OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

"Youth" are not all the same. One size will not fit everyone. A stratified approach can address the common differences.

Youth are not all at the same level of cognitive development. Thus programs must be designed to meet the distinquished levels of development in this cohort: Those hungry, cold, and homeless have fundamental needs that must be met before creative engagement in society is possible. Those who live embedded in their family or clan will thrive on programs that serve and include the family or clan. Those who have individuated need programs where they can shine, be heroes, and control their own project. Those who believe they have found the one true way will benefit from programs that further their life purpose and have clear rules and limits. Those who question the old truths will need room to experiment and discover what works.

Photo of Tom Christensen

Written by

Mandella and DeKlerk guided the transition of South Africa out of apartheid without a civil war.  This was done by addressing the many different developmental levels of the populace...providing for the unique needs of the various strata of cognitive development.  The Netherlands resolved its militant immigrant problem by designing programs that met the full range of cognitive development stages in the population. A Dallas Savings and Loan revived a failing promotion program by providing rewards that matched the developmental levels of the tellers. We humans are all humans and we are not all the same.  We don't send a 3 year old to the store to get the weeks groceries, the task is not developmentally appropriate.  This wisdom is all thru our cultures.  It would be wise to design an employment program that targets the message to what the recipient can hear, what will be meaningful to a particular young person.  We can call this a stratified approach to meeting needs and creating opportunities.  Without this, much of our efforts will miss the mark.  To see the failures of not addressing the developmental stratas of a population, consider what happend in Iraq when the USA tried to impose a democratic system.  The developmental level of the culture had not gone thru the previous levels needed to form a foundation for democratic systems. But, there was eventually some success when the efforts began to include the clan leaders, the level that the culture is oriented around.  Not using a stratified approach can be very harmful.  Using it can free a whole country.  

16 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Alain MABOKO

Tom, these are smart points, I think it's more than a lesson, honestly I learn something from your contribution.

Photo of Tom Christensen

Alain, I'm very pleased to hear these ideas have meaning for you. If you want to join some leading edge thought on this topic of human and cultural development, google "Spiral Dynamics". I wish you success in all you do. - Tom C.

View all comments