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Supplementary notes following The Developing Group, 2 August 2008

3. Structure of a Vector

There are two types of vector:

From a ... To a ...

From ... Towards ...        [Thanks to Marion Way for this idea]

‘From a ... To a ...’ vectors have a more or less definite end point. They are usually used to facilitate the client to ‘Identify [...]’ where [...] is a particular aspect of their experience, e.g. a metaphor, a desired outcome statement, evidence or criteria for how they know something, etc.

[See also John McWhirter's FROM-TO-IN model in 'Re-Modelling NLP, Parts 1-14', Rapport, issues 43-59 (1998-2003), reproduced at]

The classic ‘From a ... To a ...’ vector was devised by David Grove in the 1980's and became known as ‘From a feeling to a metaphor’. This vector facilitates the client to 'Identify a metaphor/symbol for a feeling or other sensation' (see section 4 ‘Sample Vectors’). It has all the hallmarks:

- It has a starting point: from an aspect of the client’s current experience, in this case a feeling.

- It has an aim, an end point: for the client to represent the sensations of a feeling symbolically.

- It has a means: by which (usully through a series of steps) the client is offered the opportunity to  get to the end point. In this case, by locating the feeling, then identifying a number of sensory attributes of the feeling, and then using the attributes to invite the client to convert or translate those into a metaphor or symbol.

‘From ... Towards ...’ vectors have no definite end point. The facilitator is always having to decide if, in the moment, the client has “enough” for the vector to be considered completed. ‘Develop ...’ is the most commonly used class of vector of this type.

The typical ‘From ... Towards ...’ vector is exemplified when the client is facilitated to 'Develop a desired Outcome perception'. It comprises:

- A start from a statement of the client’s desired Outcome.

- An aim to move in a direction toward the client embodying a 3D psychoactive perception of their desired outcome.

- A means: by answering developing questions (which hold time still) the client is likely to be able to elaborate the form, location and function of the key symbols that comprise their desired outcome, and the relationships between those symbols.

How much and for how long the client is facilitated to maintain their attention on a single desired outcome perception depends on a whole raft of factors that the facilitator will take into account, including the:

- Logic of the content the client’s desired outcome.
- Response of the client to their own perception and words
- Level of self-awareness of the client
- Ease/difficult with which the client is able to create a desired outcome perception
- Time available for the facilitation
- Kind of relationship and level of rapport between client and facilitator

“All forms of tampering with human beings, getting at them,
shaping them against their will to your own pattern,
all thought control and conditioning is, therefore,
a denial of that in men which makes them men and their values ultimate.”
Isaiah Berlin, Two Concepts of Liberty (1958)
quoted in The Guardian Weekend Magazine, August 2, 2008, p. 65.


Remember, the following examples of common vectors are abstract generalities. They are for illustrative purposes. Vectors are what actually happen during actual client sessions (or other interactions). In this respect every vector is unique. A vector is the direction in which:

the facilitator thinks they are heading,
an observer thinks the process is heading (or has headed, if the analysis is done after the session took place).

Although vectors are defined by their From-To(ward) structure, as a shorthand common vectors have acquired names. For consistency and to show that vectors are active processes, we think these names should (as a rule) be of the form:

Verb + Noun Phrase

IDENTIFY a desired Outcome
IDENTIFY evidence for a desired Outcome happening
IDENTIFY a metaphor from a feeling
IDENTIFY a metaphor from a nonverbal
IDENTIFY a metaphor from a concept
IDENTIFY what is problematic
IDENTIFY an Explanation
IDENTIFY a Child Within

DEVELOP a desired Outcome perception
DEVELOP a Resource perception
DEVELOP a Remedy perception
DEVELOP a Problem perception

EXPLORE the effects of a desired Outcome happening
ELICIT a sequence
MATURE a change
SOURCE a Resource

We define the most common vector-verbs as:

Stage* Vector Definition
1 Identify Make known, put a name to, establish, make out, discern, distinguish
Elicit  Draw out, extract, bring out, bring into the foreground
2 Develop Elaborate, give form to, bring forth
Select Pick out from a number of, single out, opt for, decide on, settle on
Explore Investigate, find out what’s there, look into, search
Trial, assess, (re)examine, check out
Find: origin, instigator or ‘from whence it came’, root, beginning, genesis
Encourage Prompt, foster, cultivate
Mature Evolve, develop, extend, follow effects, ripen, bring to fruition, grow up
5 Evaluate Assess, compare/contrast, weigh up, rate, appraise

* The stage where this class of vector would typically be applied in The Five Stage Process (described in Metaphors in Mind).

 »  Home  »  Modelling  »  How to Model  »  Vectoring and Systemic Outcome Orientation
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