RealDrives history


In the late 1980s the time was ripe - globally - to apply techniques and methods to guide people within organizations. In The Netherlands Hans and Machiel Koppenol took notice of the work by Clare W. Graves (1914-1986), the scientist who managed to distinguish “values” and was able to give statistically valid definitions. Ultimately Graves’s work went largely unnoticed in the US and never found a wide distribution. Even in the recent, comprehensive study into the phenomenon of drives by Harvard researchers Lawrence and Noria, the name Graves is not found in any of the sources.

Hans & Machiel saw the potential for wide-spread application of Graves’s theory and were the first to try and map out the values within whole organizations. To that end they initially automated a simple test designed by Graves, but they quickly ran into content-related as well as practical problems. The original set of questions by Graves did not measure up to the reality of organizations.

By 1992 the values test had been retooled to such an extent that it was ready to be implemented. This happened with the title “Piece of Cake”. The Piece of Cake test was first used by the De Boer & Ritsema van Eck (DBR) agency. The cooperation between Koppenol and DBR was so successful that many multinationals in The Netherlands started using the test and regularly flew people in to validate the “values”.

Chris Cowan and Don Beck were invited to The Netherlands on several occasions where they learned how to apply values within organizations. A few years later, in 1996, they wrote their main work “Spiral Dynamics”, which started the movement by the same name. To this day Spiral Dynamics works with an early automated version of the drives test. The Spiral Dynamics test is in essence a “world-view” test. It seeks to uncover how the test candidate experiences his/her environment, and what the test candidate thinks his ideal world might be like. In this way a picture of “is and could be” is formed, which can allow for thought about desired changes.

On its own the Spiral Dynamics test offers a good picture of “is and could be”, but it does not logically follow that employees wishes lead in good directions. Especially when internal cultures are not equal - as in either too democratic, or too focused on certainty, or too focused on scoring - then the wished for world often leads to bigger problems.

The Piece of Cake test was administered to large groups of people in the 1990s. One of these people was Hans Versnel, later a partner at the consulting firm Visser Copini & Partners. This firm bought the rights to the Piece of Cake test tool in 1999 and expanded it into what became Management Drives. Management Drives entered the market in the year 2000 and was an instant success. Within a year the product enjoyed wide distribution and the first city councils and government leaders started taking the Management Drives test.

In 2006 Management Drives was bought by the Corgwell Group, this signaled the end of involvement with Management Drives for both Machiel Koppenol and Hans Versnel. Management Drives as sold and used today is the same drives test that first came out in 2000.

The experience with all the first generation approaches to drives were favorable, however there was still plenty of room for improvement. Moreover, it became clear that a totally different approach to the phenomenon of drives would be more productive. And that far better measurements were possible. With this in mind, Machiel Koppenol and Hans Versnel released a totally new product in 2009: RealDrives. Since then RealDrives has rapidly found its way to the international marketplace.