(This article appears on the IEA’s NinePointsMagazine.org.)
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. – Leonardo Da Vinci
Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple
thats creativity. – Charles Mingus
Im often asked how I can teach a system as complex as the Enneagram in organizations, given the time constraints, discomfort with esoteric language, and need for direct applicability often found in that environment. The implicit (and sometimes explicit) assumption in the question is that if we make the Enneagram simple we strip it of its depth, power, or spiritual value. Im always surprised by this assumption, wondering if the person ever heard of, say, Zen Buddhism or Quakerism, deep and profound approaches to spirituality with simplicity at the heart of their practice.
We all know that, for better or worse, there is no official Enneagram. Sure, there are things that most people agree onthe vices and virtues that correlate to the points of the diagram, for example. But, since there is no single, central dogma, people can and do put their own twist on the system. Sometimes these adaptations arise from new insights, sometimes they arise from the combination of the Enneagram with another system, sometimes they arise as a response to the needs of a particular audience or environment.