Contents of this Section

The four basic dimensions of every holon in general and applied to the Integral Agile Coach, the Integral Agile Team and the Integral Agile Company.

Short Version

Every holon has and can be looked at from four views. We call these quadrants. The I, the We, the It and the Its. These cannot be ultimately separated from each other and all of them need to be taken into account.

Main Version

Holons posses a subjectively experienced interior as well as an objectively measurable exterior. Visually, we might draw a horizontal line on a sheet of paper to distinguish between these two domains.
So far, we have also seen that holons are at the same time wholes and parts of another whole. In other words, they are both individuals and part of a collective. We might draw a horizontal line through our vertical line and we end up with four quadrants. The Upper Left is the individual subjective, the Lower Left the collective subjective, the Upper Right the individual objective and the Lower Right the collective objective. The left hand quadrants require interpretation, because they are intangible. The right hand quadrants are based on observable facts and can be objectively measured and studied.

Let’s start with a quick overview of what each of these quadrants actually is.

Upper Left - individual subjective: The I. Intentional. Emotions, subjectivity, personal values, motivation, intention, consciousness.
Questions: Who am I? What do I feel? What do I value?
Science: Psychology, contemplative religions

Lower Left - collective subjective: The We. Cultural. Shared values, language, “The way we do things around here”, interactions and communication, collective consciousness.
Questions: Who are we? What do we feel? What do we value? How do we communicate?
Science: Cultural studies

Upper Right - individual objective: The It. Behavioral. Exteriors, organism, behavior, empiricism, statistics.
Questions: What does it do? What does it look like? Where is it? How much?
Science: “Hard science”, scientific method, Behaviorism, Physics, Chemistry, Biology

Lower Right - collective objective: The Its. Social. Interobjectivity, social systems, laws, ecosystems, economy.
Questions: How do these objects interact? What does this system look like?
Science: Social studies, Ecology, Systems Theory

These are the four Quadrants of the AQAL model of Integral Theory and just knowing about them and using them in our daily work would give us an impressive amount of material for change.
Throughout this website, we propose that these are the basic four dimensions of every holon. One thing to keep in mind though: they are all equally important and have to be honored in the same way. In our opinion, there’s no singular without plural and no interior without exterior in the realm of conditioned existence. Most people tend to emphasize one or two quadrants and neglect the others or even try to cram all the other quadrants into one.

The Integral Agile Quadrants

If we take the four quadrants and apply them to ourselves as Agile Coaches, Agile Team Members etc., what does that actually imply?

The Integral Agile Coach

First of all, if you work as an Agile Coach and you are leading an Agile change initiative, you simply have to address all four quadrants of the holon you are trying to develop. As good Agile Coaches, however, we will start with ourselves and apply the four quadrants to our own being. You yourself need to change in order to become good at this. As this website grows, we will explore what this truly means and how each of the quadrants relate to you and your work as an Integral Agile Coach. But for now, we will just look at a short introduction and a set of questions which will help you understand the quadrants. We will give guidance and further explanations for these questions in the future. For now, try answering them for yourself and see where they lead you.

The Upper Left Quadrant
The Upper Left or I quadrant is associated with your own subjective being. Your consciousness, your values, your emotions. For now, consider these questions:
Are you truly aware of your own value structure? Can you communicate it to others? Do you have a feeling for how it influences your reactions toward other people?
In day to day life, are you aware of your emotional state? Can you communicate when you are stressed or agitated so others can accurately interpret your reactions?
Do you know what truly motivates you and do you strive to be in that motivational zone throughout the day so you can be of service to others while enjoying your work and life?
Do you know what your purpose is? Can you stand firmly grounded in your purpose and stay there in the midst of turbulence and adversity?

Lower Left Quadrant
The Lower Left quadrant is all about the interaction of subjects in teams and communities for example.
Consider your cultural background for example. How do you think it affects you and your interactions with others? What do you know about the cultural background of your coworkers?
What kind of language do you use in interaction with others? Are you attuned to the language of those around you?
What are the shared values of those around you? Would it make sense to point them out and maybe change them?

Upper Right Quadrant
The Upper Right quadrant is the behavioral, objective quadrant. Everything that is objectively visible, measurable and observable happens here.
How do other people perceive you? What does your body look like? How do you move? How do you visibly communicate?
What is your behavior like? Are you a calm, organized person or are you unreliable and erratic? Did you know that behaving a certain way can have an effect on your consciousness?
What are your skills? Do you actively grow in your profession?
Could you do more for your health?

Lower Right Quadrant
The Lower Left quadrant includes all inter-objective, social and technological interaction.
What processes are you involved in at your company?
Are the structures of your company right for you or do they hinder your progress?
Do you live in an environment which is beneficial to you?
Do you actively contribute to a social cause?

The Integral Agile Team

Please note that there is a difference between individual holons (you as a person, for example) and social holons (such as a group you are a part of). Social holons are constructed by individual holons joining together. And thus, they don’t have the upper two quadrants of individuality. For instance, there is no single consciousness of a group, but rather a shared consciousness of the group members. While team spirit does exist, there is not one single entity that directly governs every subholon (the Borg being an exception, perhaps). You cannot talk to the spirit of a team and ask it questions about its interiors. Members of social holons are generally still autonomous beings.
So instead, we say that individual holons have a dominant monad, while social holons have a predominant mode of mutual resonance.
This is a fine distinction, but an important one.
So please keep in mind that we will often look at the members of social holons for the upper quadrants of that particular holon while for individual holons we will examine the four quadrants they have.

Upper Left Quadrant
In the future, we will look at individual values of team members and how they affect the team as a whole. It is important to work with individual motivation and value systems. Do you know what motivates your team members?
Have you found a way to align their values with their work and their work with their values?
Have you asked your team members why they chose this line of work and how you can help them find meaning in what they do?
What happens when people suddenly show strong emotional reactions? Do they feel secure enough to handle situations like these?

Lower Left Quadrant
Now that you’ve taken care of the individual values, what about team values? What makes the team you are working with special?
Is it just a mutual appreciation of peanut butter sandwiches or is it the deep commitment to excellence?
Are people having fun?
Have team members created a culture in which others are singled out?
Do team members use harsh words with each other?
Do they have inside jokes?
Do they follow agile values or do they blindly stick to the process, creating Cargo Cult Agile?
What’s the relationship towards other teams and the company like?
Does the team have enough agency to assert itself and effectively remove impediments?

Upper Right Quadrant
Performance, metrics, skills and individual artifacts are all part of the upper right quadrant.
What is objectively measurable about your team?
Which metrics make sense to you and your team?
What’s the distribution of skills like between team members? If someone is on vacation or out sick, can others cover him?
Do people get all the education they need?
Is your team accumulating technical debt?

Lower Right Quadrant
Looking at the Lower Right Quadrant, we will examine environments, processes, systems and structures.
What’s the workspace for your team like? Are they colocated? Are they working in a noisy environment?
What types of business processes is your team part of? Do these processes nourish your team and make it thrive or do they hinder and obstruct it?
What does the technological environment look like?
What kind of technical practices does your team follow?

The Integral Agile Company

We are only now slowly beginning to see what truly Integral Agile Companies are going to look like. Patterns are starting to emerge, but it is too early to clearly say how Integral Agile on an enterprise level will manifest itself. So for now, we would like to raise the following questions:

Upper Left Quadrant
Does your company have a clear purpose? Does it have a reason to exist?
Do the people inside the company identify clearly with these values and goals and does the company nourishes the individuals’ values and goals?
Does your company put positive pressure (a constant invitation so to speak) on people, giving them the opportunity to grow together with others and thus allows people to change and heal on a deep personal level?
Are people in your company ready for this massive change?

Lower Left Quadrant
Does your company serve as an exceptional model for shared values?
Are freedom, commitment, fun and altogether love the very fabric of what holds your company together?
Do your shared values decide whether the company produces more of what it is good at or tries to be at the leading edge with innovative products?

Upper Right Quadrant
Does your company make an impact in the world?
Does rapid reaction to the market take place?
Do your shared values drive the behavior of your company?

Lower Right Quadrant
Do you use agile processes inside of your company? Have you grown beyond Agile even?
Do your processes continuously evolve and adapt and do the structures of the company change along with this?
Is your company in tune with the environment? Are you mindful of CO2 neutrality, green energy and your responsibility for pollution?
Is your company acutely aware of the social system it is embedded in?
Would the company be able to facilitate social change by being a model of a working Integral social structure?

Next part: levels