CDF Works on Many Levels

In this short post, I want to draw attention to the fact that what we call CDF — short for Constructive Developmental Framework (see Wiki) — is a multilevel methodology, not only a methodology comprising three interrelated modules. What I mean by that is that a CDF user can use this methodology on at least four levels if not more:

1. The real-time interviewing and assessment level

2. The scoring, interpretation, and feedback level

3. The role design level

4. The human-capital level where CDF is a decision theory, both practical and teachable, regarding what is the requisite match between contributors’ developmental profile (size of person) and their accountability level (size of role).

Up to now, CDF has mainly been taught at the first two levels, under the label of “case studies”. These are focused on individual contributors and team members. Jan De Visch has developed theories about the role design level, spelled out in his two books, especially in “Minds Creating Value” (2014, see

I find level 1 highly important because at this level CDF functions in real-time, and what it un-earthes through interviews are DTF generative mechanisms creating movements-in- thought. This is the level of dialog, and also of “dialogical OD”, as the fancy new name goes.

While levels 1 and 2 are those of CDF experts, the higher levels easily reach into the “ideological” domains of business models where one model is better or more apt than another. Work on these higher levels requires dialectical thinking on the part of CEO’s and executive teams because role design and what I called the “human-capital level” cannot be separated from creating new value systems regarding the future of a company and entire societies.

At an even higher level, we get into issues of leadership development in a society as a whole, and the attendant issues of building new educational systems (not just in business schools).

It would seem to hold that for work on all these levels a solid grounding in CDF interviewing and scoring is still the best preparation for handling the more “ideological” issues. I think one must have witnessed how movements-in-thought create deep-thinking dialogs to appreciate the generative mechanisms of thought that especially DTF — the dialectical thought form framework — makes accessible through observation in the form of concept behavior graphs. Such picturesshow how thinking moves from one thought to another over time in a manner uncurtailed by formal logical thinking at the same time that such thinking is used as a handmaiden to dialectical thinking, a near-perfect marriage.

I wish executives would take the time to obtain their concept behavior graph, in order to better understand why and how they fail to handle the complexities they are grappling with. Certainly logical models and theories are no help whatsoever in this. And because people tend to be over-fixated on the content, the WHAT, of their thinking, concept behavior graphs actually show you the STRUCTURE of your thinking, in other words, HOW you think.

Let me know if it interests you to learn about this in greater depth.


Author: Otto Laske

I am the founder and director of IDM, the Interdevelopmental Institute. My background is in philosophy, psychology, consulting, and coaching based on developmental theory to which I have mightily contributed myself. See the blogs at