Article - Advanced

Scaling the Enneagram from Individual to Team and Organisational Level

By Dirk Cloete | 02 February 2018 |
article header scaling hand light

Most of us are familiar with the application of the Enneagram at the level of the individual and their relationship with others – but this powerful tool is more than just a model of personality. It also offers insights for other levels of organisational systems where multiple, complex and interwoven relationships and patterns create complex systems dynamics.

At Integrative Enneagram Solutions we believe that the Enneagram has a central role in exploring and supporting organisational health and effectiveness. We offer our experience and Enneagram toolset for application at different levels, to make sense of individual, team and organisational dynamics, including:

  • What happens when you apply the Enneagram to make sense of a team or an entire organisation’s health and effectiveness?
  • What is the relevance of the Enneagram when applied at that level of the system rather than at individual levels?
  • Can the Enneagram contribute to the resolution of complex and persistent organisation development challenges?

One tool, many applications

The unique Integrative Enneagram Questionnaire platform offers enterprise clients a single framework that links and applies across all levels of the organisational system, and offers insight into a wide range of organisation development processes. A single 40-minute questionnaire provides the data required for powerful impact across multiple interventions relating to personal leadership development, team building, culture change and engagement, to mention just a few. This integrated framework therefore reduces survey fatigue, helps managers and employees to see the links between the diverse development activities and initiatives in your organisation, and creates a shared language for leadership, learning and development.

The Enneagram is currently applied in diverse group and organisational areas, including:

  • Culture and Engagement
  • Organisational Leadership
  • Organisational Change
  • Team Development
  • Talent Management
  • Diversity training

When applying the Enneagram at team and organisational levels, it is important to remain issue-centric, leading from the issues or challenges the team or organisation are experiencing and not from the Enneagram as a framework. The nature of the challenge will determine how we apply the Enneagram as it is not a means unto itself but rather a tool for making sense and developing teams and organisations.

A new perspective on systemic Engagement

Scholars of organisational transformation often debate whether the true unit of transformation is the individual, the team, or the organisation. We believe that organisations are complex adaptive systems where these ‘levels’ of system are dynamically interlinked and function as fractals of each other. In other words, that the individuals shape the whole even as the whole shapes the individuals, in a complex dance, and that the true potential for transformation is often found in the relationships between these fractal forces and levels of system.

The Integrative Enneagram takes traditional organisation development frameworks to a deeper level, applying its models and frameworks with a deep understanding of individual motivators and drivers. By scaling elegantly between insight into individual motivators and insight into dominant organisational cultures, we offer a fresh approach to culture and engagement, with the potential for individualised strategies and development actions. With deeper insights into the ‘why’ behind displayed behaviours or resistance, true breakthrough solutions become possible at a systemic level.

Organisations have invested a great amount of time, resources and energy in building engagement in recent years, and this remains a key priority. The 2016 Deloitte Human Capital Survey [] suggests that “under the evolving social contract between employer and employee, workers become “volunteers” to be re-engaged and re-recruited each day”.

This implies that engagement is driven by a range of factors that may be more micro, individualized and localized than previous engagement frameworks allowed, giving more responsibility for engagement to the immediate manager and team. The IEQ indicates red flags and warning signs of overload, burnout and disengagement for different individuals, as well as suggestions of blind spots and opportunities for engagement at both a collective and individual level, allowing for a strategic approach to this essential challenge.

The Enneagram empowers managers, leaders and coaches with specific suggestions of effective development paths, activities, tips and strategies for each individual or group. The entire IEQ suite of products focuses not only on the ‘what’ but also offers reflections and suggestions of the ‘so what, now what?’ to move into the future. All reports and processes focus on linking individual self-awareness, group empathy and organisational alignment into a powerful and holistic force for change.

Complex challenges

Organisations and groups experience complex issues and organisational paradoxes, which create dynamic tensions between competing forces in the shared environment, such as…
Key Organisational Paradoxes
Individual identity vs Organisational culture
Individual strain vs Organisational performance expectations
Leadership style vs Team identity
The need to adapt vs The need for stability
Team culture vs Competency requirements

The Enneagram enables us to build a picture of emergent complexity in an organisational context, by considering and linking the beliefs, values and motivations of the individual, the team, the leader in the team, the team as it relates to the organisation and the organisation as it relates to customers, suppliers and other stakeholders.

The IEQ offers the opportunity to sense, analyse and dig deep into the underlying assumptions and beliefs that form the organizational DNA, and therefore the strategies and opportunities to shape, tweak and leverage that culture to maximize its potential.

Through the lens of the Enneagram one can leverage organisational change and transformation by asking questions such as:

  • What are the issues and challenges?
  • What are the dynamics at this level of the system?
  • Who is involved in exploring the system from a given perspective and what is their point of view on the world?
  • What are the boundary issues? Who / what is excluded or included when we explore the system from a given perspective?

We invite you to explore these themes further in our Organisational Applications page.