Integral Type

As our new century unfolds, it is becoming more and more evident that the major problems of our time are systemic problems, which means that they are all interconnected and interdependent. To solve them, we need to learn how to think systemically—in terms of relationships, patterns, processes, and context.

  —Fritjof Capra

What is Integral Type?

Integral Type is a holistic approach to understanding and working with individual differences. Instead of viewing the human psyche only through a single lens, Integral Type integrates multiple typology lenses—as well as other proven maps of human development—for a more comprehensive view of who we are and how we work. This makes it a more effective tool for catalyzing real and lasting change in individuals, leaders, teams, and organizations.
In today’s complex and dynamic world, it’s crucial that we don’t get stuck in narrow or limiting approaches to our most challenging problems. We need a complete toolbox, along with the flexibility and discernment to use the right tool in the right situation. That’s what our integral approach offers.
A unique feature of Integral Type is the focus on mindfulness leading to:

  • Increased self-awareness and self-leadership
  • Richer and more rewarding perspective taking
  • Accelerated personal development

Integral Type is an approach that recognizes that we are by nature integral. “Integral,” in one sense, means necessary to the whole. As individuals we are integral parts of our families, teams, organizations, societies, and even all of humanity. “Integral” also means whole within oneself. That means we include our physical, cognitive, emotional, and spiritual aspects. To live with integrity means that we are continually learning how to align and synchronize these personal aspects with the greater wholes of which we are a part.

Easier said than done! That’s where Integral Type can help.

Integral Type recognizes that we are whole from the moment of conception—and there is evidence to support that aspects of our personality are also inborn. Yet, at the same time, we are like unfinished projects—and the task of life is to fulfill the potential of who we really are. But how do we know where to begin? What are the possibilities? What are the best practices?

From the moment we learn to use language, we use names and categories to help us know the essence of things. Like the child who calls all furry animals “doggies,” then later recognizes cats as different from dogs as we mature we learn more sophisticated, finely differentiated categories. The same holds true for our potential. As we learn to recognize differences in how each of us thinks, feels, behaves, and interacts, we become able to more effectively foster our own development, unlock the hidden potential in our teams and organizations, and become more effective change agents within our society.

Types

Types are generically defined as “a number of things or persons sharing a particular characteristic, or set of characteristics, that causes them to be regarded as a group, more or less precisely defined or designated; class; category.” Some ‘types’ are constructed categories made through factor analysis. Other types are organically present in nature, like the kinds of trees—conifer and broad leaf. The biological definition is more what is meant by a typology: “a genus or species that most nearly exemplifies the essential characteristics of a higher group.”

Typologies

Typologies provide us with useful maps for understanding individual differences. Since human systems are by nature complex, a single model of typology is not enough. Single models alone give only a slice of the picture and are prone to error, so a multiple-model approach is needed. Living systems have essential qualities that define their essences. These essential qualities can be described. There are many typologies that have the potential to bring unique information to understanding our natural inborn tendencies as well as our behavior. Some describe a loose clustering of characteristics or peripheral aspects of deeper patterns. Others, like the typologies used in Integral Type describe core essential qualities of the patterns. Each model in the Integral Type system is described in terms of the patterns and the processes and takes into account the context.

An Integral Approach

Integral Type takes an Integral approach to typology. An Integral approach is one that takes into account the interrelatedness of many aspects of reality. It is based on the work of philosopher, Ken Wilber, who created on of the world’s first integral “maps” for identifying and indexing and identifying these aspects. The Integral Map includes four quadrants or aspects of reality, multiple lines and levels of development, states of consciousness, and types. Anytime we focus on only one aspect of reality we only have a piece of the puzzle, and when we assume that one piece of the puzzle will solve the problem there are often unintended consequences. However, when we act with greater awareness of the full reality we are facing, we naturally tend to find more sustainable solutions to our problems.

Development

Integral Type also embraces maps that describe cultural themes and ego development. Since the cultures in which we live influence the expression of our types and individuality, it is useful to have maps for understanding development in cultures and in our own meaning making. These maps help us know whether our observations are about the type or about some influence on the expression of that type.

The maps are not the territory.

As you explore the references in this section on Integral Type, please keep in mind that we hold these models or maps lightly. They are helpful and useful if they can help us navigate the territory of what it means to be human in this complex world. If the maps do not accurately represent the territory they will be less useful, and if we assume that these maps ARE the territory, we will lose sight of what is really there, what we are doing, where we are going, and why we are even looking.

Typology can open the doors to development or it can keep them shut. The Integral Type approach is designed to keep the doors open through its methods, processes, and practices. Only then can typology fulfill the promise of helping organizations, leaders, teams, and individuals provide what the world needs now.