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Smartek for visualization and team communication
Smartek for visualization and team communication
Mar 31, 2022
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Smartek for visualization and team communication

Team Communication

Understanding the dynamics, strength but also the weaknesses of your team is important for it's organization success. Everywhere around us we have teams of unique (and different) people that need to communicate and work (do something) together. All these people have different background, values and behaviours. A question that arrises is; how to quantify; measure and/or visualise the team performance, behaviour and/or dynamics?

Graves et al.

Psychologists have invented various methods to measure peoples behaviour. Many methods are based on the ipsative measure where two or more desirable options are presented from which the individual needs to pick one they prefer (also called the forced-choice scale). This is also the basis of the model invented by Graves, Beck and Cowan, which is called Spiral Dynamics (tm). Based on various questions (and answers) a model can be calculated of an individual explaining it's behaviour and development aka drives. In theory there are 8 drives put into colours and orientation (ME- or WE-oriented):

  • Beige - Survival/Reflex - ME
  • Purple - Connection/Rituals - WE
  • Red - Strength/Pace - ME
  • Blue - Order/Structure - WE
  • Orange - Success/Result Oriented - ME
  • Green - Social/Consensus - WE
  • Yellow - Insight/Autonomy - ME
  • Turquoise - Holistic/Global - WE

With some 'magic' applied these drives can be put into an individual Preferences and Resistances graph. Here are my personal Spiral Dynamics graphs as an example:

As you can see my preferences are very much ME oriented with the dominant Orange, Red and Yellow colours i.e. I am very goal oriented. In my resistance I have a lot of Purple which is a resistance against rituals, formalities, habits et cetera. Although we can continue analyse my graph, but that is not the focus of this blog today. Let's move to the visualisation with Smartek.

Translation to Smartek

Smartek blocks currently come in 12 colours but unfortunately we currently do not have a turquoise colour available. Therefore we had to adept the mapping a bit where turquoise is mapped to Smartek grey. Here is a full list of mapped colours:

  • Beige - Not Applicable in the graph
  • Purple - Smartek Purple
  • Red - Smartek Red
  • Blue - Smartek Blue
  • Orange - Smartek Orange
  • Green - Smartek Green
  • Yellow - Smartek Yellow
  • Turquoise - Smartek Grey

The second step was to define the granularity / resolution of the graph to the blocks available. A complete graph represents 100% although we assume nobody will score 100% on 1 colour? There are two options, either we use single colour blocks or use the more fine option for half colour blocks. The downside of the single colour is that you will need more blocks to visualise the differences in colour height and for the half colour blocks is that you need to add a 'background' colour to visualise the half block meaning you also add more blocks.

For this project we chose for half blocks an calculated based on a 7 steps resolution and the Min-Max peak % from the total group the step size of each block. In the above example you see a maximum peak resistance of 33% and a minimum peak resistance of 3%. Meaning a 4,29% step size. We let Excel do the work to calculate the blocks needed for our individual graph.

All blocks stacked together
Preference and Resistance seperated

We also chose to limit each individual set to 3 boxes i.e. 3x19=57 blocks. With a granularity of 7 we need 4 blocks (4x2 halfs = 8 halfs) and we have 7 drives. For the preference or resistance we then need 7x4=28 blocks i.e. a total of 56 blocks. The one remaining block we added a Ukraine flag.

For the group

Now we can make the preferences and resistances for the complete group:

And pack them in individual colour boxes so we do not mix the individual sets up:


There are a dozen other ways to make these graphs e.g. by using more/less granularity. With the above setting we created a visual friendly physical representation of someones Spiral Drives which can be placed on your desk together as a reminder of who you are:

Or used individually:

Preferences with a white row of half blocks
Resistances with a black row of half blocks

The unique feature of Smartek is that it can also be used on a whiteboard during a group session to visualise the group drives and afterwards you can take them home and put them on your fridge to remind you every time you open the door what your real drives are: