About the EUM (I)

The Existential Universe Mapper (Individual) belongs to the category of tools developed to understand an individual from a holistic perspective. Inspired by Clare Graves’ framework of evolution, it works on the basic principle that each individual, during the course of his life/ evolution, journeys through distinct universes. Each of these universes is characterised by needs, wants, attitudes, beliefs, values and proclivities that are specific and consistent with life conditions corresponding to that universe of existence. While the occurrence of the universes does correspond with the maturing process of an individual, these universes are not dependent on chronological growth.


These universes are described in an evolutionary frame as below:

  1. CLAN - Universe of Belonging and Protection

    The individual, whose dominant location is this universe, is primarily driven by his need for safety and security. His motivations, pre-occupation, concern, perspectives, choices he exercises, and association and actions usually hinge on creating a secure environment. He has a high degree of comfort with the familiar and the known , and prefers to operate from defined patterns and precedents. A preserver of tradition, he will be very good at maintaining continuity and anchorage. As a leader, he will be dependable and protective but at the same time expect obedience and loyalty. He is unlikely to be very comfortable with change and people working with him may feel cut off and obsolete in an ever-changing ‘present’ context.


  2. ARENA - Universe of Strength and Desire

    The individual at this universe is a pursuer and usually operates from a bold seeking for the self. He brings with him all that denotes individualism - creativity, adventure, fun, energy, bravado and heroism. There is an urgent need for fulfillment and a sense of disbelief about the future. The world is quite polarized and is often labelled as one with haves and have nots, knows and know-nots, winners and losers, predators and victims. The individual has a high need for challenges and a burning desire to surmount all odds. There is a sense of personal power that drives him and is usually keen for more. There is a difficulty in trusting, especially role related authority. Dependency and caution are looked down upon. A headstrong individual, whom will strongly resist attempts to forcefully curb his energy. As a leader, he is likely to be aggressive - protecting and expanding his turf and sometimes ruthless in the process. He has high demands from himself and others and not overly concerned about authority figures. People who work with him, will feel the rush and excitement of pursuit but also will be prone burn out and exploitation.


  3. CLOCKWORK - Universe of Roles and Boundaries

    Here, the individual seeks a world of order, responsibility and stability. He recognizes opposing forces especially between the self and others (as in the Universe of Belonging & Protection and Universe of Strength and Desire) and believes in resolution through balance. There is an emphasis on appropriateness and relevance and excessive freedom or lack of direction is not viewed very kindly. The individual has a high regard for discipline, duty, norms and rules and believes in the rightful exercise of just authority. There is usually a holding back of the self with a view of future returns. As a leader, he will take it upon himself to uphold the sanctity of the system and may be punitive towards deviants. He is encouraging of efficient, orderly execution of role responsibilities but at the same time may appear as authoritarian, rigid, dogmatic and absolutistic. People working with him will experience order and stability but will also be prone to a suppression of creativity and personal ambitions. A feeling suffocation with boundaries and a yearning for the restoration of lost paradise is likely to emerge in the individual.


  4. NETWORK - Universe of Opportunities and Achievement

    Here the individual finds himself having chosen a path towards paradise which involves discovering, gracing and legitimizing his aspirations. At this universe, the individual is practical, with a sense of vision/ mission and is wise to see it as different from fantasy. He is aware of his competencies as different from a sense of heroic potential. There is an enlightened self-interest and recognition of the mutuality of self and the context. This individual often sees the world as a marketplace where he stakes his competence. There is an emphasis on merit, excellence, learning and the need for mutually beneficial relationships.

    This individual strongly believes in individual contribution and shared responsibility. There does exist, however, a sense of discomfort with intangibles and a fear of vulnerabilities. A high sense of performance orientation, task focus and standard of excellence may result in a burn out for himself as well as his people. A feeling of island hood is likely to emerge within the individual.


  5. ECOLOGICAL - Universe of Meaningfulness and Intimacy

    At the threshold of the Humanistic universe, the individual’s prime need is to give to connect with others for the sake of relating rather than for a functional, purpose loaded personal agenda. He wishes to forge relationships, to invest in relatedness, to offer to and receive from others, their affection and attention. There is a greater valuing of acceptance and respect for people than merely for achieving success. As a leader he places emphasis on inclusive processes, egalitarian/ democratic values and has a belief in the good of the greater collective. With his participative style of leadership, the individual will seek consensus and is likely to be uncomfortable with unpleasant realities/ tough stances. He may suffer from a possible loss of pragmatism and a loss of task focus.


  6. HOLISTIC - Universe of Dualities and Simultaneity

    At this universe, the commitment of the individual is to live in the here and now. He believes in the simultaneity of the self and the system and does not locate himself at polarized ends of the earlier universes. There is implicit acceptance that people are different in many ways and are likely to have different values. There is neither disapproval nor condemnation; instead, there is a fostering of differences, sharing, and an emphasis on dialogue – a deep sense of convictions coupled with an explorative stance, equal valuing of expression and relatedness, and a strong belief in contextual responses. In the leader’s position, the individual comes across as a visionary, propounding the importance on values. He chooses an inspirational style of leadership. However, his belief in subjective wisdom may make him appear to be unpredictable, difficult to understand and he stands to come across as complex and fuzzy.


Though the universes are explained as distinct and disparate states, the EUM(I) considers all universes to be present in each individual. The extent to which they are present as well as the configuration of the universes, presents unique challenges as well as opportunities. However, most individuals are likely to identify with one or two universes, which are dominant in their profile. The individual’s current profile is also likely to change over a period of time.

While it seems most desirable to be at a higher universe, attaining this universe is not an end in itself. What is important is that movement occurs and it is quite natural to progress or regress. The framework rests on the principle of “movement towards integrity of the opposites” and moves in a spiral. Thus, the EUM (I) portrays an individual’s identity on a wide canvas. Unlike other tools which are deterministic and are based on an ‘a priori’ construct of types of people, it believes that despite similar patterns in the nature of issues faced, people are essentially unique. EUM(I) focuses on this uniqueness of an individual without classifying ‘strengths’ and ‘weakness’ which need to be leveraged or tackled. It explores the capabilities and limitations that an individual experiences as also the choices that are available to him at that time. Most importantly, EUM (I) does not categorize an individual in an N x N matrix neither does it ‘tag’ him for life. It sees individuals as dynamic and with an inherent capacity for change. The EUM(I) examines the current location of an individual, the possible causes for this, direction/ choices for the future as well as anticipated blocks and impediments. Thus, the individual is sought to be understood in a continuum rather than in a freeze-framed stagnant observation.


The Instrument

The EUM(I) maps an individual’s current location, propensity for change, perception of the world and his position in it, based on the above framework. It asks an individual to rank order 15 adjectives (ranks from 1-15, 1 being most descriptive and 15 being least descriptive), at three universes:

1. How he sees himself (Self Current or SC). ‘Self – Current (SC)’ is the Self Concept or the perception that an individual has about himself.

2. How he would like to see himself (Self Ideal or SI). ‘Self – Ideal (SI)’ is the individual’s notion of the most desirable state to be in.

3. His view of people at large (Other People or OP). ‘Other People (OP)’ indicates the individual’s World View or how he feels about the world at largge.

Thus, the EUM(I) scores are used to understand the interplay between an individual’s perception of the self, his world view and his idealized self.


Based on the vision of the entrepreneur, the mission of the organization and the functional work styles, each organization develops a certain identity for itself. The identity reflects the organization’s philosophy of business, its outlook towards its employees, stakeholders and society at large. This identity flows from the ‘existential universe’ of the organization. The six existential universes in which organizations operate are as follows,

a) CLAN: This is the most basic universe of existence, where the organization lays a premium on security and stability and is extremely risk averse.

b) ARENA: This is a universe higher in dynamicity but oriented towards good of the self. The organization displays little consideration for the society at large.

c) CLOCKWORK: This organization is diligent and demanding, yet benevolent and protective. It would have conventional systems and a hierarchical workplace. This organization tries to maintain a balance between profits and welfare.

d) NETWORK: This organization is comparable to the Arena oriented organization, the main difference being in its outlook towards others, collaboration and society at large. It recognizes that it does not exist in isolation and therefore, for its own ‘enlightened self-interest’, it must learn to co-exist with others.

e) ECOLOLOGICAL: This organization looks at itself and its role (including products and services) in larger human terms. It cares for its employees and society at large. It thus has a collaborative and ethical workplace, and drives its business through empowerment rather than hierarchy. It looks at money as a means for well-being.

f) HOLISTIC: This is an organization that is very strategic in outlook. It is ambitious and efficient and yet is ethical and caring in its ways. The organization thus symbolizes sustained and dignified growth.


The EUM(O) is based on the premise that each organization operates from a unique combination of these existential universes. This combination gives insights into the proclivities, entrenchments and issues of the organization.

There are four primary interfaces that impact an organization, namely, its customer, its employee, the technology and money. Its overall existential universe determines the nature of these interfaces. For instance, while a Clan universe organization looks at technology as a threat to the status quo, a Ecological universe organisation looks at technology as a facilitator of growth (of business as well as employees). Again, while the Arena universe organization looks at money as a thing for consumption, the Holistic universe organization looks at it as having potentiality to generate more. How these interfaces are looked at, at the different universes and what they signify is represented in the enclosed table.



How the EUM(O) works:

The instrument is based on the premise that each organization exists at a combination of the above-mentioned universes. It has elements of all, but it might tend towards a particular existential universe. Each universe of existence is manifested in a particular style of functioning.

The instrument requires the participant to simply rank order some adjectives that are representative of the style of functioning of an organization. The participant must do this rank ordering thrice, so as to reflect the following:

  • A perception of the current organizational stance [OC]
  • An opinion of the ‘ideal’ organizational stance [OI]
  • A perception of ‘most other organisations’ [MOO]

Each existential universe is represented by a basket of these adjectives, and each of the adjectives fits into multiple universes. Thus, in totality, the rankings represent a particular perceived stance of the organization and may be interpreted to tell a variety of organizational realities.

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