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A Systemic approach to change

A bit of history

Clean Language is devised by David Grove. He was a psychologist specialized in working with clients suffering from trauma.
He did research into what the effect was of the question on the client. In his research he discovered that when words would be used in the questions that weren’t coming from the client, this often resulted in a disruption of the client’s process. It would take the client out of their mental model or metaphor landscape. It would cause the client to move their attention to the question being asked of them instead of keeping it on the process at hand.

His research to this effect has lead to the development of Clean Language and the Clean Questions. This is in essence a set of questions that are aimed to cause the least amount of disruption for the client, whilst still being able to ask questions and in turn discover their mental model of metaphor landscape.

When Caitlin Walker became aware of David Grove and his work, it intrigued her so much that she started working together with David. She wanted to know how she could teach others to use this simple and highly effective manner of asking questions. In her own way of learning of Clean Language she started using this in groups of people, at first with children and later with adults. She noticed that when people learn about different through their curiosity, they would also start to understand how things work. Not only for themselves, but also for others in the group. This resulted that people would stand up for others in the group, as they would be aware that continuing would not work for them given their models.

She wrote a book about her work with Clean Language, the children and also with businesses, it is called “From Contempt to Curiosity”. It tells the tale of her journey of discovery of working with groups and the development of what she has named Systemic Modelling.

Caitlin's book: From Contempt to Curiosity

Pascal on Clean Language

To me Clean Language, similar to Agile, is more of a mindset or a way of begin than anything else. It has become a part of me, not that I’m clean all the time, but it is there right beneath the surface, close at hand, always there when I need it.

Ultimately it’s a tool set of exercises and behaviors that can be used in a way that will elicit information in a very effective manner, both known and unknown information.

Often we call this unknown information “emergent knowledge”. The experience of saying something that I have never said or thought of in such a way before. This is something very familiar to me and one of the best things that I get out of Clean Language.

This “emergent knowledge” is like a piece of a puzzle that lands just in the right place to complete the puzzle. Something that will bring some kind of insight or will combine two or more things for me in such a way that it becomes more clear to me.

With Clean Language we strife to bring in the least amount of our models into our questions and we try to be continually aware of this. This results in us making less assumptions, or at least we try to use our curiosity to double check our inferences. Having this stance is becoming increasingly more important for me, it helps me to be a better listener, to have more understanding for other’s opinions and to see value in the differences we have in our ideas.


Whe have developed a training to support existing teams with finding their own Agile way of working, by means of Clean Language and Systemic Modelling. By observing how the team is working now and using Clean Interviewing we discern what the team needs. And we teach them simple tools and techniques so they can change what is needed in their Agile way of working themselves.

We also offer training to other trainers and coaches that work with teams (Scrum Masters, Agile Coaches etc) in similar simple techniques that they can use to effectivly support their teams.

Read more bout our trainings.

Clean Language NL @ Meetup

Clean Language Practice Group NL

Once per month we organize an online Dutch practice group through meetup.com. Our purpose is the offer people an opportunity to improve their group facilitation skills. By applying the skills that are needed for group facilitation and off course we try to make it interesting as well in a way that the topic will result in something of value. This topic can be something we use in different exercises or it can be a model of some kind like: Clean Feedback, Clean Set Up, the Drama Triangle or the Triune Brain.

By creating a safe space where we can practice together and learn from one another. How things work for you and how that differs from others. Giving each other Clean Feedback and conducting experiments.

For more info please visit us at meetup.com

Clean in a Box

Sometimes we need something physical. Clean in a Box is a card deck created in such a way that they help with practicing Clean Language and Clean Questions.

This deck consists of a total of 54 cards. 18 different colour coded Clean Questions (in varying amounts per question, 39 cards in total). 12 cards with short descriptions of 12 deferent exercises all developed by Marian Way and Caitlin Walker. These exercises have been developed by them so the cards can be used during their practice groups, so these are ideal for just that. 3 instructions cards and a reference card for the colour coding.

The original Clean in a Box card deck is published by Clean Learning. This Dutch version published by us under license and can be ordered from us. The translation is done by Michael Oskam and Pascal Clarkson.

The cost of Clean in een Doos (so the Dutch version) is € 25.00 including 21% VAT and excluding shipping.

Pascal Clarkson

Who am I?

Isn’t that the age old question and what an interesting road to discovery to “know thyself”.

Pascal Clarkson has a bachelor degree in computer science. After years of working as a software engineer and having 8+ years of practical experience with the Scrum Framework, he has decided to shift his attention towards group facilitation. To support groups in their own discovery of how they can become the best version of themselves and their team. He has experience with many different tools, methods and frameworks e.g. Scrum, Sociocracy 3.0, Systemic Modelling, Liberating Structures and Clean Language, he sees himself as a Systemic Change Facilitator, you can ask him what that means.

“Each step forward (or backward) is in essence a change.”


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