Worldviews as tools for change

The more aware we are of our basic paradigms, maps, or assumptions, and the extent to which we have been influenced by our experience, the more we can take responsibility for those paradigms, examine them, test them against reality, listen to others and be open to their perspectives, thereby getting a larger picture and a far more objective view.

Stephen Covey, in 'The 7 habits of highly effective people'

Organizational change & societal innovation

In general, working with worldviews is a powerful tool for self-reflection and value-clarification, as well as for opening up deeper conversations about differences and diversity and the power of ‘paradigm shifts’ (ie., within one’s organization).

It can be a way to improve our communications, collaborations, and strategies. And it can foster creativity and innovation: by becoming aware of the box we operate from, insight into our own worldview helps us ‘think out of the box.’

Worldviews help us understand “where we are at”. They shine light on the assumptions, attitudes, and ideas from which we approach the world. They give insight into our deeper values, motivations, and our organizational culture ~ both its potentials and its limitations.

They also help us become more attuned to others’ worldviews, potentially enhancing how we work and communicate with others.

That is, as long as we are not aware of our own worldview, we will develop strategies based on the (implicit) assumptions and values of that worldview. However, these often do not appeal to other worldviews! Including different worldview-perspectives therefore likely results in more innovative and robust strategies.

It turns out that, throughout history, the types of organizations we have invented were tied to the prevailing worldview and consciousness. Every time that we, as a species, have changed the way we think about the world, we have come up with more powerful organizations.

Frederic Laloux, in ‘Reinventing organizations’

The worldview-test as tool for transformation

Only 17 questions long, the test is short, simple, and accessible. Yet it makes you think about life in pretty fundamental ways. It also makes you aware that others perceive and understand the world in ways that are often radically differently. Simple, yet powerful.

Strikingly, in the context of organizations, often one or two worldviews are dominant. The test becomes a mirror: reflecting the organizational culture, while also displaying what’s missing. This can be a real eye-opener.

Feedback I’ve received over the years is that engaging in some form of worldview-exploration as a group ‘opens up’ the collective space. People have shared they felt it allowed for more depth, understanding, and openness ~ in their dialogues, panel discussions, and other group work.

Read some testimonials here.

From wooden board game to online test

All of this started when the University of Delft’s innovation office put a designer to work to translate my research into a “worldview-board game”, which was to be displayed at their 2014 research exhibition.

The designer made a big, beautiful, wooden board-game that people could actually ‘play’ with, using their hands and minds in unison.

Standing with the board at the exhibition myself, I observed people playing the game. It worked! People clearly enjoyed exploring these fundamental life questions, discovering their own worldview, and discussing their insights with each other.

With support of the American Institute for Cultural Evolution, a digital version was developed, and the current online worldview-test was born! By now, almost 20.000 people have taken this test.

Teachers and professors use it in their classrooms, and leadership consultants use it with their clients.

It is also being applied globally, in a rich variety of research contexts, from psychology to sustainability science, from environmental management to policy analysis.

The worldview-board-game travelled to different festivals and expositions in the Netherlands…