9 Levels Value System

Type of record:
  • Reflection tool
  • Tool
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Ideal innovation phases for this method:
  1. Innovation Phase
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. 5
  7. 6
  8. 7
  9. 8
  10. 9
  11. 10


9 Levels of Value Systems is a model for describing the development of value systems in individuals, groups and organizations. This allows a better understanding of the corporate culture and, above all, of any need for change.

Particularly when it comes to the development of the innovation culture, the model is well suited to fathom the current value system and to grasp which changes are necessary and also possible.

The 9 Levels Model is a value metamodel, a development model for personality development and the evolution of organizations and cultures. The classic application is the completion of a questionnaire that analyses the individual view of the values of the organization, a team or an individual.

Why are values important?
Values are the constitutive elements of culture. They define meaning and meaning within a social system (group, society, etc.). A value imparted by culture serves man as a "guideline" for understanding or knowledge of the world and consequently becomes a premise in the planning of behaviour. In this respect, the same applies to the question of how innovation processes are accepted.

Here is an overview of the 9 levels:

Level 1: BEIGE
The "Beige" level, from which all levels start, is characterized by the individual's strong ability to adapt to the environment in order to survive. In the business context this does not actually occur.

2nd level: PURPURE
Social structures with a strong distribution of roles and community-oriented rituals are formed, problems are encountered together, but always led by a leader to whom one subordinates oneself. Purple structures can be found in patriarchal family businesses, where it is clear "who wears the trousers".

3rd level: RED
The individual regains more prominence and is characterized by independence, assertiveness and striving for power. For example, new markets are conquered and positions achieved are secured. Red companies have strong hierarchies and decisions are made from above.

Level 4: BLUE
Blue companies are characterised by jointly oriented structures with values such as security, order, justice and loyalty. The individual has his or her area of responsibility in the functional hierarchy with clearly defined rules and fits loyally into the structure of the whole. Self-responsibility at this level means that everyone makes well thought-out, company-oriented decisions within their area of responsibility and the limits and rules that have been set. Hierarchies remain, become broader and more functional, and there are usually structures with a strong division of labour. Blue in colour are classically functional companies, large administrative apparatuses or in some cases educational institutions.

Level 5: ORANGE
Competition and individual success, which then also serves the entire Group, are becoming more important. Rigid rules and structures are broken up, it becomes faster and more flexible, the individual measures himself more strongly against the result, keeps a close eye on his goals, but does not lose sight of others and the company either. Loyalty, however, is no longer unconditional; if greater material or personal success can be expected elsewhere, the company is changed. In orange companies, leadership based on goals is important and linear organizations with process orientation, product management and project work are emerging for the first time.

Level 6: GREEN
The group, as a heterogeneous unit, moves more into the foreground, success is understood as the result of a correct team configuration. Complementary skills are promoted and used in a targeted way, according to the motto "together we can achieve what the individual would not achieve". Hierarchies are further dissolved, cooperation is characterised by flexibilisation, appreciation and integration, with values such as tolerance, community and responsibility for others playing a major role. The focus here is on securing long-term success, growth and improving quality through a mature error culture. In reality you rarely find whole companies on this level, within an organization it is multifunctional reflected teams or project teams that move on a green level.

Level 7: YELLOW
From the yellow level onwards, a new group of levels begins, an understanding is established that all existing levels have their advantages. From this level on, people begin to take advantage of the best aspects of the previous levels and work specifically in different working models of other levels in order to achieve certain goals. Flexibility and individuality come to the fore, accompanied by values such as competence, independence, personal responsibility and innovation. Fixed structures are less important, you feel comfortable in loose networks and virtual teams. Examples for this yellow level are rare to find, think tanks or knowledge networks are sometimes developed according to this level.

8th level: TURKIS
The perspective of this level goes far beyond the actual work context, the world is seen as a global, sustainable team; this means that there is no direct competition any more, large relationships are established, the effects on others and the environment are taken into account in one's own actions, so that in the long term there is an overall benefit for all. This form of enterprise does not yet exist in reality.

Level 9: Corals
The ninth level is on the horizon, but is not yet tangible. Here we will try to cope with the problems and challenges of the turquoise level.
  • Effective for all innovation types
  • Effective for disruptive innovations
  • Effective for highly complex challenges
  • Effective for incremental innovations and improvements
  • Effective for low complex challenges
  • Effective for medium complex challenges
  • Effective for radical innovations
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