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The Map and the Territory

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Just as the structure of a window both frames and limits our view of the outside, our frame of mind both clarifies and limits what we can imagine, consider, and interact with. Susanne Cook-Greuter, Bill Torbert, Bob Kegan, and others, through their significant empirical research and practical applications, have identified several stages that map out how our frames of mind evolve in adulthood.

As with all models, this is a map that must be integrated with real life territory to be truly useful. The stage models provide powerful and cutting edge clarity to how leaders can mature to the next level. In his article, The How-To of Vertical Development, Nick Petrie identifies what he calls the Primary Colors” of Vertical Development, which work in tandem with the stage models. The “Primary Colors” are “heat” or life-altering experiences and an environment that not only supports but encourages the risk-taking and perspective-shifting fundamental to vertical growth. Petrie suggests these “Primary Colors,” along with the map outlined in Adult Stage models, can greatly contribute to Vertical Development efforts.

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