Working with groups is a deep and rich topic – and an area in which Clean is developing quickly. Here’a an idea to whet your appetite, based on the Metaphors@Work process devised by Training Attention.

One way in which Clean is used with groups is in team alignment events, to help a team come up with a shared metaphor for working well together. The process might look something like this:

  • Ask the team: “When our team is working really well together, it is like what?” Then invite each member of the team to draw their own individual metaphor picture to represent their personal answer
  • One by one, ask the members to show their pictures and describe their individual models to the others
  • Invite individuals to ask Clean Language questions about each person’s picture. These questions help the model-owner to engage with their own values and beliefs, while also revealing the values, style and needs of the questioner
  • Using what is now known about all the various members’ models and individual behaviours, ask the team to negotiate a shared metaphor for the team’s mission. This collaborative process can mean revisiting individual models to elicit more information, and reviewing the team’s desired outcome or managing potential conflicts. The aim is to agree a metaphor in which everyone has a stake
  • Finally, allow the team to work together to develop a representation of the shared metaphor, in the form of a larger picture or perhaps a physical model.
  • This application demonstrates how basic Clean Language and the ideas which underpin it can be used with teams, and it’s just one idea among many that are being explored and experimented with worldwide. What’s best for a given situation depends upon the team and its desired outcome. What’s clear is that Clean can profitably be used with groups in a huge variety of different situations.

    This is an extract from Clean Language: Revealing Metaphors and Opening Minds, due out in November 2008

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