Stage development makes sustainable

In a world where things change faster than we can plan and where the future is hardly predictable anymore, it is helpful if we can rely on our skills.

With each developmental step, stage development expands the capabilities of people, teams and organisations. It enables us to grasp more facets of a complex reality and to act with increasing awareness and flexibility.

Stage development stands for orientation

The Key Steps stage model makes natural developmental phenomena visible. 
Understanding the steps in which people and organisations develop naturally creates great clarity.

Stage development stands for healthy development

People learn and develop most easily when the requirements just exceed their current abilities (see Flow, Mihály Csíkszentmihályi). Key Steps achieves exactly this effect by guiding development along the natural stage logic.

Stage development stands for sustainability

With each step transition the ability to perceive, think and act expands. After each stage transition, people and organisations can process a higher degree of complexity  in an enduring way.


Consultants with a later stage of maturity, act empathetically and appreciatively, and are at the same time clear and consistent. 
They find it easy to adjust to the respective eye level of their clients and to adapt to their challenges.


Leaders who go through the stage development process are increasingly able to adapt mission, vision, strategy and implementation to changing circumstances in real time. They learn to make optimal use of different logics of action and how to relate them to each other. They are able to handle power relations with confidence.


Through the step-by-step development, employees learn to recognize connections and develop a better understanding of the meaning and purpose of their actions, which gives them much more motivation for their projects. Their ability to think in complex, strategic and interdependent contexts increases rapidly.

Photo by Ant Rozetsky on Unsplash

Step development makes more mature

Stage development is a natural development phenomenon that enables people, teams and organisations to perceive situations more realistically and comprehensively, to think more visionarily and strategically, and to act in a more flexible and differentiated way.

Stage development is a natural developmental phenomenon that enables people and organisations to perceive situations more realistically, to think more strategically to become more successfully.


With the help of step-by-step development, companies gradually become more intelligent, appreciative and sustainable.

Key Steps is the only organizational development model that bundles all organizational development measures along these natural developmental stages into a sweet spot – a zone that is particularly effective for organizational development. Starting from this sweet spot, the people and the organisation are immersed in a natural developmental flow. Step by step, the managers, the employees and the organisational instruments develop along the natural logic of stage development with ease and at an amazing speed.

Key Steps is a holistic development tool that makes use of the natural stage development phenomenon.

Fields of application of the stage development

Personnel development

From stage to stage the ability to perceive, think, feel and act grows.


The better we can,

  • perceive external situations and internal processes,
  • the more differentiated we can reflect the perceived
  • and the larger and more flexible our communication and action repertoire is,

the more effective our behaviour becomes. Research on the stage development of executives proves this connection in a very impressive way. The effectiveness of a manager grows disproportionately high from one stage to the next. It goes without saying that employees also benefit from personal stage development. Our coaching, our leadership development and also our systemic organisational consulting support the individual stage development.

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Develop agility

Under certain conditions, agile tools can promote the individual stage development of employees and managers – but at the same time they also require a certain maturity.


Therefore, when introducing agile tools, it is important to start with simple improvements based on the current organizational and individual maturity. From there, agility can be improved step by step. In this way, agile culture development becomes a model for success that is constantly improving  and is perceived as meaningful by the people involved.

Implementing the strategy successfully

In the expert organisation – the most common level today – most people are very focused on the details of their task.


Thinking in overall organisational and market-oriented contexts and also thinking over longer periods of time are not yet among the strengths of this cultural stage. Accordingly, people find it difficult to align their daily actions with the overarching strategy. For strategy implementation, you can now either identify the people in the organisation who are already capable of real strategic thinking and acting, or use strategy implementation as a “springboard” for maturity development. If you combine the two, your organisation wins twice – with growing maturity and excellent strategic implementation performance.

How to manage growing complexity and VUCA

The gradual development of people, organisations and cultures is the natural response to growing complexity.


In the past, the pace of cultural development of organisations could easily keep up with the growing complexity. In recent years, most people and organisations have found it increasingly difficult to keep up with the exponentially growing pace. If you systematically invest in your individual and organisational stage development, you can confidently look forward to the challenges of the future.

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Establish a new organisational design, develop the organisation towards self-organisation

Each organisational design has specific maturity level requirements.


For example, a matrix organisation requires a later conventional maturity than a functional organization. Self-organisation models (sociocracy, holocracy, the collegially managed company, etc.) require even more organisational maturity (leadership, behavior, organizational tools) than matrix organisations. Therefore we recommend the introduction of a new organisational design with a maturity development programme for management and employees and, in addition, a review and adaptation of organisational instruments.

Dive into the esentials of New Work

Sense orientation, self-organisation and respectful encounters at eye level are all essentials of New Work.


All these elements are part of postmodern culture. This cultural space exceeds the current organisational maturity of most people and organisations by one or two developmental stages. We interpret the current broad enthusiasm for New Work as a sign that postmodern culture is on the verge of its breakthrough. With New Work you are heading towards the future and promote step-by-step development in your organisation. What is important is a procedure that defines the first steps based on the current maturity.

Transformational Leadership, Positive Leadership, Leading from Behind, Servant Leadership

and other innovative leadership models promote stage development.


However, these models can only have an effect if the managers already have a relatively late maturity level or if the maturity development of the managers is specifically co-developed parallel to the introduction of such models.

Develop groundbreaking innovations, make design thinking a success

Truly groundbreaking innovations can only emerge when people are able to think out of the box.


The ability to question culturally shaped assumptions increases with each new stage. Associated to this the visionary and creative power of individuals,  teams and organisations increases. Unfortunately, these lateral thinkers are often not welcome in today’s culture, because their questioning attitude  is irritating. There are two possible solutions for dealing with this dichotomy: Either you identify the lateral thinkers in your organisation and let them work well protected by the rest of the organisation or you can promote the cultural maturity of the whole organisation until the number of lateral thinkers has grown so large that the innovative ideas have enough assertiveness.

Becoming a “real” learning organisation

The transformation of learning ability is a central element of stage development.


At an early stage, learning is primarily understood as technical and methodological learning. At a later stage, people then develop the ability to align their learning with the problem-solving cycle: Situations are analysed, development goals are formulated, and solutions are developed and tested based on these goals. Learning takes place when the problem-solving cycle is reviewed in retrospect and further possibilities for improvement are explored. In the next step of development, people acquire the ability to question socially shaped assumptions fundamentally, which can lead to completely new insights. One step further, the learning process itself is questioned. If you start directly with a model like “The fifth discipline” by Peter Senge, the chance of failure is relatively high, because a model like this requires a very advanced stage development. We therefore recommend a step-by-step development of your organisation’s learning ability.

Stage development – shaping the future with new perception, thinking and acting

True innovators have one thing in common: they have the ability to think in complex, strategic and interdependent contexts. To have this ability it requires a development of personal maturity. You can not only measure this maturity level with the help of by using the step-by-step development, but also develop it extremely successfully.

In the book you will not only find all the background information on stage development, as well as the path to the next level in your personal development or that of your company.

It is well known that we as humans have never finished learning. Less well known is the fact that we humans can extend our mental competence applying stage development for a livetime. With each stage of development, our perceptive faculty grows: we can think more complex and communicate and act more appropriately. This applies to individuals as well as to our entire human culture.

Stage development is groundbreaking and inspiring. The book offers comprehensive insights into the nature and effects of stage development and encourages people to actively take the shaping of the individual and collective future into their own hands.

Since the beginning of evolution, stage development has been the answer of living beings to crises and opportunities. With each stage transition the chances of survival improve. For billions of years, evolution has been limited to biological developments in perception, processing and action. Due to biological developments, animals became more and more flexible and adaptable. The development of complex brains with a psyche then suddenly opened up a completely new form of adaptation: a clever brain was able to find a solution itself and pass this solution on to future generations.

This is the birth of cultural evolution, which became a grandiose model of success for us human beeings. The great advantage of cultural evolution over biological evolution is the speed of development. New inventions and findings can be implemented immediately.

For the first cultural stage transition, humans still needed about 6 million years. Since then the speed of development has accelerated exponentially. At present, Western culture is on the verge of the transition to post-modernity.

Cultural evolution is closely linked to psychological development, which is well researched. There are already a considerable number of people who have left our modern times behind by one, two or even three stages of development.
From these people we can learn a new thinking, acting and a different perspective, which will enable us to overcome the great crises of modernity in a healthy and sustainable way.

Barbara Küchler and Gerhard Klein describe in a very vivid language the entire evolutionary process of development from biological to cultural evolution up to our time. In addition, the book leads through the individual development of each person from baby to adulthood, through the three stages of modernity, two stages of postmodernity and even already one stage of post-postmodernity. The knowledge of the sequence of stages creates orientation especially for people who want to use the great potential of stage development for themselves.

The two authors not only manage to captivate their readers, but also invite readers to a variety of changes in perspective, new ways of thinking, views and interpretations. Last but not least, they also provide very concrete impulses for development and action – both for the individual environment and for the larger social context.