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The Developing Group
We established The Developing Group in 2001 as a regular forum for the exploration of new ideas in the field of all things Clean – and we have met 4-6 times a year ever since. The list of topics below represents the development of our ideas and methods since the publication of our book, Metaphors in Mind, in 2000,

Our aim is to provide a setting where, within a clean approach:
  • Leading-edge thinking can be applied in practical ways
  • We can go into greater depth on specific aspects related to Symbolic Modelling and other Clean approaches
  • Participants can develop their modelling skills and the ability to work systemically.

All the topics presented at the group are listed below.

The Developing Group is for people who use Symbolic Modelling and David Grove's Clean Language, Clean Space Emergent Knowledge and other Clean processes. Annual membership of the group is open to those who are recommended by a leading member of the Clean community, or who have the equivalent of 10 days training and who have maintained a fluency with Clean Language.

The Developing Group is not a training. Each day is about a topic that we find interesting and worth researching. Participants do not know what the topic will be until we send out an email a few weeks in advance. Often we provide preparatory notes which, with the input from the day, either form the basis for an article or we publish them as a 'work in progress' paper. Click on the links below to go direct to the relevant paper or see the summaries following the table.

Penny Tompkins and James Lawley

* These papers are published in various professional and academic journals.

2020 Nov 14
 To be announced
  Sep 5
Stick or Twist: Tracking acctention
  July 4
Investigating Agency
  May 2
David Grove's last four questions
2019 Nov 9
Life-Directing Patterns
  Sep 14
What do you do when you can't have what you want?
  July 13
Modelling Self-modelling
  May 11
Working Systemically with Linear Logic
2018 Nov 10
Holding Space
  Sep 18
Antifragility & Skin in the Game: revealing hidden risk & opportunity
  July 21
What do you do when you don’t know what to do?
  May 19
Working with Physical Symptoms: Same or different?
2017 Nov 25
Becoming More Mindful with Clean Language & Symbolic Modelling

Sep 16
It's a Matter of Opinion
July 8
Going Live

May 6
What happens when we examine “... what happens to ...?”
2016 Dec 3
Learning from Transcripts
  Oct 8
Appreciating Aesthetics: The effect of beauty
  July 9
It’s about time: Modelling frames of desire
  May 7
Questioning Clean Language Questions: Combinations & variations
2015 Nov 28
Extending Clean Space (with Marian Way) 
  Oct 3
Saying ‘No’ to Self: Modelling the Structure of Self-restraint
Jul 4
It Takes Two To Tango: Changing relationship patterns
  May 9
Getting to 'It': First Words, First Questions
2014 Nov 29
Embodying Others' Metaphors and Acquiring their Tacit Knowledge
  Sep 27
Polishing the Mirror of Reflective Practice
  Aug 2
Calibration and Evaluation 3 Years On
  May 24
The Leader-Follower Dynamic: A systemic perspective
2013 Nov 30
Solution Focus Through a Clean Lens *

Sep 28
What do you say before you say goodbye?

July 6
Deconstructing Feedback 

May 18
Applying Cross-Domain Thinking
2012 Dec 1
What’s the ‘Co-’ in Cooperating, Collaborating and Co-Inspiring?

Oct 8
What's in a Name?: The effect of labelling on experience

Jul 7
Inhibition: The art of systemic balancing 

May 12
Pointing to a New Modelling Perspective *
2011 Dec 3
Clean Evaluative Interviewing 
  Oct 1
Self-Nudging: how we can bias our future self 
  Jul 9
Calibrating when what you are doing is working – and when it’s not 
  May 14
REPROCEss: Modelling Attention *
2010 Dec 4
What did Improv ever do for us? 

Sep 4
Modelling the Written Word 

Jun 5
Huh? - Shifting Frames
2009 Dec 5
Modelling how we act from what we know to be true

Oct 3
Cognitive Dissonance and Creative Tension

Aug 1
Clean Space Revisited

Jun 6
Embodied Schema: The basis of embodied cognition

Apr 4
Accepting Acceptance

Feb 28
Attending to Salience
2008 Dec 6
Clowning and The Art of Split Attention
(with Vivian Gladwell and Carol Thompson
  Oct 4
Joining Up the work of David Grove *
  Aug 2 Vectoring and Systemic Outcome Orientation
  Jun 7
Maximising Serendipity: The art of fostering potential
  Apr 5
Black Swan Logic: Thinking outside the norm
Feb 2
"And Death Shall Have No Dominion" - A memorial to David Grove
2007 Dec 1
Responding-in-the-Moment (with Random Acts Theatre Company)

Oct 6
Coaching in the Moment

Aug 4
The Neurobiology of Space

Jun 2
The Systemic Nature of TA Games: When Symbolic Modelling meets Transactional Analysis (with Michael Mallows

Mar 31
'If only God would give us a sign' - The Role of Meta-Comments *
  Feb 3
Iteration, Iteration, Iteration
2006 Dec 2
David Grove presents Emergent Knowledge
  Oct 7
Modelling Conflict 
  Aug 5
Using Symbolic Modelling as a Research and Interview Tool
  Jun 3
Thinking Networks - II
  Apr 1
  Feb 4
PPRC: Paying attention to what they're paying attention to
2005  Dec  3
When the Remedy is the Problem
  Oct 1
Learning From Relationship
  Aug 6
Clean Conversations: Remaining Clean-ish in Everyday Settings
  Jun 4
Feedback Loops
  Apr 2
When Where Matters: How to create & utilise psychoactive space *
  Feb 5
Preferences: What and How We Like 
Dec 4
When and How to Use 'When' and 'As'
  Sep 25
Body Awareness (with Julie Driver)
  Jul 31
Proximity and Meaning: A 'clean' approach to adjacency *
  Jun 5
Thinking Networks - I
  Apr 3
Learning to Act from What You Know to be True
  Feb 7
Self-Deception, Self-Delusion and Self-Denial
2003 Dec 6
It's Happening Now! 
  Oct 4
A Developmental Perspective
  Aug 2
  Jun 7
Multiple Perceptions, Perspectives and Perceivers
  Apr 5
Context Matters
  Feb 1
Constructivism is Only a Construct
2002 Dec 7
Endings and Beginnings 
  Oct 5
Utilising Autogenic Metaphor 
  Aug 3
Metonymy and Part-Whole Relations
  Jun 1
Modelling Dynamic Equilibrium
  Apr 6
Perspectives to Model By
  Feb 16
What is Emergence?
2001 Dec 1
A Model of Musing: The message in a metaphor *
  Oct 13
Big Fish in a Small Pond: The importance of scale *

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It’s about time: Modelling frames of desire
Desired outcomes, aims, goals, intentions, objectives, plans, purposes and targets all describe a preferred future. When in the future and what kind of outcome makes a difference to how we facilitate clients to realise their desires. Whether a person wants to take a decision in the here and now, or to enjoy the rest of their life, involves different timeframes and structurally different outcomes. This paper examines modelling the timeframes, structures and evidence of client’s desires.
Saying No to Self - Modelling the Structure of Self-restraint
Have you experienced the desire or attraction to do something illegal, immoral or unhealthy – and not acted on that desire? If so, how did you do that? We aim to find out.
It Takes Two To Tango
By James Lawley | Published 04 07 2015
The Developing Group , Self Development
The longer a relationship pattern continues the more we can be sure neither person is solely responsible for the recurring outcome. From a systemic perspective it takes two to tango. That is, both parties (often unwittingly) perpetuate the pattern and the consistency of the outcome. This paper examines these relationship patterns and what needs to happen to take steps to initiate and maintain a new behaviour.

Getting to it
Embodying Others Metaphors and Acquiring their Tacit Knowledge
By James Lawley | Published 29 11 2014
The Developing Group
Metaphors contain tacit knowledge. You can explain what they mean to some degree and yet the subtle, implicit meaning that native speakers take for granted is hard to capture, even by professional linguists. Metaphor maybe a prime vehicle for the acquisition of tacit knowledge. This raises a question: How do we ‘acquire’ or ‘take on’ or ‘incorporate’ etc. metaphors that are not our own? Children seem to effortlessly manage it. But for adults who already have cognitive and emotional commitments to their (unconscious) metaphors, it’s a different story. 
Polishing the Mirror of Reflective Practice
Reflective Practice clearly involves 'reflection' and its application to 'practice'. However other elements are sometimes undervalued. How do you know your reflection is having a beneficial effect on your practice? How can you improve the way you enact your reflective practice? To find out we need to apply reflective practice to itself.

The Leader-Follower Dynamic – a systemic perspective
Leader, leading, leadership. Follower, following, but not follower-ship; why not? The metaphor of ‘leader’ and ‘follower’ is so embedded in our culture and language that we tend to forget there are other ways to think about and describe the relationship. Interestingly much of nature operates quite successfully without an overt-leader. The lack of a leader in an antifragile self-organising system warrants a re-think of our models of leadership. This paper explores the systemic nature of the leader–follower dynamic from a 'clean' perspective.

Solution Focus Through a Clean Lens
A four-part paper comparing Brief Solution Focus questions with those of Clean Language:  1. Compares the principles, processes and practices; 2. Analyses a line-by-line SF session; 3. Summarises the similarities and differences; and 4. Lists common SF questions and give cleaner versions.
What do you say before you say goodbye?
This paper explores an aspect of change-work that rarely receives much exposure – how to use the end of a coaching or therapy session to maximise the benefit to the client. We call this the ‘set-down’ phase. We examine ways to link what happens during a Symbolic Modelling session with what might or could happen after the session. While the topic will be of most use to coaches and therapists, other kinds of facilitators of change – teachers, managers, consultants – should be able apply the principles to their line of work. And, of course, there is an application to ending important conversations as well.
Deconstructing Feedback
This paper investigates both the complexity of the feedback-giving process and the range of information that can be included in feedback. We present a 6-type of feedback model aimed at increasing the quality of feedback given and to raise the appropriateness and usefulness of the feedback process.

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