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How to do a Modelling Project - Section 2

Learning how to do a modelling project

Your outcomes

If this is your first attempt at conducting a modeling project (perhaps you are on an NLP Master Practitioner course) remember, your primary outcome is to become familiar with the basics of NLP modelling. Until you have completed your first project from start to finish you will not know what is involved.

Your evidence that you have achieved your learning-to-model outcome will come in four forms, each demonstrating a higher level of competency. In our opinion, demonstrating the minimum criteria specified below fulfils the requirement for NLP Master Practitioner certification and anything else you gain is a bonus.

The MINIMUM is that you:

(a) Demonstrate you have acquired a model of modelling that enables you to:

- Specify, plan and implement your modelling project

- Gather information appropriate to the outcome of the project

- Construct and document a model from the information gathered

- Test model's effectiveness at reproducing the required results.

(b) Describe the difference having learned to model makes to you.

PREFERABLY you will also demonstrate that you can use the model you have constructed to reproduce results similar to your exemplar(s).

CONCEIVABLY, you will demonstrate that you can devise an approach which enables others to acquire your model and facilitate them to acquire it.

ULTIMATELY, you will demonstrate that the acquirers are able to reproduce results similar to your exemplar(s).

Why Model?

We are right behind David Gordon and Graham Dawes when they say:

Modeling is a doorway into the vast storehouse of human experience and abilities, providing access to anyone willing to turn the key. For the individual who pursues modeling, this means:

  • Access to an ever-widening range of new experiences and abilities.
  • An increasing ability to bring those experiences and abilities to others.
  • A finer understanding of the structure underlying unwanted experiences and behaviors so that you know precisely what to change in those experiences and behaviors.
  • Ever-increasing flexibility in your experience and responses.
  • A growing appreciation of the beauty to be found in the patterns of human experience.

There is an excellent article, Why Model? by Joshua M. Epstein's based on his 2008 keynote address to the Second World Congress on Social Simulation.


Learning to Model

Modelling, and learning to model, are highly systemic processes. Modelling is a type of learning, and therefore learning to model is 'learning to learn'.

You will realise very quickly that modelling is an iterative process. That is, the results of each activity feed back into other processes, which are modified by the new input. The now modified processes feed forward to the next operation, which feeds back, and so on. For example:

I decide on an outcome for my modelling project. This largely determines the information I gather from my first exemplar. The learning that comes from gathering that information means I change the emphasis of my outcome. Both the revised outcome and the learning from the first gathering of information influences how I gather information from my second exemplar. This in turn may alter my outcome, it may help me to see some gaps in the information gathered from my first exemplar, and will certainly influence how I gather information from my third exemplar, and so on, and so on.

Learning to be comfortable with not-knowing, an abundance of information and ambiguity about what to pay attention to, especially in the beginning of a modelling project are prerequisites for becoming a master modeller.

What constitutes a modelling project?

In general, almost anything that interests or excites you enough to want to acquire another way of doing, being, feeling, thinking, believing, etc. We recommend you go for something that will really make a difference in your life - and/or others' lives too.

Having said that there are some practical constraints (aren't there always?):

You need to have completed enough of your modelling to be able to demonstrate your learning and competence by the end of the programme.

You need to choose a topic where you have sufficient access to your exemplars.

And you need to remember that your primary purpose is to demonstrate you are learning how to model. The project is the primary means by which you will acquire that learning and then be able to demonstrate your learning.

As a minimum, you need to show that you can model patterns of:

External behaviour
Internal states
Internal processes

One of the most interesting parts of the process will be selecting the 'chunk size' of the project. This will require you to balance your desire to acquire some big chunk skill with the resources available within the time scales. As a general rule, people learning to model initially overestimate what they can achieve (i.e. they bite off too big a chunk) and they underestimate the value of modelling a small chunk in depth.

It's OK to start with a big chunk outcome and refine it as the project progresses. In fact, it is common not to discover "the difference that makes the difference " (Bateson) until well into the process. But when you do, that piece should become the focus of your project.



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