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4. Add-on's

4.1 Other ways to start
4.2 Making use of other spaces
4.3 Turning


Clean Start

While devising his Emergent Knowledge processes David Grove experimented with encouraging the space between the client and their statement/drawing to become psychoactive from the outset. He did this through a series of questions which required the client to closely attend to the attributes of the space created by their placements – the location, distance, height, direction or angle:

Once the client has positioned themselves in relation to their statement/drawing you can ask a number of the following questions in any order until the client is sure the spaces are right:

Are you in the right place?

Is that [statement/drawing] in the right place?

Are you at the right height?

Is that [statement/drawing] at the right height?

Are you facing the right direction?

Is that [statement/drawing] facing the right direction?

Are you at the right angle?

Is that [statement/drawing] at the right angle?

Are you at the right distance?

Is that [statement/drawing] at the right distance?

Is the distance between [client and statement/drawing] right?

If the client changes any of the variables – they move themselves or their statement/drawing – ask your question again just to check. You need a couple of congruent ‘yes’ replies before you know that they know that everything is just right. Then you can continue with the Lite process:

        And what do you know from there? 

For examples of Clean Starts in action see:

David and Carol Wilson’s description of a Clean Start in their article Emergent Knowledge and Clean Coaching

Philip Harland and Matthew Hudson’s article 'A Clean Start to the Power of Six' available by registering at their web site:

The chapter on ‘Creating the Network’ in Philip Harland’s forthcoming book, The Power of Six.

Starting with something other than with a statement or drawing

Written statements or drawings are the most common seed for starting Clean Space. However, since you are not going to refer to the content of a client’s statement or drawing, anything that has significance for them can be used as a starting point – be that an object, a sculpting, or a perception (imagined or remembered).

To illustrate this, Example 1 in Section 7 has a transcript of a session that starts with an imagined self.

If a client doesn’t know what to write or draw, and has not suggested any other starting point, we recommend reverting to the old Clean Language favourite:

And what would you like to have happen? 

Whatever the client responds, you can simply say:

Put that down on paper and place it where it needs to be.


In more free-format versions of Clean Space there are several ways to extend the network from the initial six spaces to include:

Spaces between
The statement/drawing space
A meta space
Outside the network

Spaces between

When a client has indicated that the space between two spaces has significance for them you can establish the ‘between space’ in one of two ways:

And go to there [gesture to between the two spaces].

And find a space that knows about between there [gesture] and there [gesture].

Or, if they have given the between space a name (such a ‘link’, ‘dilemma’ or ‘relationship’) you can use their word(s):

And find a space that knows about [their word(s)].

The statement/drawing space

It is worth remembering that the client’s statement or drawing is a node in the network just like any other space. Therefore you are entitled to invite them to go there:

And go to that space [gesture to statement/drawing].

A meta space

Once a network has been established and some of its interconnections explored, you can consider inviting the client to ‘go meta’ to their current knowing with:

And find a space that knows about all of this [sweeping gesture to all existing spaces].
And what do you know from here about all of that?

Note: The shift from ‘this’ to ‘that’ is deliberate.

Outside the network

Similar to a meta space, yet subtlety different is the instruction:

And find a space outside of all this [sweeping gesture to all existing spaces].
And what do you know from here about all of that?

For some clients inviting them to find a space 'that knows about all of this' and 'outside of all this' would produce the same effect; for others their meta perspective might be ‘inside’ the network but at a higher-level of organisation; while their ‘outside’ might be the perspective of an independent observer external to the system. Or plenty of other variations. Fortunately you don’t need to know how the client will process the invitation, just use either one of them and respond to whatever happens.

Soon after he came up with the idea for Clean Space, David Grove started to experiment with the effect on a client of facing in different directions. The simplest way to offer a client the opportunity to experience this kind of effect is to have them turn and face in a different direction and notice what happens. As far as we know, David Grove did not settle on one way to invite a client to turn, so here are a few options:

Turn in either direction.
Turn in another direction.
Turn to face another direction.

And Philip Harland likes:

Turn slowly until you know something else.

Whatever way you initiate the routine, each time the client stops ask:

And what do you know from there?

And continue to turn the client until they return to their original position. Then ask:

And now what do you know?

You then have the possibility of turning them in the opposite direction and repeating the process.

You may be wondering when is it appropriate to ask a client to turn. This has to be an intuitive judgement in the moment informed by cues from the client. The kind of cues you might look for are if the client:

Spontaneously turns their body a little. You can take this as the start of a turning routine and continue turning them in that direction.

Mentions: turn, around, revolve, rotate, spin, roll, twirl, swivel, pivot, circle, wheel, arc, angle, etc.

Appears fixed or transfixed, e.g.

One client went to a space right in the corner of the room and stood facing into the corner. Asking the standard ‘Knowing from a new space’ questions produced short, whispered responses that the facilitator could not hear. The facilitator asked the client to turn and then what they knew in that direction. After four turns the client was back facing into the corner. “And what do you know now?” elicited “I’d be mad to stay facing this way”. The client spontaneously turned through 180 degrees declaring “I’d never have believed it could be so easy to get out of that bloody corner.”

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