Procedure or Result

There is a principle from a subject called Systems Theory that is very applicable to the understanding of processing.

Basically it says that if you want something you can either keep the procedure fixed or the result fixed, but you can't keep both fixed at the same time.

You can lay down a series of steps that constitute a certain procedure. You can decide that that is how things should be done, and you can get people to do it that way. Hopefully it is a procedure that generally produces something useful. However, you can not be sure exactly what it is going to produce. Circumstances are variable so you can never be quite sure what the procedure has to work with or how it turns out.

You could instead decide on a certain result that you want. You pick a desirable outcome and decree that that is what will be produced. Whatever it takes to get there will be done. What exactly it takes to get there can not be known in advance, because the circumstances might vary.

This variability results because the real world is in constant flux. It is never the same and it is always moving. There are certain principles to that movement, but to a typical human being most of it appears as randomity. At least at first glance it is randomity. Upon further inspection we might read more sense into it. But it will still be moving.

In processing we apply some kind of fixed structure to the randomity that we find. The process is the interaction between the fixed structure and the randomity. Truthfully speaking we also do the opposite: we apply randomities to the fixed structures that we find. At any rate, the action comes out of fixedness meeting movement.

If we try to freeze both the procedure and the result we aren't dealing with the real world any more. It is possible in the mind as an ideal situation. It ain't happening in the dynamic reality that we share.

Let's say that I had worked out a procedure for opening the window in the room I am in. It might go like this: "Stand up, walk 10 steps forward, turn left, walk 5 steps forward, turn right, walk 1 step forward, lift right hand up to the height of the eyes, extend it to its full length, grab the handle with thumb and index finger, turn handle clockwise 1/2 a turn, push window." I might test it out and find that it works fine for me. But what if I left those instructions for my wife as something she should do while I was out. She might be starting off from a different chair pointing in a different direction, her steps would be a different length, as would her arm. She would end up out in the refrigerator turning over a bottle of milk, mystified about what I meant. It wouldn't make it much better if I had written at the bottom of the note: "And now the window must be open".

My wife knows how to open windows so it would have been a lot easier to leave a note saying "Open the window if it gets too hot". If she didn't know about windows I would show her a bunch of them first and teach her how they usually are opened.

The main reason I am bringing this up here is that there are older schools of clearing that would believe that certain "correct" procedures would produce invariable results. That approach can be very frustrating for the facilitator, because she usually has to do some hidden tricks to make ends meet. She does the procedure as prescribed and the client is not at the right place. The facilitator then has to either quickly do something to get her there while pretending that nothing is happening, or she has to altogether falsify her report and claim that the client got to the right place. One way or another, it tends to make the facilitator into a criminal. If the facilitator takes everything rather loosely it might work OK. But ironically the more the facilitator is dedicated to doing things precisely and correctly the more she has to develop blind spots for the stuff she is sweeping under the rug.

It is not that there is anything wrong with doing fixed procedures, or with just going for a certain result. It is just that when you mix them without any room for adjustment you would tend to get in trouble. It is much more advisable to be aware of the distinction between procedures and results.

If our client is asking for something specific, it makes the most sense to work towards that. If she wants to have a certain problem handled, then it would be a little silly not to help her with that. What counts is that we help her with what she needs to be helped with, not exactly how we do it. The client won't really care much what kind of technique you use, as long as her issue changes. You can bet she will notice that.

If you keep the result fixed then the procedures will have to change to adjust for variations. The client has a unique situation, there has never been any situation exactly like it. We hopefully have some techniques that are intended for similar situations, but we can't be sure that they are going to work on this particular situation.

Let's say the client is nervous about car driving. We might set as the intended outcome that she has desirable feelings about car driving. To start working on the issue, maybe we start with a list of unblocking keys. The wrong way of thinking about it would be that, when the list is done she will no longer be nervous. There is no way we can know that. Most likely the list will help, it usually does. But we can't be sure of that either. The nervous car driver might need re-experiencing, fixed idea handling, polarity integration, or whatever, before we finally transform her issue to something better.

Now, the really heretical news is that there isn't necessarily anything virtuous about finishing procedures that aren't getting anywhere. If after 3 questions on the unblocking list I find that it is not working very well, it looks more like an unwanted feeling she has, then it might be quite alright to switch to re-experiencing. Finishing the unblocking list just because it has more questions on it doesn't do anybody any good.

As a process facilitator, you are continuously making course corrections. You are like a pilot flying for a target destination. If you find that you are getting off course you just make an adjustment to again fly towards the destination. There isn't anything holy about any direction, the key is whether or not you get to the destination in the easiest way you know of.

The more adjustments you can make in the least possible time, the better. If it takes you an hour to find out that you are off course, then you aren't as effective as somebody who can adjust course every minute if necessary.

Just keep in mind that when you are working towards a certain result ,then the procedures is the variable part. You have a tool bag full of techniques. Always use the most appropriate tool for the job. If it is no longer the most appropriate tool, use another.

This gives you no license to be indecisive and not finish what you start. Don't waver back and forth between your tools. Certain tools have a certain natural inertia built into them -- respect that. If you were building a set of shelves you wouldn't change back and forth between using nails or using screws. If you found out that screws really would be a big improvement over nails, you might pull out the nails you put in and replace them with screws. But don't mix up different approaches into an ineffective middle ground. If you need to switch, switch, but use each technique cleanly.

In this training course, the specific results are what is important. You work on something specific and you stay on that subject until you have a change in it. You apply the appropriate techniques to accomplish that.

Another approach to processing is to run through a pre-planned program of techniques. That is often how we run modules. For example, we can make a list of canned procedures on the subject of communication. We continue each procedure until we get some kind of positive result. It doesn't matter what the result is, as long as it is positive. And then we figure that if we do enough of those things in a fairly systematic manner, then we free up the person on the subject of communication. That is quite likely and that is a good plan. Following canned procedures requires relatively little skill, so it would be fairly easy to set up such a program.

The only problem comes in when we start expecting that these exact 50 procedures done one after each other will always produce this very precise result. Nope, that is not how it works. If you have a theoretically unlimited supply of different communication techniques, and you keep bringing in more until the client meets the defined standard, that is a more sound plan. But an even better plan would be that the facilitator has enough flexibility and skill to use the techniques that would most effectively get the client to where we are headed.

One advantage of using fixed procedures as compared to result-oriented techniques is that it can open up unexpected areas. We might get interesting surprises by what the client runs into in answering the questions, and that might be useful. Sometimes what the client doesn't know about and isn't asking for can be the area of the most fruitful advances.

Always be aware of what you are keeping stable in a session. If you are keeping the procedure stable, be open to variable results. If you keep the results stable, be open to variable procedures.

You can either keep the procedure fixed or the result fixed,

but not both.


- Write down an exact procedure for doing some routine chore, like getting milk in the fridge. Give the note to somebody else and have them follow the procedure without revealing what it is supposed to accomplish. Notice if they are successful. Then instead tell them the expected result and see how well they do.

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