Process Enneagram ™

posted in: Systematics, Systems | 2

Process Enneagram” is the phrase Dick Knowles uses to describe his approach towards applying the tools of Systematics to guiding an organization. The organization being guided might be an individual or a corporation. I consider the Process Ennagram a powerful tool that takes much study to use effectively.

The enneagram has a varied history. Its diagram has nine points around a circle (0 and 9 at the top point, points 1 to 8 clockwise around the circle. The connections among the points form a triangle and hexad (six components). The hexad has a path formed by the repeating fraction for 1/7 in base ten – 0.142857142857… as well as the path formed by following the circle clockwise (1-2-4-5-7-8, skipping the 3-6-9 triangle).

My understanding of its application is thus – working backward from what’s popular now to earlier understandings. The vast majority of the hundreds of books that have been published on the enneagram describe a typology of human personalities. The ideas have roots in the work of Oscar Ichazo. People who studied at his Arica Institute brought their understandings to new communities. Some in the Jesuit community have embraced this typology. I’ve found value in finding my place in that typology, and how the typology describes directions of growth or decay in the evolution of the type with which I identify.

There’s another take – a typology of body types – that has similar but different connections to the enneagram’s mathematical roots. I’ve not studied this in depth. I have a friend who lived for decades in a community that used this typology on a regular basis. She finds the typology useful in understanding how the body types encountered in self and others affect connections of the individual to the world.

What seems to me the deepest roots come to the West via George Ivanovich (G. I.) Gurdjieff. One of his students – John Godolphin ( J. G.) Bennett – built on these ideas in what he termed Systematics. Tony (Anthony George Edward) Blake has devoted his life to keeping the flame of a certain approach to concept-development and self-development alive. He has edited much of Bennett’s work, and written many books, including The Intelligent Enneagram.

Systematics has been applied in corporate America through the efforts of Charles Krone. I know of this through my father’s career in Organizational Development within DuPont. Dick Knowles once managed a DuPont plant in West Virginia. He describes his time there – and what he learned through his work there – in his book The Leadership Dance: Pathways to Extraordinary Organizational Effectiveness. Observing the differences in how people performed during crises versus in every day life led to new understandings. He developed a particular way of putting the “pieces” of Sytematics into a new variant of the enneagram that he has termed the Process Enneagram. I consider it a tool that, if used with study and humility, could foster seismic shifts in the way organizations run.

I thirst to work with transformational tools – such as this one – within organizations. I know not how to engage [the small, local organizations with which I’d be most interested in working] to consider the use of tools as complex and foreign as the Process Enneagram in steering an organization. If any reader is interested in trying/using/discussing this tool or others to re-conceive an organization, I’d be thrilled to talk with you.