The Nine Domains Approachsm

The Nine Domains Approachsm (9D) is a set of surveys and reports, interpretive materials, and specific Interventions and Practices (I&Ps) for understanding and working with teams and groups of all kinds and sizes. The combination of these materials provide precise and practical means to improve the health and functioning of groups and organizations.

The Nine Domains Approachsm is a facilitated method of working with teams which encourages communication, cohesion, and ownership within the group for its health and sustainability. This Approach is applicable for a wide variety of organizations, corporate teams, not-for-profit groups, churches, teaching staffs, and volunteer groups of all kinds.

The 9D Approachsm is different and useful because—

  • It allows the administrator to select among four different surveys depending on what kind of information would be most useful for current needs.
  • The results of each of the 9D Surveys provide rich and detailed information that form the basis of surprising insights. These insights lead to instructive and liberating conversations and energizing and confident actions.
  • With this precise and clear base of information, the 9D Facilitator knows which Domains are working well and which need more attention. The set of 90 Interventions and Practices (I&Ps) that are provided in 9D Training are models for the kind of in-depth guidance that a professional consultant will be able to generate.

The 9D Approachsm: Profound Yet Simple

The Nine Domains Approachsm is a fresh way to work with groups as the specific, living, changing organisms that they actually are—not as “generic” entities. The 9D Approachsm is deceptively simple because it measures a group or team by means of our core survey, the TOLATsm. It is profound, however, because the 9D Approachsm allows a full accounting of all of the components of the team as a system, with a depth and clarity not heretofore possible without this new technology.

Perhaps the main reason that 9D is profound yet simple, is that the Nine Domains are a way that nature handles complexity. Plants, animals, birth and growth of all organisms are governed by principles—so are music, art, communities, governments—indeed, principles govern all complex, interdependent systems where growth is possible.

There are, in short, a limited but meaningful list of components that are “necessary and sufficient” for organisms to exist and thrive. As observation continues to reveal, nature builds complexity out of simple elements. Finding the “simplicity at the other side of complexity” (Sir Oliver Wendell Holmes) is not easy. But once it is found—it is a remarkable and often profoundly useful revelation.

Another reason for the powerful simplicity of The Nine Domains Approachsm is that it is based on the Enneagram personality typology. For the past 40 years, the Enneagram has been used worldwide to understand one of the most complex systems in the universe—human nature. Many Riso-Hudson findings about individual human personality are directly transferable to group dynamics, as reflected in The Nine Domains Approachsm.

Don Riso who conceptualized The Nine Domains Approachsm, is respected throughout the world for his work with the Enneagram. With his writing and teaching partner, Russ Hudson, they have discovered many previously unknown aspects of the Enneagram. They are known for conceptual breakthroughs in Enneagram theory that have wide-ranging practical applications. The Riso-Hudson tradition of profound insights, creative thinking, clear writing, and engaging teaching are carried forward by the Nine Domains Group (Monika Adelfang, Barry Coltham, Joni Peddie, and Joyce Stenstrom).

The 9D Approachsm: Holistic & Universal

The Nine Domains Approachsm recognizes nine fundamental elements that must be present and in balance for a system to survive and thrive. As such, this approach becomes a “check list for completeness” and can be applied to the development of a team, the analysis of a particular problem, or the evaluation of an entire complex situation or crisis.

Such a comprehensive checklist addresses the often overlooked human tendency to emphasize certain components of a situation while minimizing or completely ignoring others. Of course, while many professionals who work with teams can develop a workable list of important considerations for solving problems, the list will invariably be based on their own history, limitations, and biases.

The Nine Domains overcomes this limitation by providing elements that form a complete whole. That is, each Domain is necessary and, taken together, they are sufficient. One can be assured that when working with the Nine Domains, you will not be overlooking an important element both of the problem or of a possible solution. The completeness of the 9D instruments allows one to perceive aspects of problems that generally would be overlooked and the ability to go deeper into the most important aspects of problems when they still can be solved.

In short, one can go as far as one needs to with the conceptual vehicle of the Nine Domains because it provides a clear and relatively easy way to employ systems thinking and a common language for dealing with challenges and problems. While holistic thinking and a common language are always important for any organization, they are crucial and indispensable in times of reorganization and significant change.

Furthermore, the values of an organization and its operational behaviors are more clearly understood by mapping them to the Nine Domains. This allows a common language and metric for the development of training programs and policies that are internally consistent and coherent.