The Process Enneagram as a Journey Map

By Steve Zuieback · Posted Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Process Enneagram was developed by Richard Knowles and is a modification of the ancient Enneagram that describes how energy flows through living systems. This is a nine-pointed diagram that has a unique and powerful sequence. Following this sequence, more often than not, will lead to more effective and powerful planning results.

The Sequence:

The most typical sequence advocated by Richard Knowles and Tim Dalmau is as follows:

  1. Current Identity
  2. Relationships
  3. Information
  4. Intentions
  5. Principles
  6. Tensions
  7. Strategies, Structures and Approaches
  8. Work
  9. Deep Learning

You may recognize the first 3 steps as the "below the green line" from the 6 Circle Model. The remaining 6 steps describe the future you want to create (intentions); the ways people need to operate that model the future state (principles); the restraining patterns that may block you from accomplishing the desired future (tensions); the strategies that will break the tensions and move you to your desired future (strategies, structures and approaches); the work steps to implement the strategies (work); and the ways of reflecting, evaluating and adjusting the plan based on feedback from what is working or not (deep learning)

Two Major Insights About the Order

In using the Process Enneagram for many years, I have learned two major things about alternative sequences. 

Insight 1: Build Information and Relationships into All the Work

It is more powerful to build more information and deeper sense of connections and relationships into every steps of the enneagram rather than talking about them as separate steps. This is not always the case, but is a powerful second option. You build more information and relationships by selecting the proper process at each step of the planning process. To see a short video on selecting the proper process, click here.

Insight 2: Talk about Tensions Before Principles

In high functioning teams it makes sense to go from Intentions to Principles and then to Tensions. In less than high functioning teams I have found more power in exploring the deeper tensions first. When you reach the real causes of the tensions this provides massive insight into both the most powerful Principles and Strategies to achieve the desired outcomes.

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