The Art of Strengths Coaching

M is for Making Models That Make Sense Of Things

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People love to learn from experience. They love to see patterns, simplify these and pass on this knowledge to other people.

How to make this happen? One way is to make models that help others to succeed. Good models often embody elements of good design. They are simple – in a profound way – satisfying and successful. Let explore these themes.

Good Models Are Simple

Good teachers make complicated things appear simple. Sometimes this simplicity summarises many years of studying events in their chosen field. They may be studying psychology, health, science, art, wellbeing, peak performance or whatever.

Different people use different approaches to studying events and sharing knowledge. Some go through the following steps.

They study what is actually happening.

They see patterns that keep recurring.

They simplify the patterns in a profound way and pass on knowledge that helps others to succeed.

Different people study different topics. They may aim to study a specific branch of athletics, architecture, engineering, medicine, science or whatever.

Looking at my own life, I have wanted to understand how people succeed. This has involved studying individuals, teams and organisations in many walks of life. How did they achieve their picture of success?

What did people do right to succeed? What were their successful patterns? What were their unsuccessful patterns? How did people build on the successful patterns and manage any unsuccessful ones?

How could other people use this knowledge? How could they integrate and use it in their own ways? How could people achieve ongoing success?

“Simplicity is genius,” we are told. You will have your own approach to making complicated things simple. If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe a specific field of activity in which you would like to make sense of experience and pass on a model to people.

Describe the specific things you can do to study what is happening in the activity and see patterns.

Describe the specific things you can do to simplify in a profound way the knowledge you have gained.

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Good Models Are Satisfying

Good models are satisfying on several levels. They help people to understand experience and this can give them a sense of satisfaction.

Sometimes the model itself is aesthetically satisfying. It looks, feels or sounds right. James Watson and Francis Crick highlighted this factor when describing their discovery of DNA.

They said that the model was: “so beautiful it had to be true.” Writing to his son Michael, Crick said:

Jim Watson and I have probably made a most important discovery. We have built a model for the structure of de-oxy-ribose-nucleic-acid (read it carefully) called D.N.A. for short.

Our structure is very beautiful. D.N.A. can be thought of roughly as a very long chain with flat bits sticking out.

Sometimes it takes a long time to sift the information until the model takes form. It can be like chipping away at a piece of granite until the right form takes shape.

Some designers quote Antoine St. Exupery to describe the process. He said that perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

Imagine that you have studied a field of activity in which you want to pass on a model to people. You have seen patterns and put together the knowledge in a profound way.

Building on what you have learned, try tackling the exercise on this theme. Describe how you can summarise the knowledge you have gained and create a model that is satisfying.

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Good Models Help
People To Succeed

People who design good models share some characteristics with educators. They want to pass on knowledge that helps other people to succeed.

Educators try to make the learning personal, practical and profitable.

Personal – It must relate to the person and their goals.

Practical – It must be practical and provide tools that help the person to reach their goals.

Profitable – It must be, in the widest sense, profitable and help the person to achieve their goals.

There are many ways to help others. One approach is to create models that make sense of experience and share these in a way that people can use in their daily lives and work.

Imagine that you have created a model that makes complicated things simple. How can you pass on this knowledge?

If you wish, try tackling the final exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe how you can do your best to ensure the model helps people to succeed.

Describe the specific benefits of sharing the model with people and helping them to succeed.

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