We have been through many iterations of drawing out the Spine Model. Here is one of the earliest drawings:
We drew square brackets around Practices, because that is where the people we were coaching seemed to be fixated on, and we wanted to lift them up to a higher level. Over time we started to leave that out.
We spent a lot of time talking about the direction of the arrows and what they meant. It seemed very important. Over time we started to draw them all going down, and then we’d forget that and started drawing them going up sometimes…eventually we realised that it depended on the context and the conversation we wanted to have. There is no inherent linearness to any of the levels or movement between them. So now we leave the arrows out of the official drawing, but in conversation we often draw them as appropriate for the kind of map we are making.
Today, this is the official image for the model:
Each aspect of it is chosen with intent to convey a meaning.
Needs is at the top because it is the most important, and people tend to model importance from top down. It is also slightly elevated from the other four levels. Arrows have been replaced by a thin black line between the levels that is simply meant to add to the appearance of the levels forming a spinal column.
The solid triangle behind the levels represents the fact that although we make a distinction between the levels for mapping purposes, in reality they are inextricably overlapping and intertwined. For example, from one perspective something could be a mapped as a Value, and from another that same thing could be a Need.
The width of the triangle on the x-axis represents that rate of change at that point. At Needs level the rate of change is slow. As you progress down the rate of change speeds up.