Spiral dynamics: the matrix effects

In my blogs about critical mass I have put the spiral (see picture 1) as one of the most fundamental forms in nature as well as in social networks of people, for example during an uprising or the makings of an innovation.




Picture 1: a spiral from openness to focus

For example, in an open innovation environment, a broad gala of ideas first flows in: the openness phase (3). Many ideas will fall away, but a few will be further elaborated in projects: the mass phase (2). Ultimately, only a few of these projects will lead to a usable product: the focus phase (1).

An expansion of the spiral, is the torus, consisting of a downward and upward spiral, see image 2. A torus completes the system: energy can freely flow from openness to focus and then through focus towards openness. The latter, the reverse spiral, is the case, for example, when new products (1) lead to new projects (2) and entirely new ideas (3).

double spiral

Picture 2: the torus

Like the spiral, the torus manifests itself not only in social networks but also in many forms in nature (see picture 3): for example in the energy flows of trees, people, apples, hurricanes, the earth and the galaxy respectively.

torus in nature

Picture 3: The torus in nature

From a scientific perspective, there are three types of effects between objects: causal, correlation or quantum. Where the particles, or objects, are close to each other, causal connections will be found more quickly (phase 1, focus). For example, if you type a text, the result is displayed directly on the computer screen. In the mass phase (2) the particles lie a bit further apart and then one finds coherence, or correlation. An example of this is that a project can fail or succeed as a result of a multitude of causes, many of which are not convincingly the decisive success factor, but they do count. In the case of the openness phase, the particles are spread as widely as possible over the entire spectrum so that no coherent insights can be directly detected. Quantum mechanics teaches that they still can be there: non-local connections. A well-known example is that a particle on this side of the world is intertwined with a particle on the other side of the world. In the openness phase, for example, it often happens that people who live independently of each other come to the same idea or the same invention.

As decsribed a spiral can be divided in 3 phases: focus, mass and openness (FMO). A phase consists of a multiplicity of interaction between the mentioned effects and there is also interaction between the phases. As a result, the effects mentioned exist in five phases of a spiral, now including two transitional phases:

Focus x Focus, Focus x Mass, Mass x Mass, Mass x Openness, and Openness x Openness

Therefore the spiral exists actually has 5 types of effects within 5 phases. Logically, a double spiral, the torus, consists of 10 types of effects in 10 phases. It suffices to focus on the 5 species that take place within one spiral. In the case of the torus, the reverse sequence is added again.

The five effects are based on the described, whether or not, combinations of three basic scientific effects: causal, correlation and quantum. Causal is causal, correlation refers to coherence between factors and the whole, and quantum effects are often non-local.

These three effects influence each other: pure focus consists of causal effects, pure mass is based on correlation and pure openness consists of quantum effects. Between focus and mass, and mass and openness, there are 2 transition phases (Focus x Mass and Mass x Openness) where a combination of effects takes place. We have made a matrix of the 5 phases (see picture 4). This can be filled for many situations, in this framework we aim at uprising (‘opstand.net’).

matrix effects spiral

Picture 4: matrix effects spiral dynamics

These concern the possible substantive results of the interaction of the effects associated with each phase.

Note that in this matrix the spiral is classified from small and precise (focus) to large and wide (openness): from increasing an effect, resulting in an event, rolling into inequality, the effect of changing society by revolution, to possibilities to influence history. This is only an enumeration of the last horizontal axis in each submatrix. When studying all the combination of axes, there is much more information about each phase.

Critical mass, the snowball effect, where suddenly major changes take place, often occurs in the transition phase from mass to openness; at one moment, mass is still somewhat intact at the other moment, then suddenly the uprising is bursting out and a revolution is taking place very quickly. In the openness phase the events end up in all directions. In fact, in the openness phase, everything that has been achieved by a revolt, often quickly falls apart again. Then sooner or later there will be a new inverse process from openness to mass and focus, the other side of the torus. Both spirals occur simultaneously in many forms and both directions.

The usefulness of this matrix is ​​to gain insight into the dynamics of spirals by filling them in for different topics of interest.

The eavesdropping act in Holland: yes or no?

The eavesdropping act

There is an eavesdropping act on the way that allows the tapping of civilians on a large scale. Not only suspects, but also innocent civilians, can be tapped of for security. ‘The act ensures that intelligence services AIVD and MIVD have more powers. At the moment, they can only tap very focused internet traffic: if they know which connection they want to tap into. From January 1, they may also tap into larger volumes of traffic, searching for suspicious patterns’ (NOS, 2017). That’s why it’s called the drag-act. In addition, the data collected may be kept for three years, which got a lot of criticism from the members of the Council of State who are wondering if this is in line with the European Human Rights Convention.


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Triggerpoints: 10 catastrophic blunders of companies

Triggerpoints often lead to protest and uprisings. The next 10 disasters have caused a lot of critic, especially about the ethics of business. The scandals mentioned are so large that they led to a critical mass of protesting people: they got broad media attention and companies were put under pressure to undo or compensate their deficiencies.

1. Venom disaster Bhopal

The venom in Bhopal is known as one of the biggest industrial disaster ever. In Bhopal, India, in 1984, 40 tonnes of methyl isocyanate (MIC) were released from a Union Carbide pesticide factory. This event led to at least 50,000 victims with serious illnesses. In addition, the well-being of between 150,000 and possibly 600,000 was compromised, of which 6,000 later died as the consequence of the exposure. Thirty years after date (2014), malformed children are still born as a result of the disaster.

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Critical loneliness

Are you never lonely?
That’s hard to believe: many people are lonely and often do not dare to share that with their surroundings. There are the more obvious cases such as neglected children, widows or divorced people, those with mental disorders or those who are ignored by their physical ‘shortcomings’. Others are overworked or do not feel support from the people around them. And many of us are literally consumed by our crazy society in which you try to keep up with the Johnson’s. Make money, performance, status, school pressure etc., we all know it.

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Critical Mass in Networks Part I: Theory

Part I: GOAL

1.1 Vision: Critical Mass

‘Today’s organizational and societal challenges are too big to be addressed by heroic leaders alone. A more contemporary understanding of leadership as a shared process is needed. Collective leadership occurs when mobilized masses achieve exponential results through their connections. If leaders, organizations, partnerships, cross-sector alliances, NGOs, community-based organizations, and grassroots movements are going to leverage the potential they have for impact, then they must understand the power of informal networks.’ (Center for Creative Leadership, 2014).
Social organizations can reach a critical mass and grow into a powerful social movement. Critical mass is the explosive attraction of fans around an existing coalition of organizations. The associated openness and the large number of new participants can transform into an explosive movement that produces significant results. Picture 1 shows a power-law distribution, which is especially triggered in social systems where many people express their dissatisfaction about many causes (Shirky, C. 2003). Of course, success is no guarantee, without any form of leadership, chaos will arise with possible far-reaching disadvantages such as violence (what we see in many revolutions).
Pic 1: reaching critical mass (Theory of Disruptive Innovation, C. Christensen, 2006)

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Critical Mass in Networks: part II Practice

PART II: Network Management

• 2.1 Focus

– Vision:  Focus is made out of purposive and adaptive network movements towards an envisioned end state. Accordingly successful focus has two important properties: 1) goal directedness, and 2) adaptability (to remain directed to the goal).‘A network energized by a goal has a purpose that enables it to organize its members, facilitate meetings and pursue resources’ (Kilduff and Tsai, 2003). ‘On the question of goals, research shows the wisdom of maintaining a narrow focus, and a single goal. Organizations pursuing a single goal are far more successful than those pursuing many goals.’ (Dobson, C., 2001).

-Frame alignment: ‘Frame alignment describes what happens in small informal groups that promote social change. Movement supporters attempt to bring others around to a mobilizing frame by providing examples and rationales that legitimize the movement. If others buy the examples and rationale, they adjust their view of issues and events so they are aligned with the new mobilizing frame’ (Dobson, C., 2001).

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Critical Mass in Networks: part III cases


Appendix I: The Occupy Wallstreet Case

Months before the Occupy movement began, the Spanish Movimiento 15-M (initiator), begun demonstrating on May 15th against the economic crises ;close to the local and regional elections of May 22th. They planned to hold events in many nations on October 15, 2011 (reaching in a world-wide critical mass).


July 13th – Adbusters makes the initial proposal for a peaceful demonstration to Occupy Wall Street (OWS).

August 2nd – ‘New Yorkers Against Budget Cuts’ chose August 2 to incorporate a ‘General Assembly’ with another group holding a strategy session for OWS. Afterwards, these two groups ‘gather[ed] into working groups to plan for the September 17 event’.

August 23th – The hacktivist group Anonymous encourages its’ followers to take part in the protest.

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