History of the Map


The Map of Meaning is based on empirical research.


The Map of Meaning:

  • was developed from the stories of ordinary people.
  • has been tested and is used in many countries and situations.
  • is new knowledge, useful to all.
  • is profound, simple, practical and very easy to work with.

Originally Marjolein Lips-Wiersma surveyed people from a variety of backgrounds and a wide range of roles, including professional, managerial, blue collar and administrative.on what gives meaning to their work. Marjolein summarised their answers in the Holistic Development Model.

The Model was tested by Marjolein, Lani Morris and Patricia Greenhough with hundreds of people in workshops, lectures, and in organisational and therapeutic interventions. We double-checked it's relevance and robustness with a further twenty colleagues (academics, community workers, consultants, managers and coaches) who use the model in their work.

In 2010 we quantitatively tested the model on 500 participants from a wide variety of ages, occupations and cultures. This confirmed that the model captures the content and process of meaningful work.

After seventeen years of testing the Model in this wide range of ways, in an ever-expanding range of countries (including Romania, Saudi Arabia, and Brazil) we have reached a point where we know the model is robust, relevant and very useful.

In 2011 after we published the book The Map of Meaning, we decided to rename the Holistic Development Model, the Map of Meaning. 

In 2017 our original publisher, Greenleaf, was bought out by Routledge, and the second edition of our book is published by them with worldwide distribution.

In 2017 we formed the Map of Meaning International Trust. This charitable trust supports our goal of sharing the Map of Meaning with all the peoples of the world.

It’s now 2019 and the Map of Meaning International Trust goes from strength to strength.  We would like to acknowledge all those who have been a key part of this growth.

Marjo’s husband, Charles Lips; Patricia’s husband, Richard Greenhough; Margaret Jeffaries who was the initiator of the first Spirit@Work in conference in Christchurch in 2000, at which the Map was first made public and which created the spark that led us to begin our work together. Then the early pioneers who worked with the Map: Laura Brearley, Sue Howard, Dave Burton, Robin Burgess and Drew Pryde from the Scottish Institute of Business Leaders, Helena Clayton, Steve Tarpey, Kerry McGovern, who each in their own way took the Map into new parts of the world, and developed new applications.  We have also been greatly assisted by Cara Bennett of Langley Twigg, and Geof Shirtcliffe of Chapmann Tripp both of whom gave us advice and legal support to set up the MOMICT.  And Sean Bevin who was the witness for the Trust documentation.