Duck: Think Outside the Flock

Here’s a game that will help to hone your ‘pattern spotting’ skills. I like it because each round is different and you have to work out the new pattern – just like you do when working with a new client. 

A pattern is predictable, not random. It has parts, repetition, and a system of organisation (how the parts are related to one another). And Penny Tompkins and James Lawley have noted three other fundamental requirements of patterns:

  • There has to be someone to notice a pattern’s existence – they call this person a perceiver (in Symbolic Modelling there are two perceivers: a facilitator and a client)
  • To perceive a pattern, that someone needs to be noticing similarities and differences.
  • The process of perceiving requires a medium in which the regularity can manifest itself: space, time or form.

“Patterns exist because a perceiver notices a set of similar characteristics in contrast to other characteristics. The similarities which constitute the pattern ‘stand out’ from the multitude of differences... A pattern is not in the components, it is of the components. Magic Eye pictures are a good example... The dots do not contain the figure that emerges - the figure exists because of the relationship between the dots and the observer.”

Metaphors in Mind, page 148

As you take a break to fathom it out, you may want to be thinking about the skills you’re employing to win each level, and whether each pattern is spatial, temporal or relates to the form of the duck(s). Or a combination? What patterns can you spot across the patterns?



What level did you reach?

Tags: james lawley, penny tompkins, patterns

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About the author

Marian Way

Company Director & Trainer, Portchester, Fareham
Marian founded Clean Learning in 2001, following a successful career as a maths teacher, then many years developing and delivering world-famous learning programmes with an international organisation. She is an expert Clean facilitator, is an adept modeller, a programme writer and an inspirational trainer. Marian designs our programmes and workbooks. She leads workshops and teaches on all our courses. She's trained people in Great Britain, Russia, Australia, Japan and the USA. Marian is also a recognised Clean Assessor. Marian's book, Clean Approaches for Coaches was published in February, 2013.


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