NIP has always had to deal with an ever-accelerating pace of change, where precise and efficient communication is essential. To this end, we did some groundbreaking work with an external consultant - Caitlin Walker - to bring metaphor and clean language from the therapeutic domain into the business world. In February 1999, the BBC came to NIP's offices to film this (the resulting video is a module [B822 - Creativity, Innovation and Change] for the Open University [OU] MBA programme).
Successful relationships depend on rapport and shared meaning, and metaphors can be extremely helpful...
Metaphors can enrich, and accelerate, the emergence and sharing of ideas and models. If the process is used properly, it greatly reduces the likelihood that people are operating on assumption or misinterpretation and all the problems that this can cause. This has had an impact upon both internal and external communications. Successful relationships depend on rapport and shared meaning, and metaphors can be extremely helpful - as is the general awareness of communication that the training helped to create.
"Clean Language" is a form of guided, but "non-directive" questioning, that similarly assists in the process of creating shared understanding. It is "clean" because it does not embed the questioner's assumptions or experiences within the format of the question. "Clean" questions are typically composed of three elements: 1. acknowledging the individual's experience exactly as they describe it 2. orientating the individual's attention to an aspect of their perception 3. enabling the individual to gather information and investigate aspects of their personal models of the world.
The day of filming was excellent fun, and we managed to take a few pictures ourselves (click on each picture to see a larger version).
If you are interested in finding out more about metaphor and clean language, please e-mail Chris Vallé