First published in Rapport, journal of the Association for NLP (UK), Issue 52, Summer 2001
Report on the French NLP Congress 2001
PNL DEVELOPPEMENT PERSONNEL ET COLLECTIF
XI ème NLPNL Congrès - Paris - January 27-28, 2001
The annual Conference of NLPNL, the French equivalent of the ANLP,
took place on January 27-28, 2001 in Paris. I was fortunate enough to
attend as one of the speakers and this article is a description of
the format and content of the weekend.
The way the Conference is organised is different to its British
cousin. Firstly, three presentations were given to the entire
conference of about 120 delegates. This year, as all the speakers
were English or American, each presentation was translated. In
addition, there were a number of group activities which encouraged
the delegates to share their experiences and to create an atmosphere
The Conference was opened by the President, Dr. Jean-Gérard
Bloch. Penny Tompkins and I were the first to speak, and it was both
an honour and, since we had never been translated before, unknown
territory. Fortunately we had the delightful and experienced Aude
Limet translating and we soon established a rapport and rhythm.
Our presentation was entitled "Metaphors of Change". We introduced
the idea and methodology for facilitating a person to self-model
their own metaphors using David Grove's Clean Language, a process we
call Symbolic Modelling. Being translated was relatively simple while
we were describing the process. It got more complex once the
demonstration started. I facilitated an English-speaking Frenchwoman
in English while Penny meta-commented on the process and Aude
translated all three of us! The effectiveness of Clean Language
relies on the accuracy with which the client's words are utilised by
the facilitator. This was graphically illustrated when the
demonstration subject unexpectedly began questioning Aude's
translation of her metaphors!
As often happens, the participants got a real sense of how the
process works when they experienced it from the 'client's'
perspective during the exercise. Once a person's Metaphor Landscape
(the perceptual space around and within them which is populated by
their symbols) becomes psychoactive and they have an embodied
experience of the significance of their metaphors, they learn the
value of self-modelling.
In the afternoon Joseph O'Connor presented "The Myth of the
Well-Formed Outcome" in which he introduced some principles from
system's thinking into the traditional NLP outcome elicitation
technique. For example, he had the participants discover what happens
when a 'random element' is impacts on an outcome. Each delegate threw
a die to determine which of six questions or statements (prepared by
Joseph) they should select and consider in relation to their outcome.
There was an air of anticipation and excitement as participants
scurried to discover their random element and then to reflect in
groups on the meaning and difference it made.
On Saturday evening there followed a highly creative process of
reflection and synthesis. The participants divided into groups of
five or six in which they described their overall experience of the
day. Then each group created a metaphor encompassing all of their
descriptions, which they presented to the other delegates. A
professional storyteller, Claire Descamps, who had been observing the
Conference, took note of these metaphors and created an impromptu
story incorporating every group's contribution. An entrancing end to
the day ... except it wasn't. The group had to accomplish one more
activity ... the Conference dinner.
On Sunday morning Dr. Don Beck from the USA introduced us to
'Spiral Dynamics'. Don, not an NLP'er, has developed his model from
the work of Clare Graves and it is aligned with the ideas of Ken
Wilber. In very simplified form, Spiral Dynamics proposes that
individuals and societies develop in a natural progression of values
and world views. If NLP were to incorporate the ideas of Spiral
Dynamics it would mean taking into account the developmental nature
of personal and cultural evolution. This could be a stretch for some
NLP'ers because it proposes that not all values and beliefs are
equally evolved and therefore some 'maps' are 'higher' and more
advanced than others "since they encompass greater complexity in
their value codes. They are not better or more worthy of respect.
Each new map must, in Ken Wilber's words, 'transcend but include' all
those who came before, and anticipate those on the horizon."
Don is not only a theoretician; he is actively involved in using
Spiral Dynamics for cultural change. He was invited to No. 10 Downing
Street in a search for ways to implement 'Third Way' initiatives in
the UK and abroad. He has discussed racial issues with President Bill
Clinton and reconciliation strategies with President Nelson Mandela.
In summary, the Conference was an uplifting, thought-provoking and
thoroughly enjoyable experience for me. Apart from being held in one
of the world's most beautiful cities, our hosts' gracious hospitality
and the participant's willingness to learn combined to create a
memorable weekend. We are indebted to Jennifer de Gandt of NLP Sans
Frontiers for inviting us, translating our hand-outs, and generally
looking after us, Joseph and Don.
One of the Conferences' key aims was the creation of an NLP
community spirit and President, Jean-Gérard told me that he
would like to foster greater links between the NLPNL and ANLP. I hope
this happens and France and Britain further develop a European NLP
James Lawley is co-author of Metaphors
in Mind: Transformation through Symbolic Modelling. For access to
over 50 articles and for details about how to order your copy of the
book, visit www.cleanlanguage.co.uk.
Jennifer de Gandt: