August 12, 2013

Modeling Excellence Series #16

Earlier this year I wrote 15 articles in the “Modeling Excellence” series and ended that with the one back on May 27. Recently in a training someone asked, “When is modeling ineffective? What would be an example of an ineffectively modeling of some excellence?” At the moment of the question I did not have a poignant example, but now I do.

A number of years ago after Southwest Airlines demonstrated their excellence in creating a low-budget airline that stayed profitable and kept growing during the same time that every other airline in the US was suffering declines and losses, if not going through bankruptcy. So both United Airlines and Delta attempted to model what Southwest was doing and enter into the market as competitors. So both launched subsidiaries to compete with the Southwest’s business model. United invented “TED” which I often flew between Grand Junction and Denver. Yet while they were certainly able to copy the system, they were not able to actually model the excellence that distinguished Southwest.

That is, they were able to copy the planes, the processes, quick turn-arounds at airports, etc. but they were not able to model and replicate Southwest’s values or spirit. Southwest is known for their entrepreneurship, fun, and love and the airline trades under the ticker symbol LUV. They were the airline which first introduced humor in something as serious as the safety instructions given just before a flight takes off. They added little comments like, “If you haven’t been in a car since 1970,
here’s how a seat belt works.” So while United and Delta airlines could model the externals-what Southwest does, they could not model the spirit by which Southwest employees do what they do. Given their cultures, they could not model the culture.

This explains, I think, much of NLP modeling which has failed to be effective. People have examined and modeled the structure of some experience and have fully identified all of the external steps, actions, and responses required to be able to do whatever some high performer or expert is able to do. But they missed something. They did not get the internal stuff- the spirit of the expert. They did not capture the expert’s attitudes, values, principles, understandings, beliefs, decisions, identity, permissions, and frames of mind.

So what’s the problem? The problem is that while Neuro-Linguistic Program is superb at detailing the behaviors of an experience and some of the first-level frames of mind- beliefs, it is not equipped to flush out the multiple layers of self-reflexive frames. And why? Simple. The classic NLP strategy model does not include a model for modeling the systemic self-reflexivity of human consciousness. NLP is excellent for detailing the linear strategy of the visual, auditory, and kinesthetic steps in “thinking and “feeling.”

This explains why NLP needs the Meta-States Self-Reflexivity Model. That’s because above and beyond the strategy model, and each piece of the strategy model, are additional layers of reflexive thoughts-and-feelings and for each one of those are additional hidden layers. And it is the Meta-States model that is designed to identify these layers that hide within, above, and behind these “thoughts” whether they are beliefs, decisions, identities, permissions, prohibitions, understandings, etc.

Now, systemically when these layers combine they gestalt to create additional phenomena that are more than and different from the sum of the parts. Within human consciousness, they gestalt into attitudes-higher level frames of mind that hold together a synergy of multiple beliefs. And because of this, using the Meta-States model we can model the structure of an attitude to identify the spirit of the expert.

Here then is the difference that makes the difference within so many experiences. That is, above and beyond what the top achiever does is his or her attitude or spirit that actually drives the experience. It is the person’s spirit that endows the experience with the certain quality that takes it to a new level and gives it the quality that we are actually seeking to model.

The point is that our modeling will be ultimately ineffective if we do not get both the what and the why. The what is the performance, even when it is the micro-performance of the actions that make up the activity. The why is made up of lots of things:

  •  The intention behind it, which is made up of the values or significance and which answers the why question. “Why are you doing that? What’s your intention?”
  • The principles and understandings governing one’s assumptive frames about how it works and how to carry it off.
  • The aspirations of one’s vision about the meaningfulness of the activity.

The point is that to unpack the expert’s attitude or spirit requires the ability to enter into his or her matrix of multiple meanings or meta-states that galvinize the person’s robust state. This explains why we really cannot, or should not, use NLP as mere technology- as merely a set of techniques. To be a technician alone will only model out the external activities as United and Delta did with Southwest and entirely miss the inner “culture” of the company. To model the culture, the inner spirit and attitude of the people who add the quality to the activity, we have to use a model that can handle the non-linear, systemic self-reflexivity of the human
subjective experience- the Meta-States Model.

For books on Meta-States, see www.neurosemantics.com and click Products.

For the APG Trainings that Introduces Meta-States, click Trainings and then APG.

L. Michael Hall, Ph.D.