Clean motivation

Tell us first something about yourself, what is your passion?

I really like people, as I’m a very gregarious kind of guy.

In my youth I played a lot of rugby, I enjoyed the physical and social aspects of the game.

Now,  I like entertaining and cooking, having people around the house chatting.

I’m dyslexic, so I really struggle with lots of written words and texts. I’m very visual and verbal, so what I I’d much rather be talking to people about ideas and situations, that’s me when I am learning, creating and developing at my best.

Tell us now more about CLEAN, because it became a real buzzword in agile world. Everything I read about agile somehow connects with CLEAN. Could you share some basics about it?

There are three parts to CLEAN.

Clean Questions relate to obtaining information about, attributes, location and sequence.

And where is?

It’s …. like what?

Is there anything else about …?

What would you like to have happen?

What happened just before?

There’s a CLEAN mindset, it shows what state you need to be in to be CLEAN and there are some presuppositions about that.

One is that the other person knows their subjective experience better than anyone. They’re the expert on themselves. They’re the one who understands it. And it’s a very person-centred approach because we want to keep our experience separate from the other person’s.

So that we’re not interfering with it or we are doing it as little as possible. We choose to trust the wisdom in their system, that they know what’s right for them on a very deep personal ecological level.

It’s about trusting that the wisdom is there, and it’s our job to let it reveal itself, rather than impose structures, ideas or thoughts. That doesn’t mean that there’s not time to do that. We all need expert advice information and guidance at some point.

But the CLEAN approach is, let’s see what the other person knows. Originally, the models were developed by a psychotherapist, David Grove. And a lot of this work came from the therapy field. Caitlin Walker moved this into groups and systemic work. When we talk about CLEAN in groups or in businesses and teams, we now generally refer to that as Systemic Modelling, using CLEAN tools to build a model of the system. CLEAN language itself is a very basic set of questions which are designed to expand, model and develop someone else’s subjective experience, keeping it all for them, without us interfering. The questions are the basic tools to maintain this CLEAN stance that we operate in.

We talked a bit about how to connect CLEAN mindset, CLEAN questions, CLEAN set up feedback and everything else with motivation.

So, there’s a couple of ways that we can do motivation. Why don’t we try now. Can you think of a time when you were really motivated? And when you were motivated, you were motivated like what?

Like Superman.

Tell us something about that Superman.

He’s strong, excited and so powerful to change something. So, he’s strong.

And where does this „strong“ come from?

It comes from beliefs that I could change something to be better for me and the magazine.

And when things are better for you and your magazine, what happens next?

I will include more people. I will invest more time and energy to develop the magazine more.

Okay. And is there anything else about your motivation being like Superman?

Maybe I could say that I almost feel like I can fly.

Great, so now we’ve got a metaphor and a little bit of a model about your experience of motivation. I could have delivered motivational speeches, about my motivation but that would not have helped me uncover any information about you.

Instead, I’m going to remember that your motivation is like Superman, because metaphors are easy to remember. So then, if we were doing this in a team, you’re Superman, and we’ve got Batman and Robin over there, but we might have the Joker somewhere. One of the big advantages of modelling it CLEANLY is that you own that now, that’s yours and it’s going to be embodied in you. You can reanact your motivation like Superman whenever you want now. But other people can now relate to that. It’s not a psychometric test so there’s more chance of everyone in your office recognising that when you’re motivated, you’re like Superman, rather than ‘you’re an ABC, one, three, front stage, backstage person,’ because those reports tend to stick in cupboards. That’s one-way CLEAN works with motivation.

It’s modelling your experience of being motivated. Sometimes in organisations, they can spend a lot of money or they might even bring in an Olympic gold medallist. He’ll talk to you about all of this kind of stuff. This tends to rocket motivation in a moment. It’s like you see a good movie or watch a great game of sports and you’re really motivated in the moment. But it’s not generated from your system.  You walk out and think „Ah, that was great, what’s next?“ But hopefully even after two, three minutes of just finding out about your Superman, and what that could make possible for you and your company, that might just stick around with you. It’s self-generated, it’s bottom up. It should stick with you.

As you said, I’m Superman. You’re Batman, we have Robin, we have Joker maybe, how are we supposed to connect those people to achieve one higher goal.

The first thing is to understand the structure of the metaphor. A metaphor is going to contain content, context and structure of the experience. The metaphor of Superman is going to contain “all of the Superman” and the metaphor of “Batman” will contain all of the “Batman”.  This will allow you to recognise diversity across the team. Another example might be. When asked – “when you are working at your best, you’re like what?”

Someone may say “I’m playing in a big band“.

Someone else might be as “I’m as quiet as a mouse”.

Different metaphors highlight the diversity in the team.

The metaphors, because they are modelled CLEANLY are going to reveal peoples inner experience, in a respectful way.

Then you’re creating the causes and conditions of trust and all of the that we that we all do anyway. And then by asking each other CLEAN questions. That is because the CLEAN methodology can then model the different metaphors and people get interested in them. And somehow, that lets them all up either to another joint metaphor, or the mouse can work out how to work in the band. But again, all the wisdom and the information is coming from the system. It’s not being directed in.

In the end, what is the biggest room for improvement for CLEAN methodology?

In a way, CLEAN is limited by its history. It came from therapy and working with the complex trauma, that’s how I learned it. It took a little while to spread from psychotherapy into coaching. Then, thanks to Caitlin and other leaders in the field it’s moved into business, health, education and research and is being used a lot. However, its biggest challenge is getting a foothold in different industries and getting them to share their experience.  

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