Reading Review


Clean Approaches For Coaches

Marian Way

Marian’s book is about creating the conditions for change within a coaching session, quite naturally and without giving advice, making suggestions, or interpreting your clients’ needs. Written in a clear and engaging style, there are plentiful examples, diagrams and case studies to aid your learning.

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From Contempt To Curiosity

Caitlin Walker

This book is a series of stories from Caitlin’s first meeting with David Grove to the development of Clean Modelling for groups and contains the principles and models underpinning Systemic Modelling.

It’s as relevant to business leaders as it is to parents, to organisational development as it is to creating learning communities.

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So ... You want to be #DramaFree

Caitlin Walker & Marian Way

Caitlin and Marian’s latest book: an interactive journal to help you reduce unnecessary conflict in your life. Includes 24 skills, tools and strategies, clean questions and tried-and-tested exercises designed to change the way you think about and react to the drama situations you find yourself in. A personal journey to create a calmer, more stress free life.

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Insights in Space

James Lawley and Marian Way

This book is all about how to facilitate people to solve personal and professional problems, generate ideas and access creativity by finding spaces to represent multiple perspectives and developing a network of possibilities. Learn David Grove’s Clean Space process and discover how to adapt it for any context, including with groups.

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The Clean Collection

James Lawley and Penny Tompkins

This is a fantastic website, with dozens or probably hundreds, of articles and blog posts related to Clean Language, Symbolic Modelling, Clean Space and Emergent Knowledge. Go browse!

Visit website


Clean Language Interviewing: Principles and Applications for Researchers and Practitioners

Heather Cairns-Lee, James Lawley and Paul Tosey

Any new approach needs to go through a period of experimentation, honing and legitimising before it moves from the hands of early adopters to general use. This book takes the innovation of Clean Language interviewing and crosses that chasm. As well as being about how to reduce interviewer bias and gather high quality data, this book helps interviewers create a model of their experience and demonstrate that the data gathered is grounded in the experience of their interviewees. As well as explaining the mechanics of the Clean Language interviewing process, there are also exciting essays, including one by Caitlin and Marian, on just some of the applications for this innovative process.

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Resolving Traumatic Memories: Metaphors and Symbols in Psychotherapy

David J. Grove & B.I. Panzer

Although David was a prolific innovator and produced a number of recordings and workbooks, this is his only full-length book on the subject of Clean Language. In it, he and Basil Panzer talk about its origins and its original use in psychotherapy for trauma patients. It includes a number of case studies which are reported verbatim. It is well worth a read.

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Metaphors in Mind

Penny Tompkins and James Lawley

Written for therapists, this book describes the process of using Clean Language for Symbolic Modelling in detail and includes many examples and case studies. There is also a chapter about non-therapeutic applications. A must-read book for anyone who is serious about mastering Clean Language.

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A Strange and Strong Sensation (DVD)

Penny Tompkins & James Lawley

This training DVD contains a complete Symbolic Modelling session with on-screen annotation. The client discovers her personal metaphors and symbols and learns how these weave together to form a Metaphor Landscape. She is facilitated to identify the conditions necessary for organic change within this landscape, so that new ways of perceiving herself and her world emerge. Includes 36 page booklet with full transcript and unique three-perspective commentary.

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Change 3.0

Wendy Nieuwland-Hill & Maaike Nooitgedagt

How do you use people’s innate potential for change in order to achieve organisational change? This book, based on Clean Language principles, addresses this question along with: What can you do to make organisational change successful, creating change that will last, without the constant need to draw it out of people? How do you engage people in change processes without becoming directionless?

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Clean Language in the Classroom

Julie McCracken

Clean Language is founded on listening and a particular kind of questioning, which uses Clean questions , formed by taking a person’s own words and blending them with a question which has been designed to be as free as possible from assumptions about what the answer might be.

Written by Julie McCracken, a real teacher with extensive experience of using these approaches with her classes, this book provides a comprehensive guide to using Clean Language techniques in the classroom.

This innovative new book gives teachers the tools to use Clean Language in their classrooms, including detailed step-by-step instructions, effective questioning and modelling techniques and case studies. The benefits of the Clean approach include: improved communication; improved attainment; a supportive, collaborative classroom culture and independent, reflective learners.

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Learning Journeys CD-ROM

Caitlin Walker

This Learning Journeys DVD was created in conjunction with Liverpool John Moores University in a series of Clean Modelling sessions with successes in the field of Sports Development.

Caitlin Walker demonstrates using Clean Questions to uncover their models for:

  • Working at your Best
  • Managing Time
  • Decision Making
  • Inspiration and Motivation
  • Overcoming Setbacks.

  This unique training tool is inspirational and a great opportunity to observe Clean Questions in a real interview context.

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Images of Organization

Gareth Morgan

This book is a classic in the canon of management literature. It is based on a simple premise: that all theories of organisation and management are based on implicit images or metaphors that lead us to see, understand, and manage organizations in distinctive yet partial ways. It challenges and reshapes how we think about organisation and management in the most fundamental way.

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Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities and Software

Steven Johnson

This is a fascinating look at how self-organising systems are changing the world. Emergence is change that occurs from the bottom up. When enough individual elements interact and organise themselves, the result is collective intelligence - even though no-one is in charge. Emergence is a phenomenon that is central to all clean approaches, which are all about bottom-up modelling.

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Mindset: Changing The Way You Think To Fulfil Your Potential

Dr Carol Dweck

One area that interests those of us interested in Clean Language and Systemic Modelling is which aspects of a system exhibit a fixed mindset and which are more open to new ideas, new beliefs, emergence and change. Carol Dweck captures very similar ideas in her book on growth mindset and we recommend this book as a useful starting point in this field. To be clear, we don’t take the stance that growth mindset is good and fixed is to be avoided. That is, we don’t have a fixed mindset about fixed mindsets. Rather, we are interested in where each comes from and when they are most fit for purpose.

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Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

For a long time, when Caitlin was asked what’s the key impact on a group of learning and applying Clean Language and Systemic Modelling to itself, she didn’t have the language to talk about it. When James Lawley shared w Taleb’s work on antifragility with Caitlin, here was a new term that explained something that had been clear to her without having the language to express it. Systemic Modelling is about creating the conditions so that when groups or teams are under stress, they have the tools to grow stronger or more connected as a result.

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Punished By Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s, Praise, and Other Bribes

Alfie Kohn

A real key factor present throughout David Grove’s Clean Language work is his ability to pay exquisite attention equally to problems, symptoms, outcomes and resources. Indeed, it is his non-judgemental approach that appears to give complex problems the space to resolve and transform. When Caitlin took Grove’s work into groups and organisations, she used this principle to ensure that she held a non-punishing, non-rewarding stance when facilitating a group. In this book, Kohn shares research that indicates some of the problems of the punishment and reward systems advocated in behaviourism and argues for an approach that seems very aligned with the cleanness at the core of Systemic Modelling. A must read for anyone working or living in a system where extrinsic motivators are the key strategies for change.

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Inviting Leadership: Invitation-Based Change™ in the New World of Work: Invitation-Based Change in the New World

Daniel Mezick and Mark Sheffield

When Caitlin was first applying David Grove’s Clean Language to teenagers outside the school system, an early decision that she made was that this approach would be invitational in nature. Initially, this came from Caitlin’s own experience of learning best when she was intrinsically motivated to grow and an aversion to anyone telling her what was good for her unless they were invited to. This book talks about the role invitation plays in fostering agile mindsets and supporting agile culture change. It has clean questions as a core competency.

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