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How to do a Modelling Project - Section 6

Stage 3: Constructing Your Model

When modelling multiple exemplars for a class of experience, one process for constructing your general model is to:

1. Describe from their perspective and in their words how each exemplar does what they do to get the required results; i.e. construct models for each exemplar using their descriptions.

2. Evaluate each model for:

Completeness - It has all necessary distinctions/components. It answers 'what else?' questions with "nothing".

Coherency - The relationships between components adhere to an internal logic. It answers 'why?' questions from within its own logic.

Consistency - It will get similar results even when circumstances change. It can answer 'what if?' questions.

* You can evaluate the above by the degree to which your model shows 'operational closure'–
  • When no new components or patterns emerge and the exemplar's descriptions add no further information about how that operational unit works.
  • When new components or examples continue to appear but they are isomorphic (have the same function or organisation) as previously identified patterns.
  • When the logic of the exemplar's description encompasses an entire configuration, a complete sequence or a coherent set of premises (with no logical gaps).
  • When the model enables you to predict ways of dealing with unexpected situations, difficulties, interference or distractions that have yet to be mentioned by the exemplar.
  • When you repeat or demonstrate the operational unit to the exemplar, and they acknowledge 'that's it, you got it'.


3. Compare and contrast individual models component-by-component, step-by-step and function-by-function.

At this point you start to separate the information gathered from the exemplar: It is no longer their model, it becomes your model because you will represent the information in a different way to meet your modelling outomes.


4. Design your own model using one or more of the following methods.

a. Identify similarities across exemplars and construct a composite model based on similarities.

b. Use one of the models as a prototype and improve it by adding/substituting distinctions/components/steps from the other models.

c. Deconstruct the individual models into the function of each component/stage and construct a new model from the bottom-up.

d. Adapt existing models from other contexts that are compatible with the model you are constructing, and use them as the framework for your model (e.g. 'transformational grammar' was the basis for the Meta Model, and 'self-organising systems theory' formed the framework for Symbolic Modelling).


5. Evaluate and improve your model based on the degree to which it is:

Effective - It gets similar results to the exemplars.

Efficient - It requires the least number of steps/components (use Occam's Razor to make it "as simple as possible, but no simpler").

Elegant - It is code congruent, i.e. the content of the model, the manner in which it is presented/coded and the means of getting the results are congruent.

Ethical - The effects are aligned with your and others' existing or desired values.

[NOTE: We borrowed the first three E's from John McWhirter and added the fourth ourselves]


And, evaluate whether distinctions/components are necessary by the degree to which each is:

Effective - contributes to the overall outcome of the model.

Efficient - serves multiple functions.

Elegant -  fits into the overall coherency (internal code congruency) and enhances the consistency (external code congruency) of the model. It is compatible and aligned with:

The exemplars (Stage 2)

Itself (Stage 3)

The context where it will be tested (Stage 4)

The acquirers (Stage 5)


6. Test, get feedback, adjust model; test again, get feedback, adjust; etc. ...


More on Model Construction

Exemplar's cannot not do their patterns of excellence. A key aspect of modelling is to determine how an exemplar keeps achieving the same results even under changing circumstances. How is it that they cannot not do it? How come they don't forget to do it? How do they adjust for unfavourable circumstances and still get consistently excellent results? In other words, how come it's habitual? This information will not be in any of the components, but in the pattern of relationships between perceptual components. It will likely be the circular chains of relationships (Bateson) that keep the pattern repeating. And if so, your model needs to have comparable circular chains.

You can consider 'Is there any way I can I run this model and do something else?' and 'Under what circumstances would I not get the required results?'. Adapting your model to take these circumstances into account will make it more robust, and more consistent.

Except when, under inappropriate or extreme conditions, the pattern breaks down. At these times a values or ethical threshold is often involved. What are those conditions and what do exemplars do then? Bateson warned that any behaviour taken to extremes will become toxic. What are you own values and ethical limits with regard to using this model? These are non-trivial questions that we believe need to be openly and honestly faced.

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