Another facet of Center for Self-Organizing Leadership addresses ways of improving the sustainability of organizations. Dick Knowles’ work introduces six new, fundamental ratios that organizations and leaders of organizations can use to address their sustainability issues and to qualitatively measure their progress towards greater sustainability.

Following is an excerpt  from The Leadership Dance that briefly describes the Six Sustainability Ratios

Organizations behave as if they are living systems. All living systems can be characterized by their patterns, processes and structures. The patterns are like our DNA, the processes are like our digestion and the structures are like our bodies, the visible manifestations of these inner patterns and processes. The most healthy and sustainable systems have high levels of communication and coherence among all their patterns, processes and structures. The deep patterns in organizations are manifest in six ways;

  1. The way the people form their structures
  2. The way people see themselves and their relation to needs of the whole
  3. The way they sense their environment and select those pressures and changes they think are most important
  4. The way they decide on how to respond to the changes and how they intend to impact their environment
  5. The way they learn and their ability and willingness to adapt
  6. The way they are open to and act on future potentials and possibilities

These manifestations can be set up in the form of Six Sustainability Ratios where the numerator of each ratio leads towards more sustainability and the denominator leads towards less sustainability.



A Discussion of Systematics, by Dick Knowles

Systematics is a conceptural approach and method that Bennett, a student of Gurdjieff, developed. It seeks to understand the world by investigating the underlying patterns revealed by looking at systems from a variety of perspectives.

Put very simply, this is the idea that we can identify significant qualitative distinctions that are intrinsically associated with different numbers and the systems represented by those numbers. He called these numbers “terms,” and developed a series of tools that use an ever-increasing number of terms to look more and more deeply into the issues of life. This provides a profound way to see and to understand our world.

The one-term system, for instance, he called the monad. In the monad we try to get very clear on what it is we’re talking about. If we think of the world as a blank sheet of paper, for example, and then draw a circle on the paper, we can ask what’s inside the circle and what’s outside of it. This is the work of the monad. By using this approach to address a particular subject, we come to a better understanding of it.

As we talk about what is inside and what is outside of the monad, we encounter either/or questions about polarity and tension. We can see these as two-term systems he called dyads. True dyads, like male/female, are unresolvable, and we must learn to live and work in their paradox and ambiguity. To do this easily, we need to view what we are doing from a different perspective, so we move to the three-term system called the triad.

In the triad, Bennett points out that there is a dynamic struggle we must engage in to find reciprocity, difference and reconciliation. Bennett believed that without this struggle, no real change could be made in the world. It’s in our exploration of the triad that we can learn to live and work together, even though there are unresolved dyads.

When we begin to ask ourselves about what’s really happening in a particular situation, we must move into looking at the purposeful activity needed to address the problem facing us. To do this we move to the tetrad.

These first four systems help us to clarify our thinking and our activities. When we begin to ask about the significance and potentiality of what we are doing, we come to the five-term system called the pentad. For meaning to emerge, our work needs to be more than just an end in itself.

When we move to making our thinking and activities more concrete and to identify the field of action for our work, we move to the six-term system called the hexad. This is where the potential of what we’re talking about comes into reality. There are higher term systems such as the heptad, octad and so forth that are even more complex, but they are beyond the scope of my work The Leadership Dance.

In an enneagram, each point can be explored more deeply using any one of or all of the Systems to do this. Each point of the enneagram we can be explored more deeply using enneagrams focused more narrowly on the particular topic. The use of the enneagram this way is fractal; we can find enneagrams “all the way down.” We can also say it’s monads and dyads, etc. all the way down.

The way I’ve chosen to look at each point on the enneagram is to identify points 1, 2, 4, 5, 7 and 8 with the monad, dyad, triad, tetrad, pentad and hexad respectively. I then go on to relate these systems to Identity, Intention, Issues, Principles and Standards, Work, Learning and Structure and Context, respectively.

John Bennett (Deeper Man, Charlestown, WV. Claymont Communications, available from, describes point 0 as being related to functioning in our physical world which I relate to our Identity. He describes point 3 as being related to our state of being ( our state of availability or energy) which I relate to our visible behavior in Relationship. He describes point 6 as our will, that which decides our actions. This point I relate to Information for on the basis of this we can decide to act. Bennett goes much more deeply into these than I do using Identity, Relationship and Information.

In doing this, I developed the Process Enneagram© as an integrated progression of systems that brings great clarity to our work in organizations and enables us to engage in and to make real change in our world.



The third major process within Center for Self-Organizing Leadership is from Dick Knowles’ work on The Emergence Of Meaning and the Will to Act©. This deals with the deep sources of energy that exist within all organizations.