Part 3: And so it came to pass...

Senators Susan Collins (Republican) and Joe Manchin (Democrat)

Senators Susan Collins (Republican) and Joe Manchin (Democrat)

And so it came to pass

that our saviours gave us a gift of tragedy

for which we are too dumb-struck to find a melody.”

                                                                                              Funso Aiyelina

The original reason for writing this series of articles was to apply the Integral Organization Model to the very public machinations of the Trump Administration. This provided foresight into the possible futures of this administration which so far has proved accurate. As we watch this play out we can also draw parallels to our own organizations, more on this later.

After the first year of the Trump Administration we can see all the moving parts realigning themselves into a new world order. The low level of President Trump’s vertical development  (Opportunist/Power Leader) means that he is unable to provide the leadership that is required, not only for America, but also for the rest of the world.

As more and more people realise that they cannot look for leadership from President Trump they are starting to fill in the vacuum themselves.

This is what happened during the brief government shutdown when senators from both parties started meeting to put together an agreement to keep the lights on. It didn’t come from President Trump, it also didn’t come from the leadership of either party because they were stuck in a political paralysis. It came from the rank and file of Congress. If ever President Trump wanted to act presidential this was the opportunity. Over the intervening weekend he could have gathered both sides of politics into the White House and metaphorically scolded them like the school children that they were acting. Instead he joined in with the school yard name calling.

This has not gone unnoticed by the rest of the world.

As noted in the earlier posts by isolating America through; withdrawing from trade deals, the climate accord and reducing overseas aid, this has created a vacuum for nations like China and Russia to step in. China’s One Belt, One Road project along with providing aid to countries has made them the new global power. Contrast President Xi Jinping’s speech at the World Economic Forum in 2017 where he spoke about the importance of a global world to that of President Trump’s in 2018 promoting America First. There was a slight repositioning where it was explained that America First didn’t mean America Alone. What President Trump is unable to understand, due to his low level of vertical development, is that America Alone is exactly where he is leading the country.

China One Belt One Road.png

As the map above shows China’s globalization plan is linking more than two thirds of the world’s population creating a massive economic region. This doesn’t include the billions of dollars they are spending in Africa. What is missing from this map, the country that is standing alone, is America. Trains are now delivering goods from the east coast of China to Europe and on to London in fifteen days. About the same time that the fastest cargo ship takes to travel to the USA.

The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) of twelve countries, that has an objective of countering China’s expansion, is now moving forward but without the USA. This was led by two of America’s strong allies, Australia and Japan. In fact, the meeting to agree on continuing the TPP without America was held at a conference in the days after President Trump visited Japan, with President Trump at the same conference. As the NAFTA re-negotiations drag on both Canada and Mexico have signed up to the TPP.

France are encouraging climate change scientists to come and work there. Canada, Australia and many other countries see the current times as an opportunity to reverse the brain drain. The message is that as smart, educated, immigrants you will be welcomed in our countries.

South Korea are holding talks with North Korea. A strong incentive for South Korea to ignore President Trumps fire and fury negotiation approach is that if war does break out it is their country that will be attacked, not America.

Why is this happening?

President Trump published his negotiation book, “The Art of the Deal” in 1987. In 1981, the late Richard Fisher (professor at Harvard Law School) co-authored the negotiation book, “Getting to Yes, Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In”, with a follow up book in 1988, “Getting Together, Building Relationships As We Negotiate”. A key concept that Fisher puts forward is the BATNA, Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement. This is not the bottom line or walk away position. This is the brainstorming of better alternatives than having to accept the terms being offered by the counterparty. The TPP without America, China’s One Belt, One Road initiative, China’s Aid funding, France opening the doors to scientists are all examples of BATNAs. When we fail to understand the value of our counterparty’s BATNA we end up alone.

But wait, here is another scary thought.

Can we take these same observations and apply them to our own organization? Are there awkward parallels inside our organisation to the dysfunctional partisan politics that lead to a government shutdown, the decision making along political/departmental lines, the entrenched internal positions and the brinkmanship. Maybe what happens in our organization is not as overt, that is less use of twitter. But when we reflect on our budget allocation process, workforce allocations, slow decision making, internal politics on who is at fault for non-delivery, there are definitely common themes here.

The lesson here is that the chief executive officer’s vertical development level becomes the lowest common denominator of the organization’s operating model. If this is at a low level that is as good as it gets! Over time this will drive out executives and middle management that are operating at a higher vertical development level. They will exercise their BATNAs and say, “this is not worth it, I am going to work where people want t use my skills”. That is because when people use higher order reasoning to explain what needs to be done their CEO’s won’t understand. In the Trump administration we are seeing this with people leaving not only from the White House staff but also members of congress not standing for re-election and employees of departments like the FBI and Department of Justice who have come under attack from the Opportunist/Power Leader.

For those that stay the way to move forward is to work across the organization in the middle ranks. When the American government was shut down President Trump didn’t step in and call all parties together. It was left to twenty senators from both parties, led by Republican Susan Collins and Democrat Joe Manchin, to meet together and work out a solution which was mutually acceptable. When we find ourselves in the same situation inside our organisation instead of looking up, we need to look across. Decisions are now made based on the Decision Equilibrium Point. Of course, this is not ideal but is too often our reality. Complete failure of leadership is when the people stop looking up and take matters into their own hands. We saw this with the Arab Spring and we may see it with groups of people across America such as; the women's march, NFL players kneeling and school children banding together to protest against gun violence.

The answer, as found by Jim Collins in “Good to Great” and Elliot Jaques in “Requisite Organization”, starts with the Chief Executive Office of the country, company or organization having the required vertical development level in order to lead their people to success. Anything less leads to mediocrity which is the path America are currently on.

During the next year the mid-term elections will only exacerbate everything we have witnessed to date. This will be the time for President Trump’s leadership to shine; to lead everyone through the politics, in-fighting, brinkmanship and dysfunctional behaviour. Unfortunately, with the vertical development level of the Opportunist/Power Leader, he can’t.

What is Vertical Development?

Jim Collins described levels of leaders in his book Good to Great. He found that the critical success factor for an organization is that the CEO must be at Level 5 of vertical development. This aligns to the academic research of Elliot Jaques, William Torbert, Kurt Fisher and more. To explain this Collins used the story of the Window and the Mirror to explain the difference between a Level 5 versus the comparison (Opportunist/Power) leaders;

Level 5 leaders look out the window to apportion credit to factors outside themselves when things go well (and if they cannot find a specific person or event to give credit to, they credit good luck). At the same time, they look in the mirror to apportion responsibility, never blaming bad luck when things go poorly. The comparison leaders did just the opposite. They’d look out the window for something or someone outside themselves to blame for poor results, but would preen in front of the mirror and credit themselves when things went well” Jim Collins, Good to Great.

As people observe President Trump’s behavior they are starting to question President Trump’s mental stability. This is a misplaced diagnosis. What people are perceiving is the disconnect between their observations of President Trump’s behavior and their own worldview of how the President of the United States of America should act. The disconnect comes from a misunderstanding of vertical development. That is, the fact that we all develop to various levels of vertical development given three factors; potential, time and opportunity. President Trump has developed only to a lower level of vertical development which is being characterized as mental instability.

The description of President Trump as a Power Leader comes from the large body of work on vertical development of people which is wonderfully summarized by Tony Zampella in his piece; “Trump’s Leadership Mindset: Is it Presidential?” Zampella explains how President Trump is operating at the Opportunist Level (what I have called Power Leader) and backs up his claim from the academic research. He concludes that President Trump is not acting “Presidential” as he summarises;

“Opportunist is the only mindset that falls outside presidential expectations and attributes “befitting the dignity and character of the presidency.” Its impulsive and juvenile nature in circumventing accountability is not a match for the immense responsibility of the office. Typically, nascent, emerging leaders outgrow this mindset. Most are challenged, or held accountable, by family, peers, and colleagues, and learn from mistakes.

Adult leaders remaining at the Opportunist stage, often surround themselves with those at later mindsets (conformist-diplomatic or expert) – like military generals, and former CEOs – to bring order and consistency to an enterprise.

Without the willingness to learn and grow from continued questioning, no amount of knowledge, procedure, study, or policy can account for, or alter, the power of mindset, which governs attitude, affect, and focus.” Zampella

The key point is in the final paragraph of Zampella’s summary. That is, President Trump will not learn, grow or change. If at his age he hasn’t progressed passed his current level of vertical development of Opportunist/Power Leader, it is highly unlikely that he ever will.

Given this, the mid-term elections and the realignment of the global players the end result is that the dysfunction we have observed in the first year of the Trump Administration will only get worse.

As always stay tuned!

Part 2: And We're Off...

It’s official Donald Trump is now President Trump. While it is only the first week we can look at how the structure and dynamics of Organization USA are shaping up and the impact on President Trump’s administration.

A key element of the Integral Organization Model is an organization’s structure and the dynamics that play up, down and across the layers. We can look at how this operates for Organization USA in relation to Vertical Leverage which creates scale to execute and Horizontal Flow which creates alignment to vision, mission and strategy.

Recapping the use of the Integral Organization Model:

In the first post below we explained how the Integral Organization Model can be adapted to look at President Trump’s administration.

“By consolidating leadership, behavioral, organization and cultural models the Integral Organization Model provides a forecast into the dynamics of Trump’s Administration to predict possible future outcomes. Although the Integral Organization Model was not created with the USA Government in mind, it does have application to project what futures we may see. More details of the model can be found at “What is a Perfect Organization?” and The Integral Organization Manifesto.”

One of the biggest challenges for any leader is to have all the people in the organization execute their tasks aligned to the organization’s vision, mission and strategy. This is even more challenging for President Trump because the layers of Organization USA are not like that in a company, they can and do act independently to the office of the President. What starts off as the vision, mission and strategy at the top can quickly change if the layers are not all in sync and agreement.

As an aside, many CEOs don’t realize that even in their companies the layers are more independent than they believe.

To look at the dynamics of Organization USA let’s start with a simple diagram of the layers.

USA Organization Hierarchy.png


President Trump has direct management capability of the Cabinet. He can make the appointments, assuming they are ratified by Congress, and he can fire them. The Cabinet members are there to create the nested visions, missions and strategies for their respective departments. They translate the overall vision to “Make America Great Again” into the related vision and mission statements down the layers. They work closely with the President’s office to ensure alignment of thinking and actions.

When it comes to the Congress, State and Local Government, President Trump has no direct management control over these layers. The Republican representatives in these layers of government are expected to align with the Republican President but there is no guarantee. President Trump needs their support to have the layers below himself and his Cabinet implement actions aligned to their strategy.

However, at the State and Local Government layers we are already witnessing Democratic Governors and Mayors declaring that they will not cooperate with any changes they don’t agree with. Oxfam’s blog author, Duncan Green, writes how there is more power at these levels than we would first suspect.

The bottom layer is the American people. Here President Trump has no management control at all. We may think of the American People as the customers of the government. But a critical addition to being customers is that the American People are also the board. That is, they select the President, Congress, State and Local government officials.

Imagine if you are the CEO of a company and every two years your employees can vote your middle management layers in, or out, and every four years yourself? During the intervening years to be successful you must have everyone engaged, working at 100% of their intellectual and physical capabilities aligned to the company’s vision, mission and strategy. If you don’t then they check out, or worse start working against you. Imagine if you found on the web a countdown clock to the day you could be removed.

This is the case with Organization USA and it sets up interesting choices for all concerned.

In two years, there will be the mid-term elections which includes;

  • all 435 seats of the House of Representatives,
  • 33 or 34 of the 100 seats in the Senate,
  • 36 State Governors and many Mayors.

If you are part of this middle management group of Congress, State and Local Government you sit in-between two masters. The President and the People. The question these elected officials will need to answer, long before the mid-term elections, is does it matter to whom they align themselves and if it so which one?

The Integral Organization Model stresses the need for alignment both vertically and horizontally within an organization. This is even more important for President Trump because of the lack of control up and down the layers.

The first way to achieve alignment is for President Trump to form a strong working relationship with Congress. The aim here is to have the Congress support President Trump’s administration no matter what happens.

President Trump’s approach so far has been to criticize Congress, as per his comments in the inaugural speech;

“For too long a small group in our nation's capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered but the jobs left and the factories closed. The establishment protected itself but not the citizens of our country.”

While at the same time he is holding meetings with Congress to build support. After a recent meeting with Congress President Trump described it as a “beautiful, beautiful relationship”.

Whether Congress holds the same view is yet to be seen.

The other way to gain the support of the Congress, State and Local Government officials is to have the American people show their support for what President Trump is doing. In this case the politicians may not like what President Trump is doing but will need his blessing to bolster their re-election chances.

But there is a slight problem here, what if President Trump is not delivering what the majority of people want. The dynamics at play are best described using a systems dynamics diagram as per below;


 President Trump Voters

President Trump needs to deliver on his promises to continue to have the support of the American People who voted for him. However, if he doesn’t deliver on his promises that will decrease their level of support.

The amount of Executive Orders being signed demonstrate a willingness by President Trump to act. But is he confusing “activity” with “progress”. With so many actions there is an increased chance of unintended consequences.

In Freakonomics, authors Levitt and Dubner show that an unintended consequence of Roe vs Wade was that the crime rate went down;

“There are more correlations, positive and negative, that shore up the abortion-crime link. In states with high abortion rates, the entire decline in crime was among the post-Roe cohort as opposed to older criminals. Also, studies in Australia and Canada have since established a similar link between legalized abortion and crime.”

If an import tax for Mexican goods is implemented to pay for The Wall, who ends up paying the Tax? The companies that are doing the importing or the people who buy the goods through increased prices. If the companies are compensated by lowering their export duties who benefits from that, overseas customers?

If The Wall works in reducing crime through a set of intended consequences, does repealing Roe vs Wade counter balance the reduction through a set of unintended consequences.

Do the people who voted for President Trump see any of these outcomes in the short term, before the mid-term elections?

Non-President Trump Voters

If President Trump delivers on his promises we don’t know the response of this group of voters. If achieved, does creating more jobs, improved infrastructure and increased standard of living win some of these votes over? Or does President Trump’s actions on healthcare, pro-life, climate change and immigrants push these voters further away.

Does his “power leader” style of signing Executive Orders stiffen the resolve of the non-President Trump voters to make sure the makeup of the Congress changes to stop his actions.


We also don’t know what this group of voters will do in response to President Trump’s actions. However, if they disagree with President Trump’s actions they will be more motivated to vote this time, against him, in the upcoming mid-term elections.

A glimpse of what will unfold occurred through two significant events in the first two days of President Trump’s presidency.

The Inauguration

The first was the Inauguration. The major talking point to come out of the Inauguration was a dispute over the reported size of the crowd. Was this because a power leader needs this form of affirmation or was it because President Trump’s administration is aware of the importance of having the American People’s support. Does the same reasoning hold true to explain why President Trump is ordering an investigation into claimed illegal voting of up to five million people? Where all of these people supposedly didn’t vote for President Trump and if found to be true would mean that he won the popular vote.

Out of this discussion came the phrase, “alternative facts”. We are now discussing “facts” and “alternative facts” as the battle for who has the most support rages.

The Women’s March

While the discussion of inaugural crowd size was happening the second event occurred which was the Women’s March. A clear message that came out of the Women’s March was that there are many American People who do not want what President Trump is promising to deliver. Many that were interviewed referred to the mid-term elections as their first opportunity to be heard.

President Trump tweeted his view of the Women’s March;

“Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election! Why didn't these people vote? Celebs hurt cause badly.”


“Peaceful protests are a hallmark of our democracy. Even if I don't always agree, I recognize the rights of people to express their views.”

For President Trump, he clearly believes that his vision, mission and strategy is on the right path and that he doesn’t agree with what the people participating in the Women’s March want. He believes that he has the support of the majority as he mentions in his inaugural speech;

“You came by the tens of millions to become part of a historic movement the likes of which the world has never seen before.”

But do the elected officials of Congress, State and Local Government share the same view?

It is no longer about last year’s election, that is done and dusted. It is now about the mid-term elections and the race is on. There is no Electoral College affect and outside of any gerrymander impact, it will be a based upon who the people vote for, State by State and City by City. Voter turnout is typically lower for these elections so it may come down to who is more motivated, the President Trump voters, voting again, or the Non-President Trump voters wanting to restore a balance of views.

If the momentum swings the other way and if, as President Trump is urging, the people in the Women’s March who did and didn’t vote, vote, support from all the layers may be lost.

The middle management layer of politicians must decide which master to follow and the clock is ticking.

 To respond to President Trump’s New Year’s tweet;

“Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don't know what to do. Love!”

The message from the Women’s March is that they do know what to do and it is called the mid-term elections.

A final word is that the losers in all of this may be the people in the most need. Whether we agree or disagree with the Electoral College system it served its purpose. It gave a voice to the people who feel they are being left behind. However, if the American People become more divided the people in the most need may once again become forgotten.

The Integral Organization Model suggests a different approach and if President Trump was to seek advice he could begin with “Where to Start”.

As always stay tuned!

Part 1: President Trump - What happens next?

Donald Trump has been elected the 45th President of the United States of America. It was an unorthodox and, for most, an unexpected victory. Given that Donald Trump is an unusual choice for President Elect, everyone is wondering what happens next?  

The Integral Organization Model can shed light on this very topical, very frequently asked question.

By consolidating leadership, behavioral, organization and cultural models the Integral Organization Model provides a forecast into the dynamics of Trump’s Administration to predict possible future outcomes. Although the Integral Organization Model was not created with the USA Government in mind, it does have application to project what futures we may see. More details of the model can be found at “What is a Perfect Organization?” and at The Integral Organization Manifesto.

The futures predicted by the Integral Organization Model for the Trump administration do not make for encouraging reading. First we look at how Trump’s leadership, mission, organization and colleagues will play out per the Integral Organization Model. From this we can look at the possible futures we will see.


  • Trump’s development level of leadership is at the Power stage. This is the, “take action” for the “here and now”. This uses short timeframe thinking reducing all issues into their simplest form, neglecting the more complex “there and then” futures thinking.
  • We can infer that Trump’s mode is at the power level through his use of the “I” pronoun; “I am very, very rich”, “I am going to make America great again”, “I know more than the Generals”, I am going to build a wall”, “I will go it alone if I have to”. It also shows in his respect for other powerful leaders like Vladimir Putin.
  • Power leaders centralize control and decision making and Trump will want to act as the decisive, decision making leader.
  • A decision is not a decision until the power leader say so and even then, due to short-term thinking, can easily be reversed because their decisions are based on short term symptoms rather than longer term underlying causes.
  • Power leadership demands loyalty where the supporters are rewarded and those perceived as against them are punished. This makes it difficult for open debate and alternative views to be aired.


  • The organization under a power leader becomes hierarchical.
  • Decisions are passed up the line of command for approval. This moves the Decision Equilibrium Point higher in the structure, slowing down decision making.
  • Hierarchical structures reduce the organization’s Vertical Leverage.
  • Short term results are demanded and failure is not tolerated. This leads to less risk taking and more self-protectionism.
  • The vertical silo walls become solidified as each department narrowly focuses on its role to ensure they deliver short term results.
  • Collaboration across departments becomes difficult, Horizontal Flow is lost as everyone falls victim to the Prisoner’s Dilemma. This especially plays out in budget negotiations across departments.

Mission Statements

  • The declared mission statement is to, “make America great again” with the tactic to “put America first”.
  • This excludes any thought of the broader mission statement; “let’s make the World great again”. This exclusion creates an “us versus the rest of the world” approach which is consistent with power leadership thinking.
  •  Getting the mission statement right is critical to create an effective organization.
  • The mission statement, “Making America great again”, doesn’t provide guidance on how to achieve this outcome, it is like, “let’s make more revenue”. It also needs nested sub-mission statements that provide guidance within the departments.
  • This lack of guidance, with short term pressure, leaves the departments anchored to the past and not looking at future possibilities. We see this play out in how start-ups disrupt the established firms in, “What makes a start-up successful?

Supporters/Cabinet Members/Employees

  • How did Donald Trump become elected the 45th President?
  • When we are hurting, when we have dropped to the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs; survival and security, we look for a power leader to fight for us.
  • This was brilliantly written about by Robb Smith in his piece “The Morning After” highlighting the disconnect between the Globalists and the Tribalists.
  • It is also why we hire the wrong leaders.
  • The Cabinet team will include people with similar thinking to Trump’s power approach.
  • We will see a high level of turn over within the Cabinet members.
  • When the tactic is to “put America first”, the position of Secretary of State will be a difficult role to perform as it sits between America and the rest of the World.
  • If the power leader makes things worse for us and not better, we will seek a safer leader, one who is trusted and offers us a familiar “true way” that we can believe in.

Possible Futures

  • Decision making will be slower than expected and susceptible to constant changes due to a lack of a clear mission statement structure and longer term thinking.
  • Without Vertical Leverage, Trump will fall victim to Ross Ashby’s law of requisite variety: “only variety can destroy variety”. That is, the complexity of running America will end up in the Oval office if Trump insists on approving most decisions.
  • The Trump Administration will be internally focused, working on executing their roles in a vertical siloed structure.
  • For self-protection, transparency will disappear as people in America and the World play their cards closer to their chest.
  • The Trump administration’s internal focus, combined with the lack of external transparency, will make it difficult to get the balance right in making policies and decisions.
  • Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” will be active capitalising on opportunities that arise from ill-informed policies or decisions.
  • Other unintended consequences will arise due to power leaders not understanding Systems Thinking and as the father of Systems Thinking, Jay Forrester, explains;

“time after time I’ve done an analysis of a company, and I’ve figured out a leverage point…  …then I’ve gone to the company and discovered that there’s already a lot of attention to that point. Everyone is trying very hard to push it in the wrong direction!”

  • Unintended consequences like foreign countries and people protecting themselves against “putting America first” will be misunderstood and labelled as conspiracies.
  • The space on the world stage vacated by America will be filled by countries like China and Russia.
  • One of the biggest issues facing America is the division of opinion amongst its people, leading to major issues when implementing new policies. This will not ease under Trump who will look for simple, short term fixes to the problem like, “people just need to know me better”.
  • This division will show up in people’s reaction to this post.
  • Trump will grow tired of the demands of being President. In a democracy, the President works for the people and not the other way around.
  • Trump will not run for a second term.

Only time will tell what will happen with Trump’s presidency. Because the Presidency role is very public we have a unique opportunity to follow an organization, the American Government; its leadership, culture and decision making, and compare this against the research and models that are consolidated in The Integral Organization Model.

Stay tuned!