RoundMap’s Continuous Elevation Process: Cultivating Cyclical Growth

RoundMap’s Continuous Elevation Process: Cultivating Cyclical Growth

In business strategy and customer engagement, progression is often envisioned as a linear journey from one point to the next. Yet, RoundMap® advocates a paradigm shift from this traditional linear perspective to cyclical elevation. The inception of RoundMap was fueled by the insight that the linear approach to strategy, growth, and interaction confines the inherently dynamic nature of business ecosystems.

Central to RoundMap is the belief in the power of cyclical thinking. This perspective sees progress not as a straight path but as an upward spiral, continually revolving around a core of values and purpose. This transition from linear progression to cyclical elevation is more than a theoretical shift; it is a strategic approach that reflects the natural cycles of innovation, adaptation, and lifelong learning.

The spiral staircase is a powerful metaphor within the RoundMap framework, symbolizing the concept of cyclical elevation. It portrays businesses not as entities moving along a linear track but as dynamic structures ascending in spirals. They reaffirm their foundational mission with each revolution and extend their influence and capabilities. The spiral staircase analogy represents continual progress and the broadening of possibilities, capturing a business’s expansion in reach and elevation in purpose.

Embracing the principles of cyclical elevation offered by the RoundMap, organizations are invited to redefine their growth strategies, ensuring that every upward turn is deeply aligned with a shared vision, mission, strategy, and purpose. This approach guarantees sustainable business success and fosters a culture of collaboration, innovation, and resilience.

Cultivating Growth Through Cyclical Elevation

The evolution of a business from a startup to a mature company can be intricately illustrated using the spiral staircase (a helix projection) metaphor:

Startups: Direct Core Engagement ─ The journey begins with the inception of a startup, visualized as a narrow spiral staircase with a central pole. This pole symbolizes the founder’s vision and the core mission, providing structure and a point of support. There are no railings at this stage, representing the startup’s inherent flexibility and direct, unmediated connection to its founding principles.

Early Growth: The Development of Steps ─ As the startup grows, the steps of the staircase become more defined. Each upward step signifies a quality improvement, reflecting the organization’s commitment to continuous learning and innovation. The staircase is still narrow, indicating a focused approach to growth.

Expansion: Increasing Width ─ With continued success, the staircase widens, representing increased interactions with the market and customers. This is the stage where the company’s reach expands, necessitating adaptability and an increasing reliance on stakeholder-driven leadership.

Maturity: The Formation of the Railing ─ As the company matures and the staircase widens further, a central pole can no longer support the structure. Instead, the steps, now firmly interconnected, provide the necessary stability. An inner railing emerges, offering guidance and safety, symbolizing the integration of structured strategies and processes within the company’s fabric.

The Agile and Traditional Progression ─ At various points, the staircase may feature more frequent steps, representing an agile approach with rapid iterations and the capacity for quick adjustments. In contrast, specific stretches may have longer steps, indicative of a more traditional, phase-based progression, where planning is more predictable and changes are less frequent.

Relative Progress and the ‘Adjacent Possible’ ─ The spiral staircase allows for a literal and figurative elevation. The company rises through layers of growth, revealing new possibilities at each level—an embodiment of the ‘adjacent possible’ where new opportunities become apparent upon reaching a subsequent stage.

Collective Success and Integration of Values ─ The company’s shared values and strategic alignment underpin the staircase’s entire structure. The railing, accessible to everyone, reminds everyone of the collective mission and vision, ensuring that every organization member moves in harmony towards shared objectives.

Sustainability and Communication ─ The staircase is illuminated, fostering transparency and open communication within the organization. Natural elements integrated into the design signify the company’s commitment to sustainability and well-being.

Leadership and Culture ─ As the company reaches higher levels of development, the staircase broadens and features landings for reflection and alignment. This reflects the company’s maturation process, where culture and leadership styles evolve to support a larger, more complex organization.

Continuous Evolution and Elevation ─ The staircase remains an ascending spiral throughout this progression. There’s no endpoint in sight, only higher levels to reach—symbolizing the company’s relentless pursuit of elevation in quality, reach, and impact, driven by a dynamic and iterative approach to growth.

In this metaphor, the staircase no longer serves merely as a means to rise but becomes a living structure that embodies the company’s growth, values, and the collective efforts of its people. It’s a dynamic framework that reflects the RoundMap® philosophy, where a business’s progression is continuous, integrative, expansive, and unbound by linear constraints.

The Resonance of Growth Within Greater Symphonies

As we ascend the spiral staircase, each cycle of growth encapsulates a holistic story—a ‘holon’—distinct in its narrative of development but inherently linked to larger patterns. These holons are self-contained steps within the staircase, symbolizing the individual phases of progress a business experiences: conception, emergence, expansion, and maturation. Simultaneously, they are integral to the grand mosaic of wider economic trends, industry shifts, and the cyclical ebb and flow of market tides.

This holistic perspective reminds us that a company’s growth cycle is a microcosm of a macrocosmic pattern. Each step up the helical staircase is a self-sufficient unit of progress and also a part of a vast network of societal, environmental, and global rhythms. Recognizing each growth cycle as a holon reinforces the importance of systems thinking—a cornerstone of the RoundMap® philosophy—underscoring the interconnectedness of business strategies with broader economic and ecological cycles.

Thus, the spiral staircase does not just symbolize an upward trajectory but becomes a dynamic model, a fractal of reality where each cycle is complete in itself yet contributes to the structure of a larger, intricate pattern of continuous evolution and collective success.

Unveiling the Helix as the Blueprint of Growth Cycles

The image below unfolds a striking mathematical truth with elegant simplicity: ascending a spiral staircase is an ascent along a three-dimensional helix, which, when viewed from aside and above, traces the familiar ebb and flow of sine and cosine waves. This profound connection between spatial movement and rhythmic cycles illuminates the fundamental patterns that underlie both geometric forms and temporal progression.

As we climb the helical staircase, we are not merely moving in space but also in time, embodying a physical metaphor for the cyclical nature of growth and evolution. Each step is a point along the curve, each turn a new cycle, and the entire structure a testament to the intertwined paths of development and time.

This visualization bridges the abstract world of mathematics with the tangible reality of our experiences, suggesting that the rhythms found in the rise and fall of a business, the growth of a tree, or the orbit of planets are all echoes of this universal pattern. It is a powerful reminder that our journeys, through their twists and turns, are part of a grander cycle of continuous ascent and renewal.

The growth cycle projected in 2D and 3D
Natural Growth Cycle
The natural growth cycle of a potato plant following a sine function

RoundMap Applied Under Different Conditions

In the context of RoundMap’s approach to business transformation, let’s break down the differences between mapping, frameworks, and models and discuss how they can be applied while incorporating the theory of complex adaptive systems and the Cynefin framework:

  1. Mapping: In the context of RoundMap, mapping refers to visual representations or diagrams that illustrate relationships, processes, or components within a system. These mappings help stakeholders understand the current state, identify gaps, and envision future possibilities. Mapping is often used for stakeholder engagement, storytelling, and facilitating discussions around complex systems. Examples within RoundMap include the customer lifecycle map, stakeholder maps, value stream maps, and ecosystem maps.

  2. Frameworks: Frameworks provide a structured approach or principles for organizing, analyzing, and addressing problems or challenges within a particular domain. In the case of RoundMap, the framework encompasses a comprehensive approach to whole-system transformation, integrating systems thinking, stakeholder engagement, organizational design, and storytelling. Frameworks like RoundMap guide the approach to complex problems, offering a roadmap for action and decision-making.

  3. Models: Models are simplified representations of reality that help us understand complex systems by focusing on critical variables, relationships, or dynamics. Within RoundMap, specific models such as the Business Model Matrix and Business Vitality Matrix are used to analyze and evaluate different aspects of business operations, such as revenue streams, value propositions, or organizational health. Models provide a way to abstract complexity, allowing stakeholders to explore scenarios, identify patterns, and make informed decisions.

Now, incorporating the theory of complex adaptive systems and the Cynefin framework:

  • Complex Adaptive Systems: This theory recognizes that organizations and ecosystems are dynamic, interconnected systems characterized by emergence, self-organization, and adaptation. Applying this theory involves understanding how systems evolve, how patterns emerge from agent interactions, and how organizations can foster adaptability and resilience. RoundMap’s approach aligns with this perspective by promoting a panoptic view, whole-system thinking, continuous learning, and collaborative empowerment.

  • Cynefin Framework: The Cynefin framework provides a sense-making model for understanding different types of systems based on their level of order and complexity. It categorizes systems into four domains: simple (ordered), complicated, complex, and chaotic. Each domain requires different approaches to decision-making and problem-solving. RoundMap can leverage the Cynefin framework by helping organizations identify which domain their challenges fall into and applying appropriate methodologies and tools accordingly. For example, mapping and analysis may be more suitable for complicated systems, while experimentation and adaptation may be necessary for complex systems.

In summary, RoundMap integrates mapping, frameworks, and models to facilitate whole-system transformation in organizations. By incorporating principles from complex adaptive systems theory and the Cynefin framework, RoundMap enables organizations to navigate uncertainty, embrace complexity, and drive sustainable innovation and growth.


  • Edwin Korver

    Edwin Korver is a polymath celebrated for his mastery of systems thinking and integral philosophy, particularly in intricate business transformations. His company, CROSS-SILO, embodies his unwavering belief in the interdependence of stakeholders and the pivotal role of value creation in fostering growth, complemented by the power of storytelling to convey that value. Edwin pioneered the RoundMap®, an all-encompassing business framework. He envisions a future where business harmonizes profit with compassion, common sense, and EQuitability, a vision he explores further in his forthcoming book, "Leading from the Whole."

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