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Principles for applying bottom-up modelling approach

(21 March 2004)

Identify and write/draw a Desired Outcome for what you are about to do.
    Put where everyone can see it.


Identify components/elements/pieces.
    Write them on separate pieces of paper
If planning an event, include the Desired Outcome for the event as one of the components, and keep it centrally placed.

Notice relationships, categories, groupings, sequences, synchronicities.
    In particular the relationship of each component to the Desired Outcome.

Until ...


 ... patterns, direction and a natural flow emerge.

Keep looking for the essence, the uniqueness, the inherent nature of this event and use this to inform the modelling process.

When a moment of emergence occurs, capture its essence so that ...


... it can be used as a guide to organising other components and relationships.

Once the flow starts, keep it going and incorporate more and more of the components — document/write down what emerges.

Stop the process when the flow is exhausted.

General organising principles

Keep applying the process to the process.

When you don’t know what to do, or get stuck, drop down a level and return to the:

  • desired outcome
  • basic components
  • unique aspects of the event.

Listen to the unusual voice, the suggestion that does not obviously fit, the annoying intrusion. They often contain the gem, the spark, the perturbation the system needs.

Look for signs of ‘its happening now’ (both externally and internally within the participants). Is what’s happening now isomorphic with, or a reflection of the event?  If so, utilise what’s happening now.

You can’t force the process. When the going gets tough stay true to the process — often crises happen just before emergence.

Take a break when the creative energy subsides — creativity often happens in the breaks.

Remember:  when you don’t know, the system knows.

Penny Tompkins & James Lawley
Penny and James are supervising neurolinguistic psychotherapists – first registered with the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy in 1993 – coaches in business, certified NLP trainers, and founders of The Developing Company.

They have provided consultancy to organisations as diverse as GlaxoSmithKline, Yale University Child Study Center, NASA Goddard Space Center and the Findhorn Spiritual Community in Northern Scotland.

Their book,
Metaphors in Mind
was the first comprehensive guide to Symbolic Modelling using the Clean Language of David Grove. An annotated training DVD, A Strange and Strong Sensation demonstrates their work in a live session. James has also written (with Marian Way) the first book dedicated to Clean Space: Insights in Space. Between them Penny and James have published over 200 articles and blogs freely available on their website:
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James Lawley
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