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Clean Experiments


To a large extent, it’s the discipline of Clean Language that makes it such a powerful process. The deliberate constraints we put on ourselves as facilitators gives more room for our clients to explore their own inner world and for new information to emerge. So at the practice group, we designed three “Clean Experiments” with additional constraints, to see what would happen.

Our first experiment was to limit ourselves to asking just these three questions: Is there anything else about… ; What kind of ... is that ... ?; Where is ... ? A second experiment was to only ask questions of the adjectives used by the client. A third experiment was in a group of four, one person is the client and the other three ask one question between them, splitting the syntax into three parts (And… and when… question). In each case we started by asking “And what would you like to have happen?”

Here’s what we found…

Sticking to just three questions, all of which were developing questions, resulted in very well developed metaphor landscapes. Having just the three questions meant we were forced to investigate some words and symbols further - in more detail than we would have done. In one group, the experiment was taken even further, and all the words in the clients’ first response were developed using each of the three questions at least once. When a different question came to mind, we had to work hard to reformulate it into one of the three, and found this could be done. In every case, a lot of information came out and things evolved and changed in much the same way as they do when there are more questions available.

Asking questions of just the adjectives seemed to be more challenging. Those who tried this experiment found they had to over-ride their natural intuition about what aspect of a client’s landscape to attend to, and the session seemed more disjointed.

Working in a team of three to produce a single question was a good exercise for practising the syntax and enormously helpful for beginners, although more experienced facilitators reported that it seemed more ‘linear’ and random - it didn’t feel like modelling. To get a rhythm going, the three definitely needed to work as a team and all three needed to stay focussed on the job in hand. The clients, however, still made sense of it and gained from the experience - and this seemed to be true in each of our experiments. Providing the clean principles were adhered to, the client could still get valuable information.

Photo by Alex Kondratiev on Unsplash

About Marian Way

Marian Way's avatar

A highly skilled facilitator and trainer, Marian, who founded Clean Learning in 2001, has developed and delivered training across the world. She is the author of Clean Approaches for Coaches, co-author, with James Lawley, of Insights in Space and co-author, with Caitlin Walker, of So you want to be… #DramaFree.

Marian is an expert Clean facilitator, an adept modeller, a programme writer and an inspirational trainer. She has a natural ability to model existing structures, find the connections between them and design new ways for people to learn. Marian was a leading innovator within the Weight Watchers organisation, which included developing the “points” strategy, a local idea that went on to become a global innovation. She is a director of both Clean Learning and Training Attention CIC, world leaders in clean applications for corporate, educational and community development. She designs our programmes and workbooks, leads workshops and teaches on all our courses. She’s trained people in Great Britain, Russia, Sweden, Germany, Australia, Japan and the USA. Marian is also a recognised Clean Assessor.

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