue, Childs, & Larson, 2006), has developed a highly relevant model of strategic thinking called The Strategy Triangle:
Figure 27. The Strategy Triangle
It is not uncommon to focus on how to solve a problem without paying sufficient attention to what or why. The first step is to clearly identify the purpose or solution criteria (what), then define a clear rationale for change (why), and finally decide, in Dr. LaRue’s words, “where to put the crowbar” (how). The idea is that the purpose (strategic direction and intent) is formulated by identifying the criteria by which a solution can be generated. This may be applied to the National Assembly as follows:
One of Iceland’s main goals is to preserve the natural habitat so that it will continue to be the basis of good living for generations to come. The questions then are:
1. What are the critical factors needed in order to accomplish this? One critical factor (of many) is Icelanders’ worldview in support of stewardship, accountability, discipline, and future thinking.
LaRue 2010
2. Why is that important? The situation analysis has shown weaknesses in the prevailing worldview of Iceland; there are clear indications of what must be focused on in the Icelandic society to reach a higher level of complexity in that regard. In lifecycle terms, it is to transform from being a Go-Go culture to a more structured and systematic Adolescent culture (Adizes, 1999). In Spiral Dynamics terminology, we must strengthen the Purpose code, which is arguably the flaw preventing the society from implementing sustainable methods of using its natural resources (Beck & Cowan, 1996).
3. How should that be done? Figure 28 is an example of a critical path spanning the Social Stratification model. Figure 29 is my perspective on how these initiatives are interconnected:
Figure 28. An example of critical path for a more sustainable evolution
While conducting research for this paper, I was granted a research license for a software application called Parmenides EIDOSTM, which “support[s] reasoning processes required for solving problems, reaching and communicating decisions in environments which are characterized by high degrees of complexity, uncertainty and usually a controversy character.”8
The EIDOS package is a sophisticated software tool for complex data analysis and linking information between strata and stakeholders. Although further research is required, I am
convinced that a tool of this nature will open new possibilities for transforming qualitative inquiry data into strategic wisdom and actionable policy.
Figure 29 shows a greatly simplified example of how data could be handled within a complex decision-making framework. It is a sample case, using real data from the Social Stratification model, to explore interdependencies between categories. Positive numbers indicate positive relationships, while negative numbers indicate negative relationships. Comparisons between the same categories are shown as blank, which is also why the first category “Place” is absent on the horizontal axis and the last category “Business” is absent on the vertical axis.
Figure 29. Interdependencies of sample objectives
The Parmenides Foundation
Using the Social Stratification model, the data is grouped into the following categories:
Figure 30. Sample strategic objectives from 2009 Assembly
The Parmenides Foundation
The Parmenides Foundation
The software calculated 100 possible combinations and ranked them according to degree of consistency (fit) as shown in Figure 31. Combinations with similar degrees of interdependency were shown as clusters of strategic alternatives. Numbers in circles represent the combination number generated by the software, while the colored dots were those with the best fit.
Figure 31. Possible combinations of sample strategic objectives
This simplified version of Assembly data yields 6,300 combinations; the complete matrix of all Assembly data is considerably more complex, involving 57 million unique combinations.
8.2 Evolution and Change
Dr. Adizes (1992) has developed a model for implementing change that is another crucial factor in the natural design of a human system: CAPI (Coalesced Authority, Power and Influence). The elements are illustrated in Figure 32:
The Parmenides Foundation
Figure 32. The CAPI Theory
 Authority: the legal right to make certain decisions (p. 109), the authority to say yes and no, often given to one through title or position within the hierarchy
 Power: the capability, not the right, to punish and/or reward (p. 117). I define this in a managerial context as the capability to affect the outcome (success or failure) of implementing a decision. POWER is what AUTHORITY needs to carry out a decision; these two are often combined in one person, but in some cases AUTHORITY needs others to help implement the decision.
 Influence: the capability, not the right, to make another person do something without using authority or power (p. 120). This role is gained through superior knowledge that influences those who do not have the same knowledge. Without INFLUENCE, implementation will not succeed because there is a lack of knowledge about key
aspects, or the AUTHORITY and/or POWER lack sufficient confidence to implement a decision.
In an organizational setting, those with authority, power, and influence may be in a typical top-down hierarchy and thus readily identified. In a social setting, the roles are not as obvious and will not necessarily come with an official title; they are not assigned as in an organizational setting and must be “earned” through collaboration of multiple stakeholders. The arena is further complicated by the fact that most of these potential stakeholders perceive themselves as autonomous, and many serve special interests.
The CAPI theory applied to the rewriting of Iceland’s Constitution may be illustrated, in an ideal scenario, as shown in Figure 33:
Figure 33. CAPI Theory applied to the rewriting of Iceland’s Constitution
During the process of constitutional revision, developments indicate that the three elements were not connected; CAPI was never established. This resulted in a lack of integration and stalemate in the discussion (mostly regarding form rather than substance). The resulting stalemate between Parliament and the Constitutional Council created great controversy in the nation. Further research is needed to develop ways to establish CAPI in a social setting and maintain mutual trust among stakeholders.
Adizes (1996) also defined what he called a “pre-problem” (p. 136), which is when there is lack of trust and an essential participants do not perceive for some reason that there is a problem to solve, or if so does not think it is their problem; and a pre-pre-problem, when an INFLUENCE sees a problem but has neither the authority nor power to solve it, and cannot get the attention of an AUTHORITY to solve it (p. 142). This is often the case in complex or fragmented
systems where it is unclear where authority lies; in this scenario, INFLUENCE must create a sense of urgency to get AUTHORITY and POWER to act.
Gleicher’s Change Formula, C=D*V*F>R, can be of use here:
Change (C) will occur when sufficient dissatisfaction (D) with the current system exists, when everyone has a clear vision (V) of the goals for the future, and when it is clear what first steps (F) can be taken to move the system in the direction of the vision. All three elements must be in place and must be greater than the resistance to change (R) that is present in the organization in order for change to occur. (Bunker & Alban, 1997, p. 71)
Key questions are: (1) Who are the change stakeholders and what are their expectations and demands? (2) What will the strategy add to the community (nation)? and (3) What long-term environmental and/or societal impact could the project have?
It is of vital importance, when attempting a complex strategic intervention involving diverse stakeholders, that the process be fully transparent to secure trust among stakeholders and communicate a strong sense of purpose and goals. The XYZ Template (Beck & Cowan, 1996) shown in Figure 34 is yet another tool which seems fully complementary to the above discussion:
Figure 34. The XYZ Template
The X template represents the critical path; the Y template is stakeholders and their action needed to support the critical path; the Z template is the overall picture or Social Change model, which secures transparency and common purpose.
9.0 Areas for Further Research
There are multiple areas for research to build on the experiences of the two Iceland National Assemblies, to verify methods used in the process and to examine the process in the larger context of social change.
9.1 Research Opportunities Relating to the Assembly Process
Sampling and invitation. When an invitee to the 2009 Assembly declined to attend, no particular effort was made to solicit an alternate participant with the same profile, which resulted in a skewed demographic profile compared with the nation as a whole. Steps were taken to correct this flaw in the procedure for the 2010 Constitutional National Assembly. The change from random to quota sampling and how to best accommodate for low turnout, and thus potential profile bias, requires further study. The sample drawn in both cases was large enough to accommodate for the expected 20% turnout and all invitees were contacted by phone to facilitate registration, but limitations and possible biases remain, as mentioned earlier.
Participants’ profiles. Further research into participants’ profiles beyond their demographics, such as political beliefs and priority codes, will be useful. National Assemblies participants were assigned a number that was not linked to their name in any way, thus guaranteeing anonymity, before they answered questions regarding age, gender and place. Making further inquiries as to their political beliefs and priority codes would have been simple, but such questioning is sensitive and the way it is done to detect the actual orientation of the crowd needs careful planning and development.
Data capture and registration. After two national-scale events and many smaller ones using the same methodology, there has been ample opportunity to refine the method of data registration. Following the first Assembly, the registration took several weeks to finish, whereas
following the 2010 Assembly, all data was registered the same evening. Despite this improvement, however, further research into the integrity of the data is fully warranted.
Organizing National Assemblies for specific policymaking. The 2009 Assembly was designed for national visioning and brainstorming; no predetermined issues were on the table for discussion. The 2010 Assembly was more specific in that it dealt with the revision of the Constitution of Iceland. Still, the subject was broad and participants were not given any particular issues to discuss beforehand. Such large dialogue events are useful as a sounding board for political debate on matters specific social issues; however, preserving the authenticity of the public sphere to avoid manipulation warrants further investigation.
Further research on the data. The vast amount of data from the two Assemblies, organized according to age, gender and place, has been made publicly available. This is rich material for research into connecting opinions to demographic profiles.
9.2 Techniques for Further Research
 Further study of methods for sustaining momentum in collaboration such as linking the physical and electronic space.9
o Processes becoming available with communications technologies, but not universally applicable and rely on technical infrastructure. Will involve CAPI (Coalesced Authority, Power and Influence) for implementation.
 The Social Stratification model as a framework for public policymaking
 Use of software to organize qualitative data to build a holistic national strategy
9 Progress in these areas has already begun; see examples at and
Given the current turmoil and evolutionary streams in many parts of the world, further research of the implications of an Assembly Process in seeking guidance from the general public would seem worthwhile.
9.3 Transferring an Assembly’s Outcome to Policymaking
Transferring the outcome of a National Assembly into public policy warrants extensive research in itself. Keeping the data authentic through a deliberation process is very difficult, and distortion or misinterpretation can result in toxic outcomes.
10. General Applicability of Large-Scale Communicative Engagement
In the research assumptions set forth earlier in this paper, it was argued that those assumptions hold for every kind of human social system within the boundaries of its shared identity. The discussion in this paper has centered around a citizen communicative engagement on a national level and its potential for public policymaking. The process can also be used in meta systems such as communities (states, municipalities, etc.) as well as corporations, which could tap into the wisdom of their employees for evolutionary purposes and associations of any kind. In fact, many similar events have taken place in different types of meta systems in Iceland during the last three years, many of which I have transferred into managerial strategy.
Without excluding any possibilities, below is a summary of human social systems where actual application of the model have taken place and been of significance:
Nation building: A citizens’ communicative engagement organized by a government to capture the diversity and consider the way forward for the nation or to consider an issue of such national importance that it would require extensive public input. In this instance it is fair to assume that a vast array of remarks would appear from the crowd involving all aspects of the society. The government authorities would regard the respondents as a “sounding board” in controversial issues for further policymaking. In a geographically large setting, more than one event might be organized simultaneously. The complexity of the data would be such that categories would encompass larger subject areas. There are also other complexities relating to the placement of authority within different social institutions, be they formal or informal.
Community building: a communicative engagement involving a particular community, organized by local authorities and/or sponsors of some kind. These would typically be organized around a common goal such as employment opportunities, innovation/startups, community
projects, and so on. Participants would present issues of a systemic nature in community building, as well as specific ideas for their own collaboration. The organizers would then be tasked with strategizing and monitoring results. Stakeholder groups in this smaller setting may be better aligned with overall goals, making it easier to establish the necessary combination of authority, power and influence; however, stakeholder analysis will still be required.
Organization building: many such events have been organized in Iceland using the Assembly Process. These typically involve most or all of the organization’s employees, but in large organizations may involve multiple (not necessarily simultaneous) events tailored to the unit in question. Issues resulting from these sessions typically fall into the same categories as those of a National Assembly. In an organizational setting, authority, power, and influence are usually determined by corporate hierarchy.
11. Summary and Conclusions “The truth is not to be found in books, not even good books. The truth is to be found in people with good hearts.” —Halldor Laxness The above quote from the late Icelandic novelist and Nobel laureate Halldor Laxness reflects well the basic philosophy behind this paper. This research project has, to a great extent, evolved from a search for a truth; not the truth, but a truth within a human system that finds itself in times of trouble. Another anonymous source has it that the truth is not only that of oneself, but must be sought in encounters with other people who have their own truth, and must bear in mind three basic principles: acceptance, respect, and understanding. These basic values have been the true pillars of the dialogue events studied in this paper. The main focus has been on a large-scale dialogue process initiated by a grass-roots group in Iceland called The Anthill; this was followed by multiple similar events and one large-scale dialogue event organized by the Parliament of Iceland to initiate the rewriting of the Icelandic Constitution in November 2010. Since then, the same model has been applied in Scotland, raising a high degree of awareness and interest there as well. The question is, to what extent can such a citizens’ communicative engagement contribute to what I refer to in this paper as “conscious social evolution”? The dialogue process has now been used for a wide variety of issues ranging from specific organizational strategies to a visioning project for a whole nation. The process is studied using theories on participative action inquiry, dialogue, and public spheres. It has been argued that this carefully structured and facilitated process has the potential to create an environment of safety and creativity where every opinion counts.
The research behind this paper has been an emergent process; while working on it, things have happened that have affected the project in fundamental ways. Iceland’s financial collapse of 2008 was an invaluable source for researching a large-scale human system; its dynamics and responses to development are of grave consequence for the identity and overall wellbeing of the system. The situation provided opportunities to study the overall challenges of the society, its life conditions and ways of thinking that, in many ways, led to the crisis. The Conscious Social Evolution Model was created to study the forces that shape human systems for better or for worse. This paper is divided into four main parts in accordance with the evolutionary model presented: 1. Overview of prevailing life conditions with reference to the system’s level of integration and adaptation 2. Study of the underlying value systems and so-called Priority Codes of the system, which govern how the system interacts with its prevailing life conditions 3. The nature, organization, and outcome of the dialogue process 4. Intervention following the dialogue process to facilitate change and evolution. It was argued in Chapter 1 that a human system could only evolve on its own terms, taking into account its underlying mental and structural capacities to deal with different levels of complexity. Therefore, any meaningful intervention would have to be with a deep understanding of the system itself. Since 2005, I have conducted quantitative research of the Icelandic nation’s overall cultural traits. I have also made extensive use of secondary sources, particularly a report on the financial crisis issued by the parliamentary Special Investigation Commission.
The findings were put into the perspective of lifecycles to assess the system’s overall level of adaptation to its life conditions. The conclusion was that prevailing life conditions seemed to have exceeded the collective mental capacity. With privatized banking and a world awash in money, Iceland got ahead of itself in enjoying perceived success financed by foreign debt. The situation was a sort of fool’s paradise: perceived success, limited understanding of its causes, and totally lost overnight. The second section of the paper outlined how the the human system’s collective worldview elicits a response to perceived life conditions, leading to either healthy or unhealthy beliefs and behaviors. The quantitative surveys carried out in 2005, 2007, and 2009 regarding the prevailing value systems revealed that a poisonous mixture of egocentric, power-based thinking, together with strategic “means justifies the end” thinking, had become dominant in this era of material success. When things started turning in the wrong direction, a strong confirmation bias took over (as explained in the parliamentary Special Investigation Commission’s report), leading to total denial and utimately a financial crash of much larger proportions than anywhere else at that time. The result was not only a massive blow to the nation’s financial situation, but its very identity: that of a superior, overly optimistic, high-risk culture capable of turning everything it touched into gold. It came as no surprise that the nation’s response to the financial crisis was great fear, anger, and the search for someone to blame. Public protests and riots of unknown proportions occurred in the first months after the crash. The incumbent government was ousted and a massive criminal investigation initiated to prosecute those thought to be responsible. The situation was characterized by mistrust, blame, corruption, and more, as revealed by another quanititative study I carried out in cooperation with Barrett Valuescentre (see Appendix D).
It was in light of these developments that the dialogue process was organized, as outlined in Chapter 3. The goal was to turn negative energy into a constructive force by inviting a random sample of the nation’s citizens to a carefully structured dialogue event. This paper explores the event’s structure using participative inquiry methodologies; the data from the events was studied as well, and a model for categorizing the data into a comprehensive and holistic picture was conceived and explained. Thus, while conducting this research, some important developments were revealed: 1. The process can harness the constructive energy of a human system, judging from participants’ responses regarding their experience of the dialogue event (see Figure 35). 2. The process has been established as a universally applicable visioning tool for a wide range of issues and within various types of organizations and communities. 3. The process is not peculiar to the Icelandic nation, since it has been applied in other cultures with similar success. 4. It is difficult to establish with credibility that the Assembly Process is responsible for such direct visible effects as attaining certain measurable national objectives; however, it must be concluded that the process is a viable alternative in participative democracy since it was applied to the rewriting of Iceland’s Constitution. A pilot event in Scotland has already led to serious discussion toward wider use of the tool by various societal bodies.
The grass-roots group “So Say Scotland” organized an event called Thinking Together, held in Scotland in February of 2013, based on the Assembly Process.10 Figure 35 is a “Word Cloud” comprised of words participants used most frequently to describe their experience:
Figure 35. Words used to describe Thinking Process event in Scotland The last section of this paper discussed strategic intervention based on the Assembly Process. The Social Tectonic Plates model, developed following the 2009 Assembly, was the framework for formulating holistic emergent interventions for the system. It was shown how sophisticated tools for detecting and managing interrelationships between complex sets of qualitative data could enable such intervention. However, this was not the main focus of the research project and requires further research. The potential for creating momentum using Assembly participants’ energy and creative thinking was also discussed. Most governance structures were developed and implemented prior to the Internet age; evolving social media platforms are still in their infancy and fall far short in their current forms to play a constructive and systematic role in large scale-social change and governance processes. Rapid developments in technology for electronic collaboration (social media with a purpose) will open new dimensions for harnessing momentum: collaboration based
on the needs of citizens themselves and with their own participation. This, as well, requires further research. From the Wall Street Occupy Movement, to the Arab Spring sweeping much of the Middle East, to the unrest overtaking many other developed economies, I believe that the tools and techniques explored in this dissertation hold promise for engaging the populace in the social and governmental changes now unfolding across the world. It is my hope that this dissertation will serve as both a platform for and further motivation to scholar practitioners who believe that we must not remain mere victims of socioeconomic forces that seem outside our control. Rather, I believe that we can and should use the tools and techniques explored in this dissertation to engage those who are subject to these socioeconomic forces to shape those very forces toward the greater social good.
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Appendix A: Global Values Monitor
Template for GVM questionnaire - Iceland
First Part: Values Survey
Following is a description (in form of words or sentences) of seven different vore values. Pls. provide your estimate on the importance of the values within the Icelandic culture and whether they are in the rise or decreasing in importance:
Q1 (Everyone)
Kinship Bonds - Mythical:
How important or unimportant do you think the following attributes are to the Icelandic culture?
Critical Importance
Minimal Importance
Ethnic roots and respect for ancestors and older people11
Folkways, lore and myths
Close family ties providing safety and security against the outside world
11 As we don’t have much diversity in Ethnic bacground, we used “family roots” instead of “ethnic roots”
Do you think the following attributes in the Icelandic Culture are on the increase or the decrease?
On the Increase
On the Decrease
Ethnic roots and respect for ancestors and older people
Folkways, lore and myths
Close family ties providing safety and security against the outside world
Q2) (Everyone)
Egocentric - Imperial: How important or unimportant do you think the following attributes are to the Icelandic culture?
Critical Importance
Minimal Importance
Need to do things your own way
Freedom and individualism
Impatience, demands for quick results and rewards
Media is occupied with strong individuals and their achievements
Do you think the following attributes in the Icelandic Culture are on the increase or the decrease?
On the Increase
On the Decrease
Need to do things your own way
Freedom and individualism
Impatience, demands for quick results and rewards
Media is occupied with strong individuals and their achievements
Q3) (Everyone)
Saintly - Traditions:
How important or unimportant do you think the following attributes are to the Icelandic culture?
Critical Importance
Minimal Importance
Faith in superior power and the purpose of life
Behavior governed by customs and traditions
Faith in rewards later for right behaviour now
Do you think the following attributes in the Icelandic Culture are on the increase or the decrease?
On the Increase
On the decrease
Faith in superior power and the purpose of life
Behavior governed by customs and traditions
Faith in rewards later for right behaviour now
Q4) (Everyone)
Progressive - Achievement
How important or unimportant do you think the following attributes are to the Icelandic culture?
Critical Importance
Minimal Importance
Belief in technology improving standard of living
You create your own fortune
Happiness is about personal achievement and tangible assets
Do you think the following attributes in the Icelandic Culture are on the increase or the decrease?
On the Increase
On the Decrease
Belief in technology improving standard of living
You create your own fortune
Happiness is about personal achievement and tangible assets
Q5) (Everyone)
Sensitivity - Sharing
How important or unimportant do you think the following attributes are to the Icelandic culture?
Critical Importance
Minimal Importance
Warmth and concern for your fellow humans
Solidarity and common grounds
Equal rights
Social values are superior to materialism
Do you think the following attributes in the Icelandic Culture are on the increase or the decrease?
On the Increase
On the Increase
Warmth and concern for your fellow humans
Solidarity and common grounds
Equal rights
Social values are superior to materialism
Q6) (Everyone)
Integral - Ecological:
How important or unimportant do you think the following attributes are to the Icelandic culture?
Critical Importance
Minimal Importance
Balance between the individual and the whole
Emphasis on prosperity for all
Support and understand different needs
Feeling and respect for how everything is interconnected
Do you think the following attributes in the Icelandic Culture are on the increase or the decrease?
On the Increase
On the Decrease
Balance between the individual and the whole
Emphasis on prosperity for all
Support and understand different needs
Feeling and respect for how everything is interconnected
Q7) (Everyone)
Worldview - holistic:
How important or unimportant do you think the following attributes are to the Icelandic culture?
Critical Importance
Minimal Importance
Emphasis on common needs
Emphasis on “energy flow” and concern for life on Earth
The Earth regarded as one ecosystem
Worldview is dominates religious thougts and systems
Do you think the following attributes in the Icelandic Culture are on the increase or the decrease?
On the Increase
On the Decrease
Emphasis on common needs
Emphasis on “energy flow” and concern for life on Earth
The Earth regarded as one ecosystem
Worldview is dominates religious thougts and systems
Q8) (Everyone)
Thinking about the above description of the seven core values, which do you think describes best the Icelandic Society? Prioritize the values where 1 is the best description, 2 the next etc. and finally 7 for the one you think is least descriptive.
Rank one through Seven in terms of priorities where 1 is highest and 7 is lowest.
Kinship Bonds – Mythical
Egocentric – Imperial
Saintly – Traditional
Progressive – Achievement
Sensitive – Sharing
Integral Ecological
Worldview - Holistic
VECTOR TWO: COUNTRY AND CULTURAL Indicate your impressions of a country based on these critical descriptions. You can only make one selection between the two end points
High Intensity Moderate Intensity Mild intensity Mild Intensity Moderate Intensity High Intensity
Can Do - Optimism
Hopeless - Pessimism
High Intensity Moderate Intensity Mild intensity Mild Intensity Moderate Intensity High Intensity
Decisions made by a Few
Decision made by the Many
High Intensity Moderate Intensity Mild intensity Mild Intensity Moderate Intensity High Intensity
New and Fresh
Old and Stale
High Intensity Moderate Intensity Mild intensity Mild Intensity Moderate Intensity High Intensity
National or Ethnic Centric
World or Global Centric
High Intensity Moderate Intensity Mild intensity Mild Intensity Moderate Intensity High Intensity
Abundant Resources
Limited Resources
High Intensity Moderate Intensity Mild intensity Mild Intensity Moderate Intensity High Intensity
Conflict / Violence Prone
Peaceful / Harmony Prone
High Intensity Moderate Intensity Mild intensity Mild Intensity Moderate Intensity High Intensity
Open to Future
Captive of Past
High Intensity Moderate Intensity Mild intensity Mild Intensity Moderate Intensity High Intensity
Individuals Come First
Groups / Collectiveness Come First
High Intensity Moderate Intensity Mild intensity Mild Intensity Moderate Intensity High Intensity
Deeply Spiritual
Highly Materialistic
High Intensity Moderate Intensity Mild intensity Mild Intensity Moderate Intensity High Intensity
Cohesive and United
Fragmented and Chaotic
High Intensity Moderate Intensity Mild intensity Mild Intensity Moderate Intensity High Intensity
VECTOR 3: STATE OF CHANGE Different countries or cultures go through different Stages of Chang. In this case, select the one statement below that best represents the overall state or condition in this country. You may pick only one.
Everything's OK and the world is basically stable.
Serious trouble is brewing beneath the surface.
Society is evolving gradually into a way of thinking that can solve the new problems and challenges.
Society is dangerously trapped Behind barriers and is helpless and hopeless.
Society is revolting against the old order as it strives frantically to break free.
Society has overthrown the barriers and is now on a clear, steady course to a better future.
VECTOR 4: SELF ANALYSIS Which of these groupings of words best describes you: (you may choose only one)
Spunky, risky, daring, often rebellious
Self-reliant, autonomous, flexible with multiple interests
Loyal, dependable, ordered with firm convictions and beliefs
Ambitious, competitive, a "winner" with strong aspirations.
Warm, open, inclusive with focus on feelings and community.
Superstitious, tribal, with family/group/clan rituals.
Appendix B: Step-by-Step Overview of the National Assembly
Opening Session: Registration (8:00 am–10:00 am)
Data Acquisition Activity #1: When registering, participants indicated their gender, age, and place of residence. This information was associated with a confidential participant number and noted on every data card submitted during later activities.
Data Mangement Activity #1: Participant numbers were registered into the Assembly database.
Morning Session One: Core Values
Data Acquisition Activity #2 (10:00 AM–10:40 AM): Participants were asked, “What core values do we want to base our future society on?” and instructed to write their answers, one per card, on blue “values cards.” Participants were given ten minutes to to write their thoughts down, in silence. They then presented their answers in a round-robin fashion, one piece of data at a time, until everyone had read from all of their values cards.
Figure 36. The working area
Figure 37. Organization of the meeting room
Data Management Activity #2 (10:40 AM–10:50 AM): As values cards were collected, they were grouped by word (same words grouped together).
Data Acquisition Activity #3 (10:50 AM–11:00 AM): Participants voted for the three values that were most important to them. Results were collected, entered into the database, and the most frequently cited values were displayed on video screens around the meeting room.
Morning Session Two: Vision
Data Acquisition Activity #4 (11:00 AM–11:30 AM): Participants were asked, “How do I want to see future Iceland?” and instructed to answer using no more than six words per yellow “vision card.” As before, ten minutes were allotted for writing thoughts down, then participants
shared one piece of data at a time until everyone at the table had read from all of their vision cards.
Data Management Activity #3 (during acquisition): Facilitators at each table categorized the cards as they related to a particular vision.
Data Management Activity #4 (11:30 AM–11:45 AM): The categorization was discussed and accepted by all participants, who then jointly decided on a title for each category of vision points. The titles were registered by group facilitators on pink “category cards.”
Data Acquisition Activity #5 (11:45 AM–12:00 PM ): Each table voted for three categories to submit to a common “category pool.” An expert team comprised of two professors from the University of Iceland and one member of The Anthill then identified the most popular categories throughout the Assembly. Participants also chose three specific points from the vision cards to use in Data Acquisition Activity #4 of this session.
Data Management Activity #5 (11:45 AM–12:00 PM): Categories identified as the most popular in Data Acquisition Activity #5 were registered into the Assembly database.
Data Acqusition Activity #6 (12:00 PM–12:30 PM): Each group was asked to formulate a vision statement for Iceland using the categories and visions identified in Data Acquisition Activity #4.
Data Management Activity #6 (12:30 PM): Vision statements were collected from each group, registered into the database, and displayed on video screens around the room for the remainder of the day.
Lunchtime Session (Analysis and Feedback)
Data Analysis Activity #1 (12:00 PM–1:00 PM): The expert team identified eight predominant themes emerging from the categories chosen during Data Acquisition Activity #5.
The themes, which were to represent the overall subject areas of the meeting for further deliberation, were Economy, Public Administration, Education, Family, Environment, Equality, Sustainability, and Welfare. A ninth, called Opportunities, was created for those points that would not fit into any other theme. These themes were displayed on the Assembly room screens at 1:00 PM when the groups assembled again after lunch.
Afternoon Session One (Relate Data to Themes)
Data Management Activity #7 (1:00 PM–1:30 PM): Each table was given the list of common themes from Data Analysis Activity #1. The former category titles were discarded; participants recategorized all vision cards fom Data Acquisition Activity #4 to fit under the nine overarching themes.
Data Acquisition Activity #7 (1:30 PM–1:45 PM): Participants were given time to reflect on the data under each theme and add points in the same fashion as in Data Acquisition Activity #4.
Figure 38. Organization of data
Break and Specializing of Groups
Each participant was assigned one theme with all relevant vision data cards attached. Eighteen tables were designated for the discussion of one particular theme. Thus, the room was transformed into theme groups consisting of 18 tables each. Participants moved from the table they had been assigned for the morning session (their “Home Table”) to a table designated for discussion of their assigned theme. Facilitators stayed at their original tables.
Afternoon Session Two (Consolidate Data, Prioritize and Formulate Vision Statements for Themes)
Data Management Activity #8 (2:00 PM–2:30 PM): Members at each Theme Table presented material from their Home Table relevant to the theme being discussed. Data was categorized and grouped simultaneously. Vision data was discussed and categorized within the theme.
Individual data points as formulated by each participant
Sub-groups under each category containing individual points
Categories emerging from the data after being classified under respective themes
Themes emerging from initial categorization
The overall database
Data from the National Assembly
Data Acquisition Activity #8 (2:30 PM–2:45 PM): Participants agreed on headings for the categories formed during the consolidation of the data in Data Management Activity #8. Headings were written on pink cards to distinguish from the actual vision points gathered in Data Acquisition Activity #4 and reflected ideas for change .
Data Analysis Activity #2 (2:45 PM–3:00 PM): Participants chose three categories and three vision data points as the most important to them.
Data Acquisition Activity #9 (3:00 PM–3:30 PM): Each table formulated a vision statement for the theme based on chosen categories (pink cards) and vision points (yellow cards).
Data Management Activity #9 (3:30 PM): Vision statements were delivered to data processing for immediate input into the Assembly database.
Coffee Break—Feedback
Each table chose a representative to present the vision statement they had created.
Concluding Session (Specific Tasks Proposed by Participants and Final Feedback)
Data Acquisition Activity #9 (4:00 PM–5:00 PM): Green cards were distributed to each participant to record their ideas for action. These ideas did not necessarily result from Assembly participation, but may have been preexisting opinions that had not been expresssed during the Assembly due to form or content. Participants worked individually on this task, not sharing information.
Data Management Activity #10 (5:00 PM): Participants categorized and submitted their ideas for action. These ideas were registered to the database along with all other data from the meeting.
Data Acquisiton Activity #10 (4:00 PM–5:00 PM): Participants completed a survey reflecting on their experience and noting ideas for follow-up on the Assembly and its conclusions.
Follow-up Activity #1: The media had reported on main conclusions from the Assembly while it was in progress, but further communication was organized with both the media and the government, which had sponsored the event.
Follow-up Activity #2: All data from the Assembly had been registered into one common database, which was now made available to all on the Internet. The data, about 30,000 discrete items, could be sorted by demographics and nature of data, and had been categorized to make it more accessible. A search engine was also installed to look up data containing specific words. The data can be found here:
 Ideas for future vision:
 Ideas for action:
 Category vision statements:
 Vision statements for Iceland:
All data was also made available in an Excel workbook for downloading and processing.
Follow-up Activity #3: In the hope that this Assembly would stimulate smaller-scale dialogues throughout Iceland, the Facilitator Handbook (see Appendix C) was made public for organizing similar events. Members of the organizing committee The Anthill offered to help with the organizing and training functions critical to future events.
Appendix C: National Assembly Facilitators’ Guide
6 November 2010 at Laugardalshöll Arena
Rules of Procedure:
1. Use CAPITAL LETTERS on all data
2. ONE idea written on each card
3. Use your imagination, get everyone’s opinion
4. Ensure mutual respect and courtesy
5. Ensure equality in the discussions – make sure everyone has an input
6. Ask for the zone master’s assistance if necessary
7. Speeches are not to be held at the table
8. Ideas and attitudes are gathered by going round the table and everyone has a short presentation
9. One input from each participant is put forth in each round
This handbook contains a description of the methodology and instructions for the facilitators at the National Assembly on the Constitution held on 6 November 2010.
According to the law the National Assembly is to be held in order to call for the public’s viewpoints and points of emphasis regarding the organisation of the country’s government and constitution and its changes. The objective of the meeting is to discuss the future structure of the society and the fundamental issues of the Icelandic Constitution.
The methodology of the meeting shall ensure that the outcome represents the viewpoints of those who attend the meeting, not the organisers’. The responsibility of the facilitators is to make sure that everyone at the table gets an equal opportunity to express him/her and to ensure active listening at the table so all viewpoints are heard.
In the first session there are questions about values and visions. We all have our own interpretation of values and visions. Value is a word that contains virtues, emotions and views. We all want to live in a good society, where communication between individuals is to our liking. We also want good rules and laws that form the frame around our communication with each other and with the society’s institutions.
For this to be possible our fundamental legislation, the constitution, must reflect the values and visions that are the basis of good communication and quality of life here in Iceland. This is the main input that we want to get from the first session. What are these values and visions? Core values in relation to the country, the nation and the world.
The participants of the National Assembly are not there as experts in constitutions. However, everyone is an expert in his or her own life vision. The constitution can accommodate
to the life vision of the participants as it touches all the fundamental aspects of the society as well as the foundations of the legislation of the republic.
In the second session we start with a simple and open input question: “What do you want to see included in the new Icelandic Constitution?” In order to analyse the input better it may be as important and beneficial to discuss what kind of society we want the new Icelandic Constitution to reflect. It would then be the role of the Constitutional Assembly to perceive this vision and wish from the National Assembly.
The meeting process and the handbook
Agora ehf, that works for the Constitutional Committee is responsible for the management of the flow of the meeting. For further information regarding the process of the meeting contact: Guðjón Már Guðjónsson, or mobile phone: +354 820 0000
The publication of this document is subject to the terms of the user licence of Creative Commons Attribution –Share Alike 3.0 Unported License. Authors must be mentioned and the distribution is subject to the same terms in case of reproduction. Changes, further adaptation or new versions must be sent to which makes the data accessible to others, subject to the same terms.
The Facilitators’ Checklist
Arrive in good time for the meeting, well prepared for the work method that is used at the meeting.
The beginning:
 Once at his table, the facilitator has to make sure all the necessary meeting material is there.
 Meet the participants at your table with a smile and assist them as well as you can.
 Don’t take a stand with any of the participants and keep a positive attitude.
 Show the participants that you care about their participation and that their points of view are welcome, important, unquestioned and received.
 The task is to bring out a lot of ideas and therefore all ideas are welcome.
 Ask the participants to have their mobile phones turned off during the meeting. They have opportunities to make phone calls during coffee breaks.
 On every table there is a small bottle of water and a coffee cup for each participant who writes his name on his/her bottle as well as on a white label for the coffee cup. The cups are gifts to the participants.
The discussion, wellbeing and flow at the table
 Start each session by adjusting the expectations with a discussion about the input of the project, the procedure, timing and the output and give the participants an opportunity to express themselves and ask questions as needed.
 Refrain from criticising ideas – all ideas are important in the process.
 Encourage the participants to use the silence to examine their thoughts and express their deepest beliefs.
 The objective is to bring out many and varied ideas.
 Emphasise freedom and independence when it comes to writing down ideas.
 Idea cards may be rewritten and adjusted and they may even be torn if they address different issues on one card.
 Make sure that the participants only write one idea on each card.
 Make sure everyone's introduction is short. Everyone at the table has the same relevance when the discussion goes round the table.
 Allow questions if someone at the table doesn’t understand the meaning of an idea, but don't allow any discussions other than the relevant explanation.
 Make an effort to ensure the wellbeing of the participants. Taking off your shoes might be a good idea as well as anything else that makes you feel better.
 Remember to smile throughout the meeting and spread positive energy to others.
Categorising the ideas
 The facilitator categorises while the participants reflect and prepare more ideas. The facilitator is an active listener at all times.
 Take care to have a good work space when categorising the idea cards.
 Clear the table regularly in order to make space.
Summary of tasks and objectives and the timetable
Arrival and refreshments. From 8:15 – 9:00
Introduction and expectations at the tables. From 9:00 – 9:20
1st session 45 min. Values and visions of the constitution. Time 9:20 – 10:05
The objectives of this session are twofold: On the one hand to find out what visions or values we want to be the foundation of the Icelandic Constitution. On the other hand to unite the participants from the beginning and create a positive atmosphere.
Voting – Selecting the values. 10 min. Time 10:05 – 10:15
2nd session: 70 min. The content of the new constitution. Time 10:30 – 11:40
The objective of this session is to call for the participants’ proposals for the content of the new constitution. The participants put forth their ideas about specific issues which they think the constitution should contain or address.
Lunch. 45 min. Time 11:40 - 12:25
3rd session: 30 min. Categorising the themes. Time 12:25 – 12:55
The objective in this session is to categorise the ideas about the content of the new constitution into themes which have been created from the values that came out of the first session of the meeting.
4th session: 15 min. A visit to new tables and personal introductions. Time 12:55 – 13:10
Each participant at the table gets one theme which he/she will bring over to a new table with new people who are addressing the same theme.
5th session: 30 min. Categorising and uniting repeated ideas. Time 13:10 – 13:40
The objective in this session is to summarise the overall input within the theme. This is done by grouping, taking repetitions from different tables and starting to build up a theme with a new categorisation.
6th session: 20 min. Specialisation, discussion and deepening. Time 13:40 – 14:00
The objective of this session is to deepen the discussion into the theme and make sure nothing is left out.
7th session: 20 min. Main emphases and a new way of thinking. Time 14:00 – 14:20
The objective with this session is to find out, with a simple voting, on the one hand the main points of emphasis and on the other hand a new way of thinking.
8th session: 5 min. Notes taken of the results from each theme. Time 14:20 – 14:25
The objective of this session is to make a note of the main results of the table, based on the input that prevailed in the voting.
Coffee break. 15 min. Time 14:25 – 14:40
9th session: 20 min. Writing sentences and finish. Time 14:40 – 15:00
The objective of this session is to write a strong sentence about the main input of the relevant theme, taking into account the recent voting. At the end of the assembly the sentence may be read out loud for all the participants.
A short break. 10 min. Time 15:00 – 15:10
10th session: 20 min. Back to the home-table. Time 15:10 – 15:30
The objective in this session is to bring out information from each participant about the discussions and results from the theme each of them discussed.
11th session: 40 min. Recommendations and requests. Time 15:30 – 16:10
The objective of this session is to bring out recommendations, advice or requests for the people who will continue and finish the work towards the forming of a new constitution.
The cards reflect the topics that the participants consider the most important guidelines for the continuing work for a new constitution.
12th session: 40 min. Presentations, evaluations and roundup. 16:10 - 16:50
The objective in this session is to help the participants at the National Assembly get a better understanding and knowledge of the work that has been done since the morning.
13th session: Closing session and canapés with music. 17:00 - 18:00
Arrival and refreshments. From 8:15 – 9:00
1. Facilitators arrive at a preparation meeting with their zone master at table 1 in each zone at 8:15.
2. Facilitators get a list of participants for their table. Tick off the names of those present and add new names to the list if there have been changes.
o This information is used for the processing of payments to the participants at the meeting.
o Runners collect the lists of participants.
Meeting material:
3. On the table there are the following items for each participant: a pen, a name card, a name card holder, a sticker to label the coffee cup, a coffee cup and a bottle of water.
4. In addition the facilitator has the blue cards and the list of participants for his table.
5. In a box under the table there are:
o Yellow, pink, green and purple cards as well as white A6 sheets of scrap paper,
o Parking card and Repetition card,
o Seven envelopes, labelled VALUES/VISIONS (session 1), REPETITION (session 5), DATA FROM THE THEME (session 9) and RECOMMENDATIONS (session 11)
o Elastic bands, blue dots and red dots
o Four forms, value results sheet, sentence form, selected recommendation and the meeting evaluation sheets.
Introduction and expectations at the tables. From 9:00 – 9:20
6. When all the participants have arrived at the table ask everyone to tell his/her name and where he/she is from. Ask them to say a few words about their expectations for this meeting.
o The facilitators ask the participants at the table to address each other directly.
7. Discuss everyone’s expectations and explain the objective of the meeting which is to discuss the future structure of the society and the fundamental issues of the Icelandic Constitution.
8. Discuss the ideology of the model of the Assembly and the main working procedures with the participants.
9. Have the participants agree that no one may talk for too long at a time.
10. Ask if someone needs special assistance (writing, dyslexia, difficulties in movement, language problems etc.) – get assistance from the zone masters if needed.
11. Emphasise that everyone must participate for the whole duration of the meeting. It is important to inform the facilitator at the start if someone can’t do that or if it changes unexpectedly.
12. Ask the participants to always use CAPITAL LETTERS on the cards.
13. Explain to the participants that they can express their opinions and emphasise that everyone should be polite to each other and show respect.
o We are not asking who is right – everyone is right.
14. To warm up before starting the next session the facilitator asks the participants to answer the question: “What do you like best about Iceland?” as well as “What do you appreciate the most about Iceland?”
o Each participant briefly explains what he thinks in very few words so the table can go two short rounds of brainstorming.
o This is only an informal warm-up and no cards are necessary.
1st session 45 min. Values and visions of the constitution. Time 9:20 – 10:05
The objectives of this session are twofold: On the one hand to find out what visions or values we want to be the foundation of the Icelandic Constitution. On the other hand to unite the participants from the beginning and create a positive atmosphere.
15. Then the facilitator distributes blue cards and starts the first input.
16. The facilitator repeats the announcers’ question: “What values do you want to see form the basis of the new Icelandic Constitution?” “ONE descriptive word on each card”.
o “Value is a word that can contain virtues, behaviour, emotions or views.”
17. The facilitator explains briefly the meaning of value and encourages questions and discussions to ensure a common understanding of the terms.
o If someone asks for an example, it is preferable that one of the participants give an example rather than the facilitator himself.
18. The facilitator gives the participants approximately five minutes to reflect and write what values should form the basis of the new constitution.
o Only one word on each card.
19. Each participant, one at a time, chooses one of his/her cards, reads it out loud, explains and puts it at the centre of the table – the facilitator prepares categorisation.
o The facilitator asks the participants at the table to address each other directly.
o Ask the participants to try to come up with new subjects rather than repeat ideas that have already been mentioned.
20. The participants will have an opportunity to explain the meaning and content of their cards.
21. After about two rounds of discussion the facilitator starts grouping while the people at the table continue to explain their suggestions.
o Group together words that mean the same thing and take away repetitions.
22. The more rounds the participants can take the deeper and more developed the input.
o Often the general subjects come in the first rounds but they become deeper as time passes and the participants dare to take more risks.
23. Continue putting forth visions until the announcers give you 10 more minutes and announce that the voting will now take place.
24. The participants can always stand where it is the most convenient and where they can see the cards and get close to them.
Voting – Selecting the values. 10 min. Time 10:05 – 10:15
25. The facilitator asks the participants to choose in their minds five cards on the table that reflect the values that he/she thinks are the most important to form the basis of the new constitution. Everyone gets one minute to reflect and write notes before the voting begins. The facilitator asks the participants to select five different inputs.
26. The facilitator asks the participants to mark the five blue cards that they select with a line. One line on each.
27. The facilitator collects the 10 values (cards) that received the most votes and writes on the VALUE RESULT SHEET.
28. When this is done, the table is cleared by putting all the blue cards – also the cards that didn’t get any votes – in an envelope marked VALUES and the number of the table. Will be collected. Coffee break 10 minutes. Time 10:15 – 10:30
2nd session: 70 min. The content of the new constitution. Time 10:30 – 11:40
The objective of this session is to call for the participants’ proposals for the content of the new constitution. The participants put forth their ideas about specific issues which they think the constitution should contain or address.
29. The facilitator distributes an ample number of yellow cards.
30. The facilitator repeats the announcers’ question:
o “What do you want to see in the new Icelandic Constitution?”
31. ONE idea written on each card.
o As many as come to mind.
32. The facilitator makes sure everyone understands the question. Other starting points may be introduced:
o ”The constitution touches all aspects of society and is the basis for its laws and regulations. What subjects do you think the constitution must include or address?”
o “How would you describe briefly the subjects or topics that you think are the most important to ensure with the new constitution?”
33. The facilitator gives the participants up to 10 minutes to reflect and write down ideas that show what they think should be the main points of emphasis of the constitution. They write a short sentence on each card.
34. Anything can be included and the idea may address any subject. The participants may address any of the subjects that should be included in the new constitution.
35. After the reflection time is over each participant, one at a time, selects one of his/her ideas, reads it out loud and explains it briefly and concisely with positive arguments.
o No more than half a minute should be spent introducing each idea. Others at the table listen to the explanation of the idea, without criticising and only receive the arguments. The objective is only to make sure everyone understands what the person means.
36. The facilitator groups equivalent ideas together with the help of the participants.
o Cards may be rewritten. Nothing is sacred as the role of the facilitator is to ensure that everyone feels free and equal to the others at the table.
37. If the facilitator notices that the participants only write one word or one subject (e.g. presidency, ownership of resources or human rights) he/she encourages them to describe the subject better with a short sentence.
38. Go round the table several times until no more ideas come up and the announcers declare that there are only five minutes left. – Then a final round is taken.
39. The facilitators finish this session by moving the cards on the table to make space for lunch.
Lunch. 45 min. Time 11:40 - 12:25
3rd session: 30 min. Categorising the themes. Time 12:25 – 12:55
The objective in this session is to categorise the ideas about the content of the new constitution into themes which have been created from the values that came out of the first session of the meeting.
40. Eight main themes for the constitution appear on the screen. The themes are based on the participants’ choices in the first session.
o These are eight coordinated themes in which the ideas about the content (yellow cards) are to be categorised. The facilitator writes the name of each theme on a blue card as well as a letter for the theme and puts on the table.
o The letters for each theme appear on the screen.
41. It may be useful for the facilitator to distribute the themes immediately to the participants in order to make them more aware of what should be categorised under their theme.
42. The facilitator assists the participants in grouping all the input according to the themes on the blue cards.
o A good way can be to distribute the cards equally to the participants and walk around.
o The participants together find a good way to categorise.
43. The facilitator has a “Parking card” in front of him. This card is in the box.
44. Cards that are difficult to categorise or that the participants disagree about how to
categorise can be put on the Parking card marked P. These cards will be discussed at
the end to find an acceptable place for them.
45. Yellow cards can be added at all times. If a new subject comes from the participants the facilitator categorises it right away with the help of the participants.
o A yellow card could apply to more than one theme. If there is disagreement about the categorisation of the card, another card may be written and the cards can then be categorised under both themes.
o It is important to put all the cards under one of the eight categories.
46. When the categorisation is over the facilitator collects all the cards on the table and groups them conscientiously into eight categories and puts a rubber band around each stack. On the top of the stack is the blue card marked with the relevant theme under which the cards have been categorised.
4th session: 15 min. A visit to new tables and personal introductions. Time 12:55 – 13:10
Each participant at the table gets one theme which he/she will bring over to a new table with new people who are addressing the same theme.
From the announcers: The facilitator prepares the participants for changing tables.
47. There are eight zones (A-H) and one of the eight themes will be discussed in each zone. The participants get a letter A-H which indicates which theme zone to go to. The participants at table A1 go to table B1, C1, D1 etc. One participant stays at his table.
o The participants may exchange themes between themselves if both parties agree.
o If a table is not fully occupied with eight participants, the theme that is not distributed is handed over to the zone master or runner who will take it to the right place.
From the announcers: Now the participants go to new tables where individual themes are discussed further as well as what has been classified in the same category.
48. The participants leave their table to go to their assigned tables. They take all their belongings (handbags, glasses etc.).
49. The facilitator makes sure the table has been cleared and is ready for a new group.
50. The facilitator welcomes new people to his/her table. Everyone introduces himself/herself (name, where from, interests).
51. The facilitator asks the participants about their opinion of the National Assembly so far.
52. The facilitator briefly discusses the themes chosen at the meeting and especially the theme assigned to his/her table. The discussion goes on until a common understanding is reached about the essence of the theme.
5th session: 30 min. Categorising and uniting repeated ideas. Time 13:10 – 13:40
The objective in this session is to summarise the overall input within the theme. This is done by grouping, taking repetitions from different tables and starting to build up a theme with a new categorisation.
53. Each participant, one at a time, selects a subject from his home-table, reads out loud, explains and places on the table.
54. The facilitator places the Repetition card on the table. This card is in the box. Yellow
cards are placed where the participants agree that there are repetitions.
o Those cards are regularly put in an envelope marked: REPETITION.
55. The facilitator groups together the cards that the participants agree should go together and
reduces the number of subjects that the participants agree are repetitions on the Repetition card.
56. The facilitator categorises, with the help of the participants, by grouping identical ideas.
o A name or description is found which the participants believe reflects best the
content of the category.
o There may be quite a few categories which are branches or sub-categories under each theme. Divide large categories into other, smaller categories.
o The facilitator makes a description of each category and writes it on the pink cards, making clear headings for each category. This description may be changed when better ideas emerge. The pink cards are in the box.
57. Adoption: The participants think that some cards might apply to another theme. The
facilitator can place them on the Parking card and mark them with the letter that
corresponds to the theme to which they belong.
o The runners collect these cards regularly and bring them to a new zone which is marked on the cards.
58. This continues until all the cards have been categorised.
6th session: 20 min. Specialisation, discussion and deepening. Time 13:40 – 14:00
The objective of this session is to deepen the discussion into the theme and make sure nothing is left out.
59. The facilitator asks the participants to look at what has been done and asks: “Are we missing something? What ideas do we have that could improve or deepen the theme?”
60. The facilitator ensures that the participants have enough yellow cards on which to write their additional ideas and gives time for reflection – up to three minutes.
61. The discussion goes around the table as before.
62. The participants always categorise and agree on a descriptive name (1-3 words) for each category (pink cards) on the table. Remember to try to break up larger categories and make smaller ones.
63. Continue going around the table until there are no more ideas or the announcers say that there are only five minutes left – then go one more round to give the participants an opportunity to come up with an important input.
64. The participants finish this task by agreeing on the final and descriptive names for all the categories on pink cards.
o The participants agree on the arrangement of the cards on the table to facilitate the overview.
7th session: 20 min. Main emphases and a new way of thinking. Time 14:00 – 14:20
The objective with this session is to find out, with a simple voting, on the one hand the main points of emphasis and on the other hand a new way of thinking.
65. The announcers present the voting: The presenter opens a discussion at the table for the next task, which is prioritising of input.
66. The facilitator distributes three blue and three red dots to each participant.
67. The facilitator prepares the voting at the table and distributes  3 blue dots.
o Blue dots: “Select the points of emphasis that you find most important.” Three yellow cards are selected with one blue dot on each card.
o Each participant makes notes for himself/herself in peace and quiet before the voting takes place.
68. After the voting with the blue dots the facilitator introduces another voting with up to  3 red dots.
o Red dots: “Do you see a new way of thinking anywhere?” up to three yellow cards, the same way as before. Red dots are for input that indicate a new way of thinking in society and show fresh ideas.
o The facilitator further explains the task about what input could create a new Icelandic society with fresh ideas. Do we have opportunities here for a new approach, a new way of thinking, not only in Iceland but also elsewhere? Which input on this table could be categorised as a new approach or a change from former ways? We are talking about positive novelties. Each participant selects for himself and makes notes before the voting takes place.
o Each participant makes notes for himself/herself in peace and quiet before the voting with red dots takes place. It is not necessary to use all the red dots.
69. After the voting the yellow cards are arranged according to priority in each category.
o Only blue dots indicate priorities. Red dots indicate
inspirations for a new way of thinking.
o This is a summary of the main input, according to the
participants, which will contribute to the input for the next
task which is to make a note of the main results of the
8th session: 5 min. Notes taken of the results from each theme. Time 14:20 – 14:25
The objective of this session is to make a note of the main results of the table, based on the input that prevailed in the voting.
70. The facilitator distributes a few purple cards and asks the participants to have a
look at the yellow cards that prevailed in the voting. Everyone writes the proposals
on the same number of purple cards and keeps to himself/herself.
o Only one input on each card (do not use “and”).
o The purple cards are notes for the participants to keep and introduce later to the other participants at their home-table.
Coffee break. 15 min. Time 14:25 – 14:40
9th session: 20 min. Writing sentences and finish. Time 14:40 – 15:00
The objective of this session is to write a strong sentence about the main input of the relevant theme, taking into account the recent voting. At the end of the assembly the sentence may be read out loud for all the participants.
71. From the announcers: Now the facilitator introduces the next task, which is to write a sentence that contains the most important input within the theme that the table has been discussing and should characterise the Icelandic constitution.
72. The facilitator ensures that everyone agrees to the arranging of the top five to six subjects used as input for writing the sentence.
o The facilitator makes sure that the yellow cards don’t get dispersed from their categories.
o The participants may also use the purple notecards to get
inspiration for writing the sentence.
o The facilitator may give the participants white, lined
sheets of paper to write their versions or notes. The sheets
are in the box.
73. The participants jointly compose one strong sentence, of
approximately 20 words that describes how the relevant
theme shall be reflected in the new constitution. The recent
voting is an indication.
o At the end of the assembly the sentence may be read out
loud for all the participants.
74. Use up to 15 minutes to word the sentence.
75. Encourage the participants to use white sketch paper to make a draft.
76. The facilitator writes the sentence on a white SENTENCE FORM and marks it with the number of the table. Will be collected.
The facilitator prepares the cards for processing and clears the table.
77. The facilitator puts a rubber band around all stacks of cards on the table that contain a pink heading card (on top) and yellow input – each stack separately.
o In order to help speed up the registration, turn all the cards the same way and arrange each category according to the number of votes.
78. The facilitator puts the data into an envelope marked DATA FROM THEME and the table number. Make sure all the cards stay in the right category (i.e. that the yellow cards don’t accidentally end up in the wrong stack).
o The envelopes marked DATA FROM THEME and REPETITION will be collected.
79. The facilitator informs the participants that soon they will go back to their home-table and he encourages the participants to say goodbye and prepare to go to the initial table.
o The facilitator reminds the participants to take the purple cards with them (the notes).
80. From the announcers: The facilitator prepares the participants for going back to their home-table and reminds them to take their belongings with them (handbags, glasses etc.).
A short break. 10 min. Time 15:00 – 15:10
10th session: 20 min. Back to the home-table. Time 15:10 – 15:30
The objective in this session is to bring out information from each participant about the discussions and results from the theme each of them discussed.
81. From the announcers: The facilitator welcomes the participants home and starts a brief discussion about the participants’ experiences of the meeting.
82. The participants now exchange information about the discussions that took place on the tables where they were, by going one round and everyone informs the others briefly about what he/she thinks stood out in the discussions they took part in.
o Each participant places his/her purple card on the table and explains the thought behind it.
o This way the participants also see if the discussions were similar although they are a part of a different theme.
11th session: 40 min. Recommendations and requests. Time 15:30 – 16:10
The objective of this session is to bring out recommendations, advice or requests for the people who will continue and finish the work towards the forming of a new constitution. The cards reflect the topics that the participants consider the most important guidelines for the continuing work for a new constitution.
A new task, equally important: Recommendations for the continuing work and process for the nation's new constitution.
83. The facilitator distributes up to five green cards to the
84. The facilitator explains the final task of the meeting:
“What are our recommendations, advice and requests to
those who will continue and finish the work towards a
new constitution?”
85. Recommendations can be intended for the Constitutional
Assembly, Althingi, the media or other sectors of the
o Don’t repeat the discussion about the content of a new
o Make your recommendations with care because the comments that get the largest number of votes for the next segment will actually be supported.
86. Use the same method as before. Each participant reflects for five minutes and writes one recommendation on each card. Then a round is taken as before and the participants present one card each time.
From the announcers: Voting, select three inputs.
87. The facilitator now asks the participants to select three inputs on the green cards which they consider the most important, by simple voting. A line in the right hand corner. Everyone gets one minute to reflect before the voting begins.
o This voting is very important because it is the most distinct message that the National Assembly can present.
88. After the voting the facilitator prepares to collect the cards.
89. The facilitator selects one recommendation that received a lot of votes and writes it on a white piece of paper marked SELECTED RECOMMENDATION. Will be collected.
90. The facilitator groups the cards into; Constitutional Assembly, Althingi, Media and Other. The stacks go into one of the four appropriate envelopes that are marked with the number of the table. Will be collected.
12th session: 40 min. Presentations, evaluations and roundup. 16:10 - 16:50
The objective in this session is to help the participants at the National Assembly get a better understanding and knowledge of the work that has been done since the morning.
Presentations of sentences from the themes:
91. Some short presentations will now be done from each zone
where sentences are read out loud as well as selected
92. The participants also get an opportunity to express their
personal recommendations to the Constitutional Assembly,
by filling out an evaluation form. 
o If the facilitators also want to fill out the evaluation
form they write FACILITATOR in the upper right hand
13th session: Closing session and canapés with music. 17:00 - 18:00
93. The facilitator now presents the participants with a document acknowledging their participation at this National Assembly.
94. The participants take their belongings and clear their table and the facilitators express their appreciation.
95. The participants put the evaluation form into the voting boxes presented by the announcers.
96. When the programme finishes at 18:00 the facilitators are asked to stack the chairs at their table and return all the surplus meeting material to be sorted at the data processing tables at the end of the assembly room.
97. The announcers thank everyone for their participation.
98. Canapés and music
Appendix D: Culture Values Assessment
Cultural Transformation Tools
September 8, 2008
Iceland- National Assessment
All human group structures grow and develop in seven well-defined stages. Each stage focuses on a particular existential need that is common to the human condition. These seven existential needs are the principal motivating forces in all human affairs. The level of growth and development of all human group structures depends on the ability of the leaders to create the conditions that enable the members of the group structure to satisfy these seven existential needs. If these needs are not met, then the consciousness of the people in the group structure will stay focussed on these needs until they are met.
Figure 1 shows the needs associated with each stage in the growth and development of nations.
Positive Focus / Excessive FocusUNITYEXTERNAL COHESIONINTERNAL COHESIONTRANSFORMATIONSELF-ESTEEMRELATIONSHIPSURVIVALStages in the Development of National ConsciousnessSOCIETAL RESPONSIBILITYHuman Rights, Future Generations, Global Perspective. Shared Vision & Values, Trust, Openness, Fairness, Transparency.. Adaptability, Accountability, Equality, Freedom of Speech, Consensus.Rule of Law, Public Services, National Pride, Government Efficiency.Bureaucracy. Power, Elitism, Central Control . Open Communication, Conflict Resolution, Racial Harmony, Ritual. Inequality, Gender/Ethnic Discrimination. STRATEGIC ALLIANCES –QUALITY OF LIFESTRONG NATIONAL IDENTITYDEMOCRATIC PROCESSESINSTITUTIONAL EFFECTIVENESSHARMONIOUS RELATIONSHIPSFINANCIAL STABILITYCultural Transformation Tools ®7632154Environmental Awareness, Regional Collaboration. .Economic Prosperity, Health, Defense. Crime, Violence, Greed, Poverty, Materialism, Corruption.
Stages 1 to 3, the “lower” needs, focus on the basic requirements of nations – protection, safety, and economic security at stage 1; a sense of belonging, loyalty and harmonious internal group relationships at stage 2; and efficient and effective infrastructure, services and systems that create order and protect the rights of all citizens at stage 3. These first three stages are the basic building blocks for establishing internal stability in a nation, and creating a foundation for a democratic society. When the leaders of a nation are unable to fulfil these needs the nation will be inherently unstable.
In level 4, the focus of national development is on creating governance structures that give all citizens a voice, and guarantee personal freedom and equal opportunities for all. This stage of development involves a shift from social relationships based on ethnocentric cultures of blood and/or class, to social relationships based on cultures of meaning. This will only be possible if a) there is a shift from belief-based decision-making to values-based decision-making, and b) all citizens are able to meet their basic needs as described in stages 1, 2 and 3.
Stages 5 to 7, the “higher” needs, focus on building the resilience of the nation and its long-term sustainability – developing a climate of trust and internal cohesion (shared vision and shared values) at stage 5; creating mutually beneficial regional alliances with other nations at stage 6; and collaborating with other nations to improve the global human condition and build a sustainable future for upcoming generations at stage 7.
Stage 1: Survival Consciousness
The three major areas of focus or concerns in nations that are operating from this level of consciousness are: defence and the protection of borders: economic health and prosperity of the
masses; and the health and nutrition of all citizens. The main focus defence and protection of borders is on the establishment of a military force that can protect the territorial interests and natural resources of the nation from incursions by other nations. The main focus of economic health is on the solvency of the nation and the elimination of hunger and poverty. Of particular concern is the ability of the nation to create job opportunities for economically active citizens and provide economic safety nets for the poor through the taxation of the wealthy. Dysfunction in this area leads to unemployment, corruption and environmental degradation and large income disparities between the rich and poor. Crime and violence ensue as those who are closest to survival attempt to meet their needs in any way they can.
The main focus of health and nutrition is on the provision of clinics and hospitals and basic health care for all mothers and children; immunization against preventable diseases; and food security. Dysfunction in this area leads to persistent outbreaks of disease, a high incidence of infant deaths and the general morbidity of the population.
Other signs of dysfunction at this level of national consciousness include: the sanctioning of the military or police by decision-makers to oppress and brutalize citizens; the formation of secret police departments that spy on citizens; and the curtailment of the freedom of the press. These types of control are usually found in authoritarian regimes. Nations are dysfunctional at level 1, when a) anarchy and/or violence are endemic, b) there is no freedom of speech or right of protest, c) corruption is rife, and d) health services are non-existent, poorly managed or not adequate to meet the needs of the population and there is low life expectancy.
The keys to success at level 1 consciousness are, a) adequate territorial protection – safety from external threats, b) employment opportunities for economically active citizens –
guaranteeing a minimum wage and minimum level of prosperity for all citizens, c) economic safety nets established through taxation of the wealthy, and d) access to medical facilities for everyone – the health for all citizens.
Stage 2: Relationship Consciousness
There are three major areas of focus or concerns in nations that are operating from this level of consciousness: the peaceful resolution of conflicts between individuals and groups; the creation of a sense of belonging that embraces all citizens, and the loyalty of citizens to the government of the nation. The main focus of conflict resolution is on the institutionalization of the settlement of disputes between ethnic or other religious sub-groups and the creation of inter-group harmony. Dysfunction in this area leads to inter-ethnic/inter-religious violence, the victimization or unfair treatment of minorities or sub-groups based on gender, sexual preference, race, ethnicity, religion, etc. It also leads to the separation of towns and cities into ethnically defined areas. In the poorest of these areas law and order can become difficult to maintain if the stage 1 needs of the population in these areas are not being met. In level 2 nations, old racial, ethnocentric or religious wounds are healed in a spirit of reconciliation. Old fears are surfaced and publicly discussed.
Nations create a sense of belonging through the establishment and respect of traditions and rituals that build ethnocentric bonds. Respect for the traditions and rituals of minorities, by the majority, is essential for inter-racial/religious harmony. When issues related to belonging are not dealt with, the sub groups discriminated against feel a sense of exclusion. When citizens feel vulnerable or inadequately protected, loyalty and harmony evaporate. Loyalty arises out of a sense of being cared for. Whoever is doing the caring, earns the loyalty of the people. Thus,
when the nation fails to care for its citizens, particularly specific sub-groups, then the loyalty of those groups cannot be counted on in difficult circumstances. Pockets of insurgency can easily arise and civil war can erupt when victimization, exclusion and discrimination reach significant levels. When specific sub-groups feel like second-class citizens then there can be no internal stability in a nation. Nations that have mastered this level of consciousness create conditions where foreigners and strangers feel safe. Leaders must protect the safety and rights of all citizens if harmony and loyalty are to be maintained.
The keys to success at level 2 consciousness are, a) establishing and maintaining internal harmony, b) developing procedures for resolving conflicts, and c) respecting and honouring the racial/religious traditions and rituals of all groups.
Stage 3: Self-Esteem Consciousness
There are three major areas of focus or concerns in nations that are operating from this level of consciousness: establishment and enforcement of law and order; creation of institutions of governance based on efficient systems and processes; and provision of public infrastructure and services that enhance the productivity of the nation and the well-being and prosperity of the people. The main focus of the establishment of law and order is on a) drafting and implementation of codes, rules, regulations and laws that maintain order and protect the ownership, rights and civil liberties of all citizens of all religious denominations, b) adequate local enforcement of codes, rules, regulations and laws, c) appropriate levels of punishment for the transgression of the codes, rules, regulations and laws by individuals or organisations, and d) the right of appeal against public judgments to ensure fairness – social justice. Dysfunction in
this area leads to a higher incidence of criminal activity and a lack of public protection from unscrupulous businesses.
This is where the creation of efficient institutions of governance becomes important. Without adequate enforcement, the codes, rules, regulations and laws that are designed to protect citizens fall apart or fail to do their job. Efficient institutions are also important for the delivery of public services and the collection of taxes. Dysfunction in this area is generally caused by bureaucracy, resulting in inefficiency that leads to issues of productivity or lack of delivery of services and benefits. In poor nations, corruption can also be a severe handicap to institutional efficiency and productivity. The impact of these dysfunctions is particularly noticeable in the provision of public services such as shelter, transport, electricity, telecommunications, health and education. Poor institutional performance decreases the competitiveness of a nation and undermines its resilience. This can result in a shift to survival consciousness.
Other signs of dysfunction at this level of consciousness are the restriction of religious freedoms, excessive use of power to maintain control, highly centralized decision-making, hierarchical structures of governance, the use of military to maintain order, governance by non-sanctioned elites, despots or dictators and excessive bureaucracy. Nations that have mastered this level of consciousness usually have secular governance structures; compete effectively with other nations; and deliver prosperity to the majority of their citizens – establishing an upwardly mobile middle class. When these conditions are met citizens develop a sense of pride in the achievements and success of their nation.
The keys to success at level 3 consciousness are a) establishing laws, regulations and rules that establish order, b) enforcing these laws, regulations and rules, and c) ensuring efficient and effective taxation and the delivery of services to all groups.
Stage 4: Transformation Consciousness
The focus of the fourth level of national consciousness is on the consolidation of internal stability by creating a multi-cultural, non-discriminatory, egalitarian society that respects the rights of all citizens. Level 4 nations establish and protect personal freedoms, and seek to create equal opportunities for all citizens. They are democratically governed in multi-party political systems where every adult individual has a voice in electing local, regional and national representatives. Individuals are free to travel and have the right to a national passport. In nations that have achieved level 4 consciousness, boundaries between classes become diffuse. Elitism is frowned upon, and the influence of elites in governance is either eliminated or minimized. Decisions are made by consensus and compromise.
There must be freedom of movement, freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom to grow, freedom to learn, freedom to become anything you want to become. At the same time, the freedom of one individual or group of individuals must not impact on the freedom of another individual or group of individuals. Citizens must act responsibly giving due consideration to the good of the whole. The leadership must be accountable for the results they achieve. They must have the readiness, willingness and ability to change. Leaders will not be able deliver stage 4 needs if they cling to rigid, bureaucratic, hierarchical, or authoritarian institutions of governance.
Level 4 nations view survival through the lens of adaptability and resilience building. They are in the process of mastering internal stability by embracing diversity and are now seeking to establish the conditions that allow them to establish external equilibrium. They focus on continuous improvement and continuous renewal – constantly learning, researching and modernizing. In a climate of freedom and equal opportunity, people are responsible and accountable for their own futures. Consequently, education and research are high priorities. Primary and secondary education is compulsory for every child. University and college education is available to all those who want it. By focusing on education level 4 nations enhance their ability to compete in the global market place. Re-creation facilities are recognized as important for the well-being of citizens. Personal growth, personal development and self-actualization are encouraged.
At this level of consciousness the physically and economically disadvantaged as well as the elderly are adequately cared for through social safety nets. There is a natural structuring of society based on intelligence and merit. Wealth is redistributed through taxation. Those who make lots of money pay the highest taxes. Taxes are used not only to provide infrastructure and services, but also to provide safety nets for the poor. Level 4 nations protect themselves but they never start wars. They practice tolerance. They abolish the death penalty.
The keys to the success at level 4 consciousness are, a) to create a culture of responsible freedom, b) to create opportunities for all citizens to learn and grow and share in the prosperity of the nation, and c) to master internal stability and become agile and adaptable enough to maintain external equilibrium.
Stage 5: Internal Cohesion Consciousness
The focus of the fifth level of national consciousness is on the deepening the internal resilience of the nation by focusing on fairness, openness and transparency and thereby creating a climate of trust. Above all there must be trust. Trust is the oil that lubricates commerce. Trust is the water that calms the fire of dissent. Trust can only flourish where there is no fear. Fairness, openness and transparency are the conditions that shed light on the dark spaces where the last vestiges of fear lurk. Trust occurs when people operate with shared values. This will only happen if there is a willingness on the part of government and its leaders to hold new conversations with its citizens that they have never had before – not conversations about beliefs, but conversations about the underlying infrastructure of the mind and what it means to be truly human. The inquiry must be about the values that unite citizens, not the beliefs that separate. There can be no topic that is off-limits. There can be no secrets. Everyone must be included in the conversation.
The strongest nations on the planet are those with the highest levels of trust, and a set of shared values and a shared vision about the future they want to create that gives citizens a sense of meaning and purpose about the role the nation wants to play in the world. These discussions – on values and vision, must occur at both the national and community level. Community values and visions must support the nation’s values and visions. There must be an alignment between the head and the hearts of individuals, the head and the hearts of communities, and the head and the heart of the nation. There must be commitment, enthusiasm and passion behind the vision. The vision must have an internal dimension – what the nation will look like five to ten years hence, and an external dimension – the role the nation will play in the world. It is important that citizens come together around a common cause. Citizens must feel that they are able to play a role in building the nation and supporting it as it seeks to build a better world.
Level 5 nations experiment with new forms of democracy. Citizens are more involved in decision making through dialogue, referendums or Internet polling. Experts play a more decisive role in national affairs by handling topics that all agree should not be subject to political agendas. Children are listened to and given a voice in the affairs of the nation.
The key to success at level 5 consciousness is enhance the nation’s capacity for collective action by building a shared vision and adopting a set of shared values that build internal and external trust. Level 5 nations are cohesive, viable and independent. The nation’s shared value system influences its foreign policies, its attitude to human rights, and its willingness to provide untied aid to support people living in poverty.
Stage 6: External Cohesion Consciousness
The focus of the sixth level of national consciousness is on building mutually beneficial strategic alliances with other nations that share similar values, and deepening the sense of internal cohesion in the nation that began at level 4 with materializing the values of freedom and equality, and continued at level 5 with the practice of fairness, openness and transparency.
Level 6 nations form strategic alliances with like-minded nations to enhance their economic, social and environmental resilience, to have a stronger voice in dealing with global issues, to build their capacity to withstand global shocks, and to create the conditions that begin to build global sustainability. Level 6 nations see the big picture. They see the systemic causes to the problems of existence and take steps to influence the social climates and habitats that promote the evolution of consciousness. They practice responsibility for the whole. They share information with other nations; they cooperate and collaborate with each other on solving
common problems; and they are willing to give up aspects of their own sovereignty for the good of the whole. There is the beginning of the recognition of interdependence of all life.
Internally, level 6 nations focus on the beautification of the built environment, building environmental awareness among the population, and caring about the wildlife and the nation’s natural heritage. Citizens are encouraged to care for the non-human species and promote animal welfare. Level 6 nations make sure that no community gets left behind.
The keys to success at level 6 consciousness are a) to give up certain aspects of national sovereignty to a regional decision-making entity so that the collective resilience, sustainability and environmental and ecological diversity of member nations is increased, b) to make sure no community within the nation, and no nation in the regional alliance gets left behind c) to care for and protect the natural environment and ecology of the nation.
Stage 7: Unity Consciousness
The seventh level of national consciousness builds on sixth level by expanding the depth and breadth of international cooperation with regard to solving the problems of humanity, and at the same time deepening the sense of internal cohesion in the nation by supporting the self-actualization of the masses and expanding the focus on social and environmental sustainability to include ecological sustainability. There is recognition that it is not just humans that are interconnected, but all life forms. And, the survival and well-being all life forms, including the human species is dependent on the health of planet. At this level of consciousness, the concept of Gaia becomes real. There is compassion for all life. This recognition of the interconnectedness of all things impacts the nation’s perspective on globalization. At this level of consciousness, the
world is seen through the lens of interconnected energy streams – the fundamental quantum building blocks of the material world. Science, religion and psychology are seen as interconnected streams of the same ground of being.
Level 7 nations do not subscribe to the notion of separation. They see every aspect of life through the lens of interconnectedness. There is a deep understanding that the problems of global existence cannot be fully dealt with by either a national or regional decision-making authority. A new and more integrated global system of governance is promoted that supports our collective humanity and the Earth as humanity’s common life-support system. Nations relinquish aspects of their national sovereignty to regional authorities and the regional authorities in turn relinquish aspects of their sovereignty to a system of global governance that focus on creating the conditions that guarantee the sustainability of humanity and of the planet. Nations and regions are willing to give up the aspects of their sovereignty that deal with external equilibrium because they recognize their inability to control issues of global survival and resilience from a national or regional level. They understand that they can only create the conditions that promote the survival, safety and success of their citizens if all citizens in every nation can do the same and that the human species can only survive if the majority of the masses can achieve self-actualization. There is recognition that service to the whole is the same as enlightened self-interest; that giving and receiving are the same when viewed through the eyes of unity consciousness.
The key to success at level 7 consciousness will be the actualization of a new and deep understanding of how our energetic quantum existence impacts our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual understanding of life.
Full-Spectrum National Consciousness
On the optimistic side, we are perhaps decades away from creating our first full-spectrum nations. On the pessimistic side, it may take a century or two to achieve this objective. However long it takes, it is certain that the process will be painful. History shows us that human group structures and individual human beings frequently require a significant wake-up call before they are willing to effect the changes they need to develop a new way of being. What we have seen over the past few centuries is a consistent pattern of evolution which coincides with the seven stages of evolution of national consciousness. At one end of the spectrum, the nations of Africa and some isolated communities of the East are struggling at the survival level. At the other end of the spectrum, the Scandinavian nations together with the Netherlands have been relatively successful at building a strong level 4 consciousness while also laying foundations for level 5 consciousness. However, this progress has been achieved in relatively homogenous ethnic group structures. The openness of these societies to receive large influxes of deprived “foreign” citizens has exposed the level 2 shadow aspect of these cultures. They are now dealing with issues of racial disharmony and potential discrimination which will require significant attention before these nations can continue their journey to level 5 consciousness. Meanwhile, in the United States, and to a lesser extent the United Kingdom diversity issues have been at the forefront of domestic policy for decades. However, both these nations, and the majority of Anglophone
countries are in various degrees still attempting to manage the shift from level 3 to level 4 consciousness. What is likely to accelerate the shift to full-spectrum consciousness is a global melt-down of the financial systems, serious environmental issues caused by global warming, a global energy crisis, or global food security or global water shortages leading to widespread hunger and poverty. At this point in time the structures we have for dealing with these issues are primary national whereas the issues we are now facing are global. The United Nations together with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund have to date, been largely ineffective in dealing with such issues. It is only when the pains of existence are experienced by the majority, and in particular the wealthy nations, that we will see a significant upward shift in the development of national consciousness.
Key Findings
Values Plots Diagrams
Top Values - Top values are those that have received the majority of the votes.
The most common values in the personal lives of the Iceland people are family, honesty and responsibility.
The most common values within the Iceland Current Culture are materialistic, short-term focus, educational opportunities, and uncertainty about the future.
The Iceland participants would like their organisation to support the values of accountability, family and employment opportunities.
Value Jumps - A value jump occurs when there are more votes for a value in the Desired Culture than in the Current Culture. Listed below are the values with the largest increase in votes. The values in bold are in the top ten Desired Cultural values.
employment opportunities
financial stability
dependable public services
poverty reduction
social responsibility
Value Matches - Matching values indicate alignment. The greater the number of matching values, the greater the sense of motivation, commitment and authenticity there is within a group.
Personal Values and Current Culture: There are no matching values.
Current Culture and Desired Culture: There are no matching values. These would have been the attributes that the Iceland participants experience now and want to continue to support in the future.
Personal Values and Desired Culture: There are four matching values - family, honesty, accountability and financial stability. These are the values that, if chosen to be among the guiding principles of this nation, could easily be lived by the Icelandic people, as they are important in their daily lives. Family, honesty, accountability and financial stability are important because people want to see more emphasis given to these values.
New Values – These are values in the top ten Desired Culture Values list that are not in the top ten Current Culture Values list. These are the values that the respondents would like to see implemented.
There are ten new values in the values plot diagram.
Employment opportunities
Financial stability
Dependable public services
Social responsibility
Human rights
Poverty reduction
Potentially Limiting Values - Potentially limiting values are values that can cause frustration among participants and hinder the development of the nation if they are not dealt with in a timely manner.
There are eight potentially limiting values in the Current Culture. What are the causes and corrective actions behind these values?
Materialistic indicates potential problems with excessive consumption and possible environmental degradation.
Short-term focus is potentially limiting when it sacrifices long-term needs for short-term gains.
Uncertainty about the future is a sign that there is a lack of confidence among the people in the direction the nation is taking.
Corruption occurs when people are either close to survival or are overly focused on their self-interest and not on the common good.
Elitism occurs as a result financial or power disparities that separate the have’s from the have not’s, and causes divisiveness.
Wasted resources are a sign that the nation is not being well managed.
Gender discrimination occurs when women are not regarded as being equal to men and are not paid the same level of wages for similar employment.
Blame depicts a culture where people avoid taking responsibility for their actions by suggesting that others are at fault.
There are no potentially limiting values in the Desired Culture.
Entropy Report – This depicts the number of potentially limiting values per level in the Current Culture that were chosen by the survey participants. These represent all the potentially limiting values that were chosen and so may not be included in the top ten values on the Values Plot. Potentially limiting values are found only at levels 1, 2 and 3. This is a reflection of the degree of disorder within a system.
TOTAL NUMBER OF VOTES FOR Potentially limiting values and percentage OF TOTAL
Level 1
Level 2
Level 3
3418 out of 6350
54% of total votes
1828 out of 2158:
29% of total votes
822 out of 993:
13% of total votes
768 out of 1361:
12% of total votes
materialistic (419)
short-term focus (324)
uncertainty about the
future (275)
corruption (269)
poverty (158)
crime/violence (156)
unemployment (126)
pollution (94)
terrorism (7)
discrimination (196)
blame (177)
discrimination (171)
aggression (148)
hatred (81)
tradition 49)
elitism (265)
wasted resources(207)
bureaucracy (158)
government (133)
illiteracy (3)
strict moral/
religious codes (2)
This table shows that 54% of all votes were for potentially limiting values. This is a very high level of entropy indicating that the citizens of the Iceland do not think the country is on the right track.
Values Balance - There are four types of values: 1) “I” Individual - values that are expressed from within the person (honesty, integrity). 2) “R” Relationship - values that are demonstrated in terms of connecting with others (trust, accountability, teamwork). 3) “O” Organisational - values that focus on business issues (financial stability, productivity, customer satisfaction). 4) “S” Societal - values that focus on the common good outside of the business (community involvement, environmental protection, social justice). The Personal Values template does not contain any “O” Organisational values, so the index is IRS. The IROS index shows the distribution of these values types. This index reflects where the focus of a nation lies and its degree of balance.
A strong community with internal cohesion usually has at least three or four Individual values and three or four Relationship values in their top ten values.
Participants’ Personal Values distribution of values types – IRS = 6-5-0, shows that there are a significant number of "relationship" values in the list of top Personal Values. Relationships are considered important in Iceland.
The participants’ perception of the Current Culture – IROS (P) = 1-0-1-0 and IROS (L) =2-3-3-0, shows that there are individual, relationship and organisational issues in the Icelandic nation.
The participants’ Desired Culture Values – IROS = 3-2-3-2, shows a positive and well-distributed range of values types.
The balance of values types in the Desired Culture as compared to those in the Current Culture show an increase in “individual,” “relationship,” “organisational” and “societal” values.
Values Predominance and Gaps - A values gap represents a level without values. It means that this level is a) unconsciously taken care of, b) a blind spot, or c) represents the next area of growth for a group of individuals or a nation.
In the Personal Values, the positive values are located in four of the seven levels with predominance at level 5 - Internal Cohesion. There are no values in level 3 - Self-esteem, level 6 - Making a Difference and level 7 - Service. Level 3 concerns personal self-esteem. Level 6 addresses involvement/concern for the local community. Level 7 addresses service to humanity, compassion to others and societal involvement.
In the Current Culture, the positive values are distributed in two of the seven levels with no predominance at any level. There are no values in level 2 - Relationships, level 4 - Transformation, level 5 - Internal Cohesion, level 6 - Making a Difference and level 7 - Service. Level 2 is concerned with interpersonal relationships. Level 4 represents the willingness of a nation to change and be open to input from participants. Level 5 represents the strength and health of the internal community of a nation. Level 6 is the level of internal connectedness through coaching and mentoring and external connectedness through partnerships and strategic alliances. Level 7 addresses long-term perspectives, ethics, compassion for others and social responsibility.
In the Desired Culture, the positive values are distributed in six of the seven levels showing near full-spectrum consciousness with no predominance at any level. There are no
values in level 6 - Making a Difference. Level 6 is the level of external connectedness and deep internal connectedness.
Values Distribution Diagram
Comparison of Personal and Current Culture Values: The distribution of the Personal Values is focused at level 5 - Internal Cohesion (24%). Level 5 represents personal cohesion, maturity and/or a search for meaning.
There is severe misalignment between the Personal and the Current Culture Values of the nation:
39% of the participants’ Personal Values are situated in the upper three levels of consciousness compared to 17% of their Current Culture values.
38% of their Personal Values are situated in the lower three levels of consciousness compared to 71% of their Current Culture values.
23% of their Personal Values are situated at level 4 compared to 12% of their Current Culture values.
Comparison of Current and Desired Culture Values: The distribution of values in the Current Culture is focused at level 1 - Survival (34%). Level 1 represents financial stability and the safety and security of participants.
There is severe misalignment between the Current Culture and the Desired Culture values:
17% of the Current Culture Values are situated in the upper three levels of consciousness, compared to 38% of their Desired Culture Values.
71% of the Current Culture Values are situated in the lower three levels of consciousness compared to 35% of their Desired Culture values.
12% of their Current Culture Values are situated at level 4 compared to 27% of their Desired Culture values.
Comparison of Desired and Personal Values: The distribution of values in the Desired Culture is focused at level 4 - Transformation (27%). Level 4 represents the willingness of an organisation to change and be open to input from participants.
There is close alignment between the Desired Culture and the Personal values:
39% of the Personal Values are situated in the upper three levels of consciousness, compared to 38% of their Desired Culture Values.
38% of their Personal Values are situated in the lower three levels of consciousness, compared to 35% of their Desired Culture Values.
23% of their Personal Values are situated at level 4 compared to 27% of their Desired Culture values.
Comparison of Positive Values: The comparison of Current and Desired Culture positive values show an increase of 8% at level 1, an increase of 7% at level 2, an increase of 15% at level 4, an increase of 14% at level 5 and an increase of 5% at level 7.
At level 1, people want to see a strong focus on employment opportunities, financial stability and poverty reduction.
At level 2, people want to see a strong focus on family.
At level 4, people want to see a strong focus on accountability and social responsibility.
At level 5, people want to see a strong focus on honesty and optimism.
At level 7, people want to see a strong focus on human rights.
The Personal Values of the Iceland people show that the relationships they have with others are significant in their lives, as shown by family and friendship, and they honour these relationships through authentic interactions and openness, as demonstrated by honesty, trust and respect. They understand the need to take care of basics, as seen by financial security, and taking ownership of the outcomes of their actions is important to them, as shown by accountability and responsibility. They appreciate flexibility and optimism, as shown by adaptability and positive attitude, and humour/fun shows that they embrace the lighter side of life.
The positive values in the Current Culture show that the country supports the advancement of knowledge through educational opportunities and understands the importance of taking care of citizen’s material needs.
The people in Iceland want to see major improvements in the culture of the nation. They would like to see ten new values. They want to see an increase in “individual,” “relationship,” “organisational” and “societal” values.
Iceland is severely hindered by the dynamics of the following values: materialistic, short-term focus, uncertainty about the future, corruption, elitism, wasted resources, gender discrimination, and blame. These potentially limiting values are undermining the foundation of the country and indicate a high level of anxiety about the current direction of the nation. The overall level of entropy is 54%, showing that much of the energy in this nation is consumed by financial issues, (level 1), conflicts between people (level 2) and issues around how the country functions (level 3).
The participants in Iceland have chosen new values that call upon the leaders to take ownership of the outcomes of their actions and to embrace the needs of the collective, as shown by the values of accountability, social responsibility and human rights.
The values of financial stability and poverty reduction are a strong call to build a viable foundation for the people in this country and to lift up those who have the least.
They want to see this country create job opportunities and well-functioning systems so that people can take care of their basic needs, as seen by employment opportunities and dependable public services.
Honesty is a call for open communication and for a clear understanding about direction and processes.
The participants of Iceland want more emphasis on family, showing the importance of building a nation that understands the importance of these relationships and dependencies.
Optimism shows that the participants in Iceland want to move from fear and develop a positive and hopeful outlook for their future.
The people in Iceland are notably positive and flexible and place great importance on the people and relationships in their lives. They appreciate authenticity in their interactions and honour the people in their lives through showing respect and being open. These are people who believe in taking ownership of their actions and who feel a sense of responsibility for those around them. They understand that building a solid financial foundation is essential in creating stability. Their values are concentrated at level 2, showing their focus on interpersonal relationships, at level 4, showing that they are open to change and hold energy for renewal, and at level 5, showing a strong potential for internal connectedness.
The Current Culture values for Iceland show a positive focus on creating educational opportunities for their people and on meeting people’s basic survival needs. The high level of cultural entropy indicates that there are many underlying issues that are not being addressed. The citizens of Iceland are experiencing a lack of accountability on the part of leaders, broken trust in relationships, and a lack of fair opportunities for all. They see a heavy emphasis on
personal gain and individualism as shown by the focus on materialism and elitism. They believe the resources of the nation are not been used efficiently and the proper working of the country is being compromised by corruption. There is an overall feeling of unease about the future and the direction of Iceland. The 54% entropy reveals a nation at risk. The people are clearly asking for change. The key issue facing Iceland is a lack of strong leadership. The people are looking for leaders who are authentic, responsible and accountable.
The Desired Culture for Iceland reveals a nearly full-spectrum set of values, indicating that the collective wisdom of the participants. They want to make sure that people have work, that family ties are strengthened, and both ethnic and gender discrimination is eliminated. They want to see a new attitude that reflects their own natural optimism. They want the government to provide dependable public services, and help them develop a strong economy, free from corruption and elitism.
The cultural entropy, 54%, needs to be reduced. Identify the meaning behind the potentially limiting values of materialistic, short-term focus, uncertainty about the future, corruption, elitism, wasted resources, gender discrimination, and blame. These are problem areas that need immediate attention. Create focus groups and ask the people of Iceland what they see as the causes, limiting behaviours and negative results of each of these values, and the corrective actions that they or others might take.
Ascertain what the participants mean by the values of accountability, social responsibility and human rights and what actions are necessary to make these values more prominent.
Hold discussions to learn what people are asking for by the values of employment opportunities, financial stability and dependable public services. Determine what needs to be done to correct these situations.
Ask people about optimism and what that would look like if it were being lived. Talk about what deters this and how to address these issues.
Determine what systems or programs are needed to put poverty reduction into action on an on-going basis.
Ascertain what is meant by the value of honesty. Who is not being honest? Determine what behaviours they want to see more of that are associated with this value.
Discuss what measures are necessary to improve focus on family.
The Iceland report includes the following diagrams:
Values Assessment: Shows the alignment of the top Personal, Current Culture and Desired Culture Values according to the Seven Levels of Consciousness.
Values Distribution Histogram: Compares the distribution of all votes for Personal, Current Culture and Desired Culture values according to the Seven Levels of Consciousness.
Comparison of Positive Values: Shows the percentage of votes for Personal, Current Culture and Desired Culture values according to the Seven Levels of Consciousness.
CTS Diagram: Shows the percentage of votes for the top three levels of consciousness (Common Good), the level of Transformation and the bottom three levels (Self-interest).
Values Plot Legend:
P = Positive I = Individual
L = Potentially Limiting (hollow dots) R = Relationship
O = Organisational
S = Societal
Survey Data:
Iceland overall – 635 participants
Group (635)
Personal Values
Current Culture Values
Desired Culture Values
human rights (S)
honesty (I)
humour/fun (I)
positive attitude (I)
trust (R)
honesty (I)
optimism (I)
accountability (R)
adaptability (I)
responsibility (I)
accountability (R)
social responsibility (S)
educational opportunities (O)
elitism (R) (L)
wasted resources (O) (L)
dependable public services (O)
family (R)
friendship (R)
respect (R)
blame (R) (L)
gender discrimination (R) (L)
family (R)
financial stability (I)
corruption (O) (L)
material needs (I)
materialistic (I) (L)
short-term focus (O) (L)
employment opportunities (O)
financial stability (I)
poverty reduction (O)
uncertainty about the future (I) (L)
PL = 11-0
IRS (P) = 6-5-0
IRS (L) = 0-0-0
PL = 2-8
IROS (P) = 1-0-1-0
IROS (L) = 2-3-3-0
PL = 10-0
IROS (P) = 3-2-3-2
IROS (L) = 0-0-0-0
Appendix E: 2009 National Assembly Main Conclusions
Natural Habitat
Leading in environmental matters
Green Iceland: Clean nature and responsible use of natural resources
Increased focus and specialization in environmental matters
Keep Iceland clean and unpolluted
Iceland = clean country, unpolluted water, air, products
Society which is built around green energy (industry, el-cars)
Setting an example for other nations in environmental friendly energy
Iceland leading the way in using clean energy sources
Use own/clean energy sources
Sensible use of natural resources
Use natural resources in balance with the country's nature
Respect for the nation's natural resources
Use Iceland's resources in a sensible way
Use the country's natural resources for the nation
Stop selling cheap energy to aluminum smelters
No more heavy industry
Balance between man and nature
Better access to nature
Respect for the nature
Everyone be able to enjoy nature
Where nature benefits from the doubt
Forestry to bind more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere
Realistic plan for economical and sustainable utilization of natural resources
Innovative society in alignment with nature
A holistic view of natural protection in alignment with the nation
Ecological Transport
That Iceland will become an innovator in using electricity in transport
Support for changing petrol cars to methane without buying a new car
El-cars: stop talking, start doing
Favorable terms for el-cars in form of tax/customs relief
Significant improvement of public transport
That public transport be more economical than private transport
Increased support for public transport
Promote environmental consciousness
Strengthen environmental consciousness
Promote ecological way of living
More ecological food
Environmentally friendly and healthy society in body and soul
Decrease junk mail
Be aware, that we are part of nature's ecosystem
That Iceland be an honest and industrious society
Healthy and honest society
Disciplined and honest society
Rebuild honesty in the League of Nations
Tolerance and respect towards diverse views
Respect for our land and environment
Respect for cultural value and heritage
Critical thought, without prejudice and open minded
Just distribution of taxes
Just distribution of our country's resources
A society based on justice
A just society with everyone empowered
Equality irrespective of gender, age, class or nationality
Equality for minority groups
Equal wages for same jobs
Gender equality
Creativity, initiative, power
A society of innovation, entrepreneurial spirit and hard work
Free and healthy business environment
Freedom of speech
Charity be a key driver in people's relations
Citizens show solidarity towards one another
A society caring for its young and old generations
Support for the “have-nots” in society
An integrated and responsible citizen of the global village
Social responsibility
Aware of causes and consequences
Clear rules of the game
A family-friendly society
Family-friendly employment policies
Increased time for families to be together
Open and informed dialogue on social matters
Critical view on the information from authorities and influential people to the citizens
Strong and transparent democracy
Equal opportunities
Handicapped to enjoy full human rights
Equal economic status in every home
Employment for everybody
Everyone can walk safely along the streets
Transparency and no favoritism or entitlements
A more open governance system
Better flow of information; follow up
Human Factors
Family and upbringing
Strengthen the role of the family in upbringing
Stronger families and improved policies for upbringing
Parents to give clear and coordinated messages to their children
Grow children to be open-minded
Assist the total family
Support to large families with children revised from scratch
Maternal leave for 12 months
Special force against mobbing
Protect our children's rights
Let children be children
Child care a priority
Protect the rights of children for growth, caring and education
Improved democracy for kids
Work with the needs of children in mind
The extended family in new context
Change social patterns so that children can spend more time with adults
Strengthen family ties, the image of the family and nurture the connection within the extended family
Increased time for families to be together
The elderly and the children together again
Generation mix in daily life and work
Stronger ties between the elderly and children (bring the elderly into the kindergarten)
Connection between the elderly and children strengthened (bring the elderly into the schools)
Strengthen family responsibility
A real parental responsibility
Social responsibility for the welfare of the family
The family to promote and strengthen core values and ethics
Secure that the family is in reality the cornerstone of the society
The family is the main pillar of society
Culture and art
Protect our cultural heritage
A rich cultural society
Protect our cultural life
Protect Icelandic culture and language
The land of culture and art
Knowledge and learning
A focused education on responsible participation in society
Teach finance in schools
All children get educated on democracy throughout the educational system
That the school system takes up education about the societal values, ethics and respect
Increase the weight of social skills in primary schools
Increase emphasis on critical thinking and ethics
Emphasis on respect in education
Discipline, honesty and transparency in all aspect of the educational system
Emphasize quality in the school system
Performance appraisal for teachers
Eliminate mobbing
More male teachers for the boys
Better education, respect for the teaching profession = better use of financial resources, better results
Educate for environmental consciousness
Teach respect for sustainability in the school system
Educate and change minds about recycling
Increase environmental education in schools
Strengthen education in primary schools about the use of nature and resources
General education in schools about the way we should treat nature
Emphasize entrepreneurship and innovation
Entrepreneurship taught in schools
Strengthen creative thinking
Build education system which is based on participation, not indoctrination
Focused preventive measures in schools
Increase sports training and education
Education and protection against computer addiction
Better solutions for kids with addiction problems
Increased emphasis on technical and vocational training and education
Increased contribution to technical education would enhance innovation in the future
Maintain vocational education
Vocational training to have greater weight within the education system
Vocational training be significantly improved
Strengthen the technical schools. Learning opportunities for all
Greater emphasis on preventive measures, less in dealing with consequences
Emphasize first-degree preventive measures in healthcare
Strengthen drug control
Get psychologists and psychiatrists into the welfare system.
Preventive measures and healthy life
Strengthen public health
Individuals responsible for their own health
Strong consciousness around the importance of training and consumption of healthy food
Strengthen sports in preliminary schools
Make health and healthy lifestyle a sought-after feature in life
Good and efficient healthcare system
Strong and solid healthcare available to all
Basic healthcare service secured
Cheap healthcare
Better organized medical service
A more diverse operational form in healthcare
Emphasize people's possibilities to stay home and get service instead of being institutionalized
Improve the cost consciousness of citizens and healthcare staff
Increase in-house nursery (home service)
A holistic treatment and follow up
Healthcare service across disciplines
Care and Safety
Strong support for the elderly
The elderly be supported to stay home as long as they want to or can
Take good care of our older citizens
Build a combined old age home and kindergarten
Secure we don't have to worry about getting old
Secure proper life and rights to pensionists
That the elderly enjoy human rights and acceptable economic conditions
Pay basic compensation to pensionists without deducting other income
Allow people to work as long as they can
Secure good service for the elderly
Welfare and safety of our citizens
That it will be good to live and work in Iceland
Long-term view in organizing welfare system
Safe environment
Emphasize wellbeing, not materialism
A society without poverty
Social safety to reach everyone equally
Build safety net for those in need
Respect and value work within the care sector
Governance and Public Administration
Active and real democracy
Improve citizen democracy
Strong and transparent democracy
Critical review of government and influential parties' public communication
That Iceland will be a fully democratic state where the individual counts
Increase direct democracy
National Assembly every four years
Improve democracy and informed dialogue
Personal elections
Abolish financial support for political parties
Thorough implementation of the three-tier governance system
Real separation of judicial, legislative and executive power
A real three-tier governance system
Full separation of executive and legislative power
Constitutional assembly to construct new Constitution which is binding for Althingi
Revise outdated governance system and distribute around the country
Strengthen the judicial system
Society built on justice
Strengthen law enforcement, Customs and Coast Guard
Criminal sentences in line with the crimes
Equal opportunities for engaged in lawsuits irrespective of financial means
Prostitution, porn and sexual violence be nonexistent in Iceland
More just distribution of income
Borrowers and lenders on equal footing
Equal quality of life
Simpler wage, tax and benefit system
Fair distribution of taxes
Secure settlement throughout Iceland
Equal living conditions between different geographical regions
Improve possibilities for work in rural areas
Strengthen the infrastructure of the rural regions
Discuss EU without prejudice
Independent outside of EU
Iceland not to join EU
Join EU
Iceland to participate actively in international cooperation
That we dare to learn from and work with other nations
Iceland to regain trust of her neighboring countries
Active international cooperation
Rebuild honesty in the community of nations
Continue as an independent country
Secure safety and human rights
Freedom of speech
Everyone to walk safely through the streets
Constituencies be based on one vote one person
Safe environment
Handicapped to enjoy full human rights
Equality among citizens
Equality irrespective of gender, age or nationality
Equal voting rights
Equal status of the sexes in public discussion and decisions
Legalize equal gender representation in boards
Same wages for same jobs
That handicapped be visible and respected members of society
Financial objectives serve family objectives
A family-friendly tax system
Secure that families have realistic possibilities to run their finances responsibly and make plans that stick
Wage terms and economic system to assume one wage earner in families
That the family will have a sound financial basis
Develop ways and means to enable citizens to live in their privately held apartments
Enable generations to stay together through tax and social support
Strengthen R&D for sustainable solutions
Offer education that supports sustainability
Creativity and innovation in sustainability
Develop technology to cope with future challenges in a fully sustainable way
Transparent public service that serves the public
Active regulatory institutions
Better informed and transparent public administration
A society where governmental decisions are grounded in values and can withstand transparent scrutiny
Hiring within the administration to be based on qualifications, not kinship or friendship
Everything on the table; no corruption
Honest politicians
Active political accountability
Out with special interest, in with public interest
Society above party politics or interests
More open governance system
Equal rights for information
Admission test for political candidates for Althingi
Think more long-term
Responsible and healthy business sector
Improve business ethics
Abolish privileges
Transparency and no cliques
Managerial responsibility crystal clear within private and public sector
Freedom to act coupled with responsibility
Freedom and resilience in business environment
More diverse ownership within the retail sector
Abolish monopoly wherever
Distribute ownership of media
Sustainable value creation
Emphasize overall sustainability
Sustainability = energy need, qualities of the land and air and wild livestock
Sustainable utilization of land and see for production
Moderate and economical utilization of natural resources
Shared goals for preservation and utilization of natural resources
Promote sustainability in corporations
Business in alignment with nature and environment
Emphasis on recycling and re-use
Ecological society
Focused implementation of recycling procedures in homes and corporations
National ownership of natural resources
All national resources under public ownership
Avoid defining property rights over resources
Fair distribution of the nation's resources
Don't sell natural resources, only rent
Sovereignty over our natural resources
Utilize the country's energy resources
Domestic energy
Green energy
No further heavy industry
Increase the weight of energy to other uses than aluminum factories
Set the standard for others in environmentally friendly energy
Continue building aluminum smelters
All use of energy and all transport using domestic energy
Reduce electricity prices to small industry
All cars on electricity
Develop what the land has to offer
Create value from production of food, energy and IT solutions
Use our opportunities in such a way that they will deliver the most value for coming generations
Utilize our own production potential in a better way
Food safety, agriculture and fisheries
Strengthen Icelandic agriculture and improve the country's sustainability in providing food
Operate an efficient agriculture
Iceland itself is the country's most valuable employment opportunity
Transform our greenhouse production to large scale enterprise
Make finished goods from our natural resources
Strengthen culturally-based tourism
Greatly increase fish farming
Emphasize light industries instead of energy-intensive industries
Clear strategy in international business
Iceland to be an active participant in international cooperation
Icelandic: "yes thank you!" does not mean foreign: "no thank you!"
Attract foreign investment
Review our currency policy
Innovation and development
Strengthen Research and Development
Increase emphasis on research, basic science and technology
Build stronger research and innovation
Research and product innovation
Experimental society because of compactness and homogeneity
Research and development be one of the cornerstones of society
Strong educational system
Better ties between schools and the corporate sector
Better ties between the schools and industry
Where creative urge and new thinking thrive
Society of innovation, entrepreneurial spirit and thrift
Emphasize creative thinking and new employment opportunities
That Iceland be the crucible of innovation in design and art
Motivate for innovation
Support start-ups, ideas and creative thinking
Tax relief for innovation
Support to entrepreneurs and small business
Foster and strengthen innovation in agriculture
Innovation in tourism
Create value from a fresh ground
Strengthen design and art
Turn cultural life into business
Develop new industries which are grounded in the uniqueness of Iceland
Export congeniality and knowledge
Iceland: A center for sea transport through the Arctic Sea
Electric cars: Stop talking, start implementing
Electricity on all cars
Develop health and wellness business in Iceland
A health paradise
Create value from cultural life
Strong knowledge industry
Be in the forefront within software technology and communications
Forward seeking with roots in our nation's history
Utilize our sources of differentiation
Utilize our geographical position
Export knowledge and innovation
Positive working environment
A society where everyone takes part: children, adults, elderly, and handicapped
A society for more people than the most qualified
Value different jobs more equally
Qualifications be the basis for choice, not special interests
Shorter working hours; daytime work enough to provide for necessary means
Flexible working hours for families
Balance between work and family
Improve working ethics
Work for everyone
More opportunities for people that don't fancy traditional educational process
Utilize the knowledge of the elderly

Copyright Tom Christensen 2015