Process Enneagram©

This is a process and map for engagement to help organizations to understand how they work and can change. It is a map that enables the people in the organization to make meaningful, effective changes in how they operate. This map is a co-created guide that never fails in leading the people to the future they really want. It is best used to work on complex problems.

These are sometimes called wicked problems.


All living systems obey a natural, pervasive tendency to “self-organize.” Nature displays this phenomenon at all levels of scale, from tiny bacteria to large ecosystems. A system is loosely defined here as a collection of similar things, a group. Since these things are similar in some way, when endowed with even a rudimentary consciousness, a system develops a kind of shared identity that defines its boundary.

People experience this tendency when they gather to talk, work, play. This phenomenon is so pervasive and subtle that it’s usually unnoticed. Yet it is happening all the time. People incessantly self-organize around anything that holds importance to them.

While powerful, it is also subtle, like the current in a flowing river. Often people join the flow and engage purposefully with this tendency in their countless conversations, in informal gatherings like family reunions, or in high performance work teams.

Many of us who have been managers have often tried to impose our will on people through a command and control approach, when we have a specific task to do or a goal to reach. This is non-purposeful engagement with the natural tendency of self-organization. As we strive to complete the task or job or reach the goal, we contact this tendency to self-organize. Using the command and control approach is like trying to remove the twists and turns from a river and forcing it to flow the way we want. Self-organization exists in organizations of all sorts all the time.

Much of the vast literature on management and leadership deals with ways to impose one’s will on this tendency to self-organize to accomplish necessary objectives. Most managers crave stability, reliability, predictability and control in their organizations. While requiring qualities like these is essential for machines like an airplane, this approach suppresses the purposeful vitality, energy and creativity when managers apply it to people in organizations. When it is pushed too far, the imposition of one’s will becomes command and control management. In this imposing-mode of management and leadership, people in the organizations self-organize in ways that the organization views as non-purposeful. People become lethargic, unresponsive and resistant to change. Such organizations behave as if they are mechanisms that must be pushed and shoved to make happen the things that management actually wants to occur. These organizations behave as if they are unhealthy living systems: torpid and passive. This leadership style breeds frustration due to disappointing results, the effort required to keep the business moving, the lack of sustainability, and the negative, self-organizing behaviors that people pursue.

When the principles of Self-Organizing Leadership are used, everything changes. The organization becomes vital, energetic and healthy. Excitement grows as people co-create their future and resistance to change almost disappears.

In using the Process Enneagram© to discuss complex problems, people co-create their future. Keeping the Process Enneagram map they have created posted before them, the people have a living, strategic plan to guide them into the future.

The basic principles of Self-Organizing Leadership are sharing information, building relationships of trust and interdependence and helping people to see how they fit into the whole picture and are important to the success of the organization.

The Process Enneagram© is the only process and map of engagement we know of that helps people to solve complex problems, build the social connections they’ll need to do the work and release the emotional energy and commitment to do the work quickly and well.