005: Scoping, with Caitlin Walker

We talk with Caitlin Walker about Clean Scoping – preparing for a Systemic Modelling engagement.

The course Caitlin references is no longer available.

Catherine Daley
Caitlin Walker

Transcript

Simon
Hi welcome to conversations in clean from Amphora Solutions. I’m Simon Coles. And with me is Catherine Daley. In this episode we’ll be talking with Caitlin Walker. Caitlin Hello What’s going on.

Caitlin
Well we’ve just unexpectedly I mean we had this podcast planned and unexpectedly I was given an opportunity to go and do some live clean scoping and Catherine’s come along with me. And so we thought let’s switch the original material and let’s talk about what’s just happened. Which is clean scoping with a new client.

Simon
So just before we dive in then what’s clean scoping?

Caitlin
So clean scoping is a term that I use to describe what I do and when I very first meet a client and before we go in and facilitate cleanly the group and teach them systemic modelling or use systemic modelling to solve a problem. So clean scoping is the kinds of behaviours and activities that go on when I’m trying to work out what would the client like to have happen; and whether I think that this approach will be useful, acceptable for that client. So it’s partly me scoping their needs but also me deciding whether or not I’d like to work with them.

Simon
So just to refresh my memory then, the many many years ago that we first met. Did you do clean scoping on me and what?

Caitlin
Yes so on that first telephone call I was stood in the room behind me. You were down in Oxfordshire. Yeah. And I’m listening to what you’ve got to say, what you’d like to have happen and listen to the way that you’re talking about it, the way that you’re talking about your staff. And so as I listen I’m coding referring back to our last podcast and coding not just what you’d like but also your attitude to the people involved and I’m working out what do I need to do with you, what could I do with them. And I’m holding it all very lightly so that I then when I meet them I work out whether what you thought needed to have happened actually is what needs to happen.

Catherine
And when you’re holding it really lightly. What would I be seeing or hearing when you’re holding it really lightly.

Caitlin
Do you know I’m not sure what you’d see or hear. I don’t know that you could tell a difference because what I’d be doing is listening to what you say, accepting it. If you’re speaking in inference I’ll be asking, OK, so, when they’re not engaged what do you see or hear that lets you know they’re not engaged? So I’m not challenging you, just accepting it. That’s the inference what’s the evidence. I’ll always be asking for impact, so when they’re not engaged, and you know that they’re not engaged because they come in just before they have to start and they leave bang on the minute that the day ends for you that they’re not engaged what’s the impact.
Well I don’t trust them I don’t want to grow the company with them in it like that. Ah, OK so I’m holding it lightly I’m going, OK, that is what they’ve seen and heard they call it this. That’s the impact for them. But that’s not necessarily the truth. It’s just their perception at this moment. So I don’t think it’s still going to be true when we’ve done a bit of work and my allegiance is to information gathering not to whatever the person says they want.

Simon
So I guess because it’s your first interaction with the group you don’t know what’s true or what isn’t. You’re just getting information because it could be the people you’re talking to well they’re talking from their own perspective.

Caitlin
Yeah I mean even the idea of truth.
What I’m doing is I’m thinking well that’s interesting. I wonder I wonder what else might be going on here. I wonder what else might be the case. I wonder if they’ve got a value that they’re holding tightly which means they’re projecting this onto their staff or a just I wonder. It’s very well that’s interesting, I wonder what else.
With a piece of work that Catherine and I went to today. I first spoke to him to the guy who’s commissioning it yesterday and I’m listening to him. His issue is that he has a team where there’s some contempt within it. And it’s very very important to him in his organization that that nobody treats anybody with contempt. So one of the things I’m listening for is how does he speak about them. Because if he speaks about them with contempt then I know he’s part of the problem. That what he’d like to have happen, he’s not an example of it and so it helps that part of that clean set up at the very very beginning helps me decide helps me code what their position in all of this is and do I need to work on them before I can work on anybody else. Or are they congruent with what they’ve said that they’d like to have happen in which case I can take my attention off them somewhat and put it straight to their team cases.

Simon
So sometimes there’s an element of yes Mr. Boss man but actually we need to have a little chat about you first before we go talk to the team.

Caitlin
Absolutely. And that’s that’s happens regularly. So regularly I listen very carefully. I’ll go and do a little bit of scoping with the wider team and then I’ll come back to the commissioner the boss and say Okay I’ll tell you what I’m noticing they’re doing this they’re doing this you say you’d like X Y and Z but actually you’re doing a b and c and here’s my evidence for it. And at the moment you’re not an example of what you’d like your staff to do and therefore let’s go and work on that first; work out how do you change your your attitude or your behaviour and then what we learn from that that first iteration will help us shape the way we work with your team

Catherine
and is that an example of initial scoping?

Caitlin
That’s initial scoping, yes.

Catherine
And is there any other examples of like from our session today?

Caitlin
So what are the other things I’ll be scoping for in the very initial scoping is the sort of do you want me to parachute in a parachute out. Makes it less likely that I’ll move things around to my schedule to do it. But one of the things that he said was and by the way I think that this will be an investment in my training and I don’t know what to do next with this team and so if we come in and learn this then I’m hoping that then I’ll I’ll have those skills and be able to use them in the rest of my work and I go tick sustainability tick, congruence tick, lack of drama tick, humility – so at some point he said go out sometimes I’ve made interventions and he said I’m I don’t really know what I’m doing. And sometimes I think I might have made it worse. You go tick.
So those are all my boxes for is this a client who can take on systemic modelling in a sustainable way.

Simon
Are they your personal list of things that you Caitlin want to have in your life because that’s the work you wanna do or is it requirements for systemic modelling success.

Caitlin
It’s requirements of systemic modelling success which, well both. Otherwise it’s like I’ve created a model that does match my values.

Simon
Well yeah but other people could say take the systemic modelling skill set and maybe go and work with people who didn’t tick all the boxes in a certain way yes.

Caitlin
Yes.
So it’s not that I couldn’t work with somebody who doesn’t tick all the boxes but that was all the boxes for not only, can you, are you someone I want to work with but you’re actually somebody who might take this on and keep it.
So it’s a sustainable client rather than a parachute in and parachute out.
No. No. Not everyone has to do all of it.
And for example I might find that they’re very incongruent. But then when I give them that feedback and they go oh my goodness yeah I’m incongruent. That’s interesting I wonder why that is. You go able to take on feedback that takes a different box. So there’s lots of ways out of it.
You know it’s not a stick to beat people with, it’s a coaching template to see where I need to pay attention.

Catherine
And is there anything that needs to happen before you even have an initial scoping session.

Caitlin
Oh no no. I mean anyone can have one of them.

Catherine
And then what happens?

Caitlin
So then you’ve got to make a decision. So by asking them a few questions you know you’ve got a very good move some of them – must be a word for it.
You know in the network I’ve only got one data point.
Simon
You’ve got one node

Caitlin
I’ve got one node so I know I don’t have a broad I don’t have a system data yet.
So I’ve got to make a decision based on a very slim line. So one of the decisions was do I talk to the whole team at once or do I talk to the chief of the head of the team at once. You’ve got to be careful because as happened lots of times before if you go in hierarchical order and one of the people in that hierarchy is someone that other people are against then you come in behind them and you’ll set yourself up to fail against it. It’s very important when you do in the clean scoping that you’re seen as an advocate for each person in that team, so deciding who you speak to first can have a big impact.

Catherine
And how do you navigate who to speak to first?

Caitlin
In this situation I think if it’s about it’s about trying to anticipate who would you put in drama more if you immediately spoke to the group and not to the head of the group that would be more damage then if you just picked the head of the group first and then speak to the whole group and I decided to do it that way round just but to be honest you don’t really know. It’s a bit of a chance.

Simon
But you’re also sending a signal who goes first tells the rest of the group what’s important.

Caitlin
Yes. And if the conflict lets just say which it certainly has been a lots of times before there was a one that we did up in Scotland where the person in charge of the group was the major problem.
And I had a bit of a heads up about that.
And so my choice was not to scope the project with them. My choice was to immediately go to team level because because of my initial scoping, in this case that wasn’t the case.
So it was polite it was etiquette to go to the head of the team and tell them first and put them in a heads up position about what we were going to do with their wider team. I think it would have been, it would have undermined them if I hadn’t.

So then today we went to see the head of the team and lovely little things, we were we thought we only had 15 minutes. And so before we went in with planned what questions we’re to ask.
I was hoping that we’re going to have half an hour so I’d planned half an hour’s worth of questions but when we arrived they said oh no we’ve just got 15 minutes it’s okay.
So what I’m doing in my head is I’m narrowing the questions. And then what we do is we go. I just say well right now it’s a bit like what. But now the team’s a bit like what. And immediately again we’re coding. So they say it’s a great team great group.
You go Okay so you said okay. Coding appreciation what kind of great appreciation coding inference. What kind of great, what lets you know that they’re a great team? you know they get on with, what they’ve got to do I don’t have to tell them anything. Okay great. And so what’s working really well about them go through a bit of that. What’s not working so well then you get a little bit of the drama, the issue. But again what I’m listening for is how does this person hold the group.

How are they responding to it.
Are they able to separate evidence from inference. And it might take me three or four goes to try and get them to do that, if they can’t do it, I go okay. That sort of thing goes over to one side and I go that’s something that we’ll need to work on. So it’s not just coding but it’s as I as I ask the different things. What do I put over there?

Simon
So you’re doing a whole bunch of stuff in this discovery meeting that I haven’t heard you talk about before in terms of you are deploying what could very well be a set of well-worn you know fairly standard questions to get the lay of the land and the lay of that person

Caitlin
Yep the lay of the land the lay of that person, the aspirations the way they hold the problem the way they held themselves what they think is possible.
You know as I say, OK so just imagine that I was able to wave a wand and you know the miracle question and everything else it just disappears.
I’m listening for do they think that’s possible I do think you need to learn coding before you can do the next bit so you need to be.
I’m not listening to everything that that person says

Simon
Coding is reducing the complexity

Caitlin
yes, hugely

Simon
but it’s the model you’re using you’re coding to model. And I’m not sure I’ve heard that model before.

Caitlin
I don’t think that it’s very different from what I’m coding when I’m with a whole group.
it’s because it’s just coding for information I’m not necessarily at this point coding for action so because I’ve coded for inference I’ll ask for evidence but I’m not trying to change their behavior I’m not trying to teach them particularly I’m just

Simon
But you are looking for stuff.

Caitlin
Yeah I’m looking for it. If it’s a problem, is it drama, where are they in the drama triangle. If it’s an outcome, is it desired outcome or is it something that they want to do that they are doing something about. If it’s what’s their brain state.
And so the coding that we did today I thought was very much an outcome positive hopeful mammalian to near cortical brain state for the work

Catherine
relationship with self was a bit delusional

Caitlin
Yes and struggling a little bit with you know the motivation to work. It was clear that the relationships in the workplace what were taking their toll.
And I’m also coding for, do they want something good to happen and clearly do they really want everything to work out

Simon
And how would you code for this person as part of the problem or this person might need some personal work before we go any further.

Caitlin
Yes so I code the patterns of the person and then I just put them somewhere.

And go we’ll need to keep an eye on that.

Catherine
And today we met the manager and then we met the team quite soon after.
And you set the scene about you and what you do and the work. So it’s like a light touch introduction too, because it again it was quite a constrained piece of time.

Caitlin
Yeah that team and it’s quite I think I’ve saying before we were doing the planning for it as saying that when you’re working one to one you are very much information gathering I say as little as I have to to get the information out of them, but working in a, in the team I can’t.

You do have to do some credibility building. You do need, you do understand that this has been going on a while and the team needs to be clear that actually you are capable of doing something about it because you’ve probably got about a minute a minute and a half to win them over and if you take longer than that, they’ll go yes, you’ll come in and no good will come of this. Yes.

Simon
That’s interesting. The same thing happened to me yesterday in the sales call we had in that normally I would hang back and ask questions and ask questions but one or two questions in it was fairly clear that I was going to need to give them some expertise. They were they were slightly off track and they were never going to be able to get what they wanted. So I did pack in five minutes of expertise stuff which I wouldn’t normally put in there to then give me the credibility too.

Caitlin
Yes I did similar thing this afternoon.

Simon
What you do in scoping a lot of people will call sales and project scoping or project management and so at one level I’m seeing a lot of resonance from stuff that I would see in a very conventional fields. But what’s interesting for me is you and you know project failures don’t happen when the failure happens they happen six steps ahead of time when you didn’t set expectations properly. So what we’re seeing when we’re talking about scoping is yes we’re hearing you using clean language to do the back end of the sales process and lay the groundwork for a successful customer engagement but that list of rules you’ve got.
Which you you’ve spoken a little bit about by then we’ve got the full list yet. That’s what’s required to be able to go in and go, this is going to be a success.

Caitlin
Yes. You’re you’re managing expectations. Catherine would have heard me say over and over again to people. The truth of it is I have no idea if we can fix this or not. And actually I have no idea what you want. Do you know it might be this kind of issue or this kind of issue or do you know it might be unsolvable. So there’s there’s that level of expectations but there’s also. There was a lovely example where the commissioner came in and said something like and you know it’s going to be very important that the team are receptive to change because if we’re going to make change happen they have to be receptive to it. And he caught my eye and I caught his eye and he’s like oh that’s not very clean is it? And then later we were able to to talk about how come that wasn’t very clean because.
It’s to do with that.
It’s true for teams to change they need to be receptive but to put that out at this stage it’s not that it’s not the stage to do it a team will become receptive because you’ve created the conditions that they are receptive. It is not their job to be receptive because you told them it was time for them to be receptive nobody got more receptive by being told it was time for them to be.

Simon
Yeah you know it’s like being told calm down.

Caitlin
Yes calm down. And so there is something in the clean scoping which is where you are still just like clean language with a one to one person you are still you might start to form your hypotheses but you keep them to yourself. Or there’s yes you don’t put them out there because then that creates resistance, something in the clean scoping is about not creating resistance in the team early on.

Simon
I don’t think I’ve ever heard you mention hypothesis. That you formed in clean scoping you’ll go, you’re in the room you’ll go can I tell you what I’m noticing. And you’ll bring the evidence that turned up in the room but I don’t think I’ve ever heard you until now heard you refer to anything that came up

Caitlin
and they’ll always be lightly held hypotheses.
His wasn’t a lightly held one okay. He was so clear that it came out of his mouth. I might have a few but I put them to one side.

Catherine
It’s something I’ve noticed. Having gone on a sales visit with Simon yesterday and with you today is that something you both do is that you’re also scoping the environment in which the meeting is happening. So Simon was taking note of Oh this is an old building and blah de-blah-de-blah. And you mentioned that you’re also doing that.

Caitlin
Yes I’m going Oh yeah. This is the way people treat each other. Oh okay. This is the way the thing the murmuring happens in the background. Oh. Who meets you who meets you on your way there. How do they speak to each other. Do they whisper. Mm hmm. You know they tell you little secrets or do they speak with open mouths you know all of those little things I clock.

Simon
Who arrives in the room and whether eye rolling when it happens.
Mm hmm. Yeah.

Catherine
Well even before that is just the environment.
Oh yeah. But literally the building

Simon
And I was lightly holding it because I know it could be wrong.
So then in my case I went to you know because we were in a what was a very old building clearly an old ex ICI thing that it was almost derelict and become a science park. So either you get companies in there who are looking for the cheapest possible accommodation or small fast growth companies and you are treated completely differently. So it’s like Okay we’re here. What does this mean.

Caitlin
I wonder which kind of thing this is

Simon
So you’re like your first couple of questions you know just like will help – how long have you been here. You know nice building

Caitlin
that’s that’s that would be the same as my hypothesis holding.
The more sort of.
Like a path you know do we go this way do we go that way is it this kind of thing or is it that kind of thing.
So with the team we saw so when we saw the team you’re not asking questions to gather lots of information. You’ve got a couple of minutes to make your pitch. And so what I’m doing is this is me this is what I do. This is a little bit of the background but in your pitch I’m also keeping in mind everything I’ve heard from my initial conversation and scoping I’ve just done with the chief and this is the thing that we were talking about imposition. So I don’t go the opposite of non imposition the imposition would be and you know everything that you say of course is confidential because some of you gonna want to say some things to me that you’re not going to want to say to each other. That would be what I’d call imposition where you take an idea and you impose on them. In the cleaner way of doing that here which is where you give them more space is where you go and do you know during these interviews there’s gonna be absolute confidentiality and that’s because do you know what sometimes people want to say something and they say it to you but then when they read it they go after you know I don’t want my colleagues know and I think that. And so you just take it out, I’ll know it, but be taken out
and if for example that because we had a senior manager in the room I said for example if I said the reason I don’t want to work with senior managers because he’s got dreadful B.O. I might want to tell you that as an interviewer but I don’t want him to know that I said that that’s private. I mean it’s a joke and I’m being funny but what I’m doing is I’m ticking off their potential need to know how this is going to be but I’m not imposing my labels on their needs.

Simon
So in systemic modelling trainings we start out with what would I like to know before we begin you can’t do that because of time constraints and also I guess permission it’s not a training course but you have again a set in your head of things which people will mostly have in their mind. And as part of your initial conversation you’re making sure you’ve given them enough evidence to tick it off.

Caitlin
Absolutely.

Catherine
And anything else about any of that.

Caitlin
Well having just done this little exercise it’s been so interesting having Catherine around and knowing that the commissioning leader wants to learn it as we go along. We thought it might be quite fun to make this into a little training group. Is to create a little maybe five or six person training group. And formally teach clean scoping because it’s around it is in the training but we don’t formally teach it and actually it’s a it’s quite a skill.

Simon
Yeah. So it’s a thing of it’s own

Caitlin
It is a thing of its own. And I think you can learn it without learning systemic modelling. You have to understand. I don’t know maybe you can or you can’t. But I think it’s a thing you can do without doing systemic modelling and I think some people might never want to facilitate a group but they could be really good strong scopers before a project.

Simon
It’s the crossover between clean sales and clean. You know and systemic modeling essentially.

Caitlin
Yeah. Where clean interviewing systemic modelling and clean sales meet.

Simon
Yeah. I mean if you had a production line you know you would have a bunch of sales guys going out and doing it and they would probably do clean scoping and then hand it off to trainers to go and do the specific days.

Caitlin
Well I do tell you what’s interesting. As we grew we being myself and the people learning system modelling. I struggle to go in and do systemic modelling when somebody else did the scoping

Simon
I was going to ask about somebody else doing it.

Caitlin
And that’s because now I don’t know if that’s true for everyone and I think you could do this to scale. You couldn’t do it but it’s for me when I do the clean scoping I guess lots of it’s been unconscious but I do a lot of parking and noting and that parking and noting of patterns and of the of the codes that come back to me is how I shape my intervention and it’s what gives me the credibility when I’ve got the group in front of me. I can I can refer to all of the shared open language and I can feedback patterns really well like that.

Simon
Yeah. Because it’s not only you it’s what’s going on with the client. And I think you’re gaining credibility in the client which nobody else will have.

Caitlin
Yes. And when somebody else has done the scoping then give me the interviews I look at it and go. That’s.

Simon
But it’s very typical. If we lose a sales guy. Or person salesperson we will lose almost all those deals because for whatever reason they didn’t document it well enough so we didn’t know what the issues were. Maybe it’s unconscious maybe we didn’t have the credibility with the client but you can kiss goodbye to the entire pipe.

Catherine
There’s the relationship as well. So what I saw very clearly today is that you were doing it.
You were doing systemic modelling because I said Oh when you’re talking about training as a thing. Is that training or is that systemic modelling is it. And you said no no that’s systemic modelling as training and you were also being and doing, you were systemic modelling personified.

Caitlin
I know you said afterwards you said, you accepted all of that information without any joining in, any celebration and any Ooh. no it’s it’s a very very neutral process but they become it’s clear to them that they’re being listened to and accepted and extended.
But for me there’s no just like when you join a group you’re very neutral.

Catherine
So it seems that it’s just whenever you meet someone for because you’ve got systemic modelling and people are meeting you as Caitlin Walker it doesn’t change, every interaction you have will have that flavour and approach.

Simon
And every interaction at work. I think we discussed last time, are you doing this all time or is it only at work.

Caitlin
Yeah yeah yeah. And in any professional engagements like this it’s the way we do things around here

Simon
Clean scoping is is a big part of a successful systemic modelling engagement it’s a different skill set.

Caitlin
Do you know it is a different skill set.
And just because I’m doing all of these things simultaneously all of these different things simultaneously and I’m unconsciously competent at it. I remember that Jacqueline Ann Surin read my book and looked at the chapter on clean scoping and went right I’m gonna do that. And she just did it. And of course there’s loads of those things I’m talking about all the coding and stuff she wasn’t doing that because she didn’t know what it was and she hadn’t had the training yet. She just followed what was in the book and did it and she did it really well. So. A little bit like systemic modelling you can just do a clean setup you can just do clean feedback all of those things are building blocks you can still build stuff and you’ll be fine and be nice and safe.
Of course when you learn how to build that and this and the other that’s a different level and when you can not only build them but then teach the group to build them themselves. That’s another level. But you don’t have to be able to be like that in order to be successful on your journey.

Simon
Probably in the scoping thing you’re doing a lot of things which you know will make your life easier for the next six months work.

SPEAKER: F3
I mean I know if I don’t say this now. So for example if I say I’m going to interview you all and then create a shared model of what you say they’ll go Oh but I’m not going to tell you anything then, well who’s going to see it, are the management going to see it. So you might as well just say it straight off it’ll be completely confidential to you and I in fact do you know what. Even though he’s here he’s not even going to get a chance to see it because you know what. I don’t have anyone who’s in my interviews thinking oh I wonder what the management are gonna think of this. I just want you to tell me what it’s like from your perspective and that sort of talking obliquely. Um not saying you but you know a person in my interviewing gives them the space to decide whether or not that applies to them. But it’s. But if I don’t say that at least a bunch of them will then go away and go Well I’m not gonna tell them anything because it’s you haven’t covered that safety point.

Simon
Yeah.

So one thing I’m interested in this was all done a little bit ad hoc and I think dropped Catherine off to go and play with Caitlin on about 15 minutes notice you have with each other. So I’m just interested what it was like for both of you because I don’t think you’ve worked together before. So what was that like.

Catherine
I didn’t do anything. I just listened and took notes.

Caitlin
I think it’s very clear that you’ve got to say what your relationship is so there’s no way on earth I could do what I was doing and take care of Catherine. So I said to her I’d like you to come in, so I had to give her a very clear, I’d like you to come in. Keep notes for the process in order to learn about it but don’t get involved. You can watch and learn. You can ask some questions afterwards. Please don’t get involved. What was I don’t know what that was how that was for you?

Catherine
Yeah, it was really clear what I was doing. I was. I did not feel it was. It’s not my gig. Why would I get in you know being there was a privilege but it’s not my gig. They’re not my group. I’m not gonna be working with them. It was just there was no logic whatsoever for me to have any involvement in any of that process.

Caitlin
So watch this space I think we’ll put together this into a little training format.
And then when we know more will do another podcast maybe in six to nine months we’ll go Oh well all that stuff we said then, actually the really important bit is this, that we haven’t told you about that yet.

Catherine
Caitlin thank you so very much for your time.

Caitlin
You’re welcome. It’s been really a really found both today and this and the last coding podcast on this one really interesting because of course we’re at the edge of what I know how to teach I know how to do it but I don’t know how to teach it.
So it’s really interesting for me too.

Simon
Thank you very much.

Catherine
Thank you.

1 comment on “005: Scoping, with Caitlin Walker
  1. Sarah says:

    I love these pictures!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *