DevDays Vilnius 2019


May 21-23, 2019


Judy Rees

Freelancer, UK


Judy Rees is known worldwide as a practical implementer of Clean Language, and as the co-author of the bestselling book on the topic, “Clean Language: Revealing Metaphors and Opening Minds”. A former journalist and digital media executive based in London, UK, she works extensively with organisations, communities and teams – especially online groups – to help them work better together through more effective communication. She teaches practical Clean Language skills to Agile coaches and other business change agents worldwide.



Revealing Minds With Clean Language



Ever had problems with people understanding what you’re up to? It’s a constant challenge. Whether we’re communicating with executives, with customers or with other people, we need to be heard in order to deliver great work. But too often, they just don’t seem to get it, despite it being so obvious!!!

What if there was a different way of seeing the problem? Experience from fields as diverse as education, mediation and sales suggest that the key may be to say less, listen more, and to build a better model of the person’s world.

In this workshop, you’ll discover a precision inquiry framework to do that: Clean Language. It has been shown to be particularly useful in improving communication between diverse individuals in complex contexts. It strengthens relationships, increases transparency and encourages clarity.

You will learn the fundamentals and be ready to put them into action immediately. The session will include a number of exercises which both demonstrate the impact of the approach and provide specific patterns for listening, questioning and model-building which delegates can put into action immediately.

Created during the 1990s by the late David Grove, Clean Language is being used increasingly by Agile practitioners as a power-up for the ceremonies we know and love, such as stand-ups and retrospectives. It supports effective communication within teams and can also be used as a stand-alone coaching pattern.


Module 1: Essentials For Revealing Minds

By the end of this Module, participants will:

  • Know the 3 Essentials and the Heart of Clean Language
  • Know the 2 Lazy Jedi questions
  • Know how to define and recognise a metaphor
  • Understand the definition of “Clean” in Clean Language
  • Understand the value of “Cleanness” in investigating another person’s experience respectfully
  • Understand the importance of using another person’s own words, rather than paraphrasing (the Persuasion Paradox)
  • Have asked the 2 Lazy Jedi Questions about a peer’s words in a slow-time practice activity
  • Have used the Clean Language question, “What would you like to have happen?” to clarify their own and a peer’s intention for an event
  • Know how the above relate to their own work

Module 2: Deeper, Safer

By the end of this Module, participants will:

  • Know the importance of listening in establishing strong relationships
  • Know how questions can be used to direct attention
  • Know how directing attention can change emotional state (positively or negatively!)
  • Know a quick, simple activity to reveal and explore the rich diversity within a group
  • Appreciate how non-verbal attributes such as voice tone and eye focus can influence attention
  • Understand the value of outcome/solution focus and positive bias
  • Have practised longer, more focussed listening
  • Have used non-verbal approaches to encourage a peer to tell their story
  • Have asked the Power Switch Question to change the direction of a peer’s attention in a slow-time practice activity
  • Have begun to notice hidden metaphors in language during practice activities
  • Know how the above relate to their own work

Module 3: Getting To The Heart Of The Mind

By the end of this Module, participants will:

  • Know why an appreciation of metaphor is important in working with people, and why it can support more effective communication
  • Know where to look for hidden metaphors in everyday contexts
  • Know the core of Caitlin Walker’s Clean Feedback Model
  • Understand the importance of both honesty and curiosity in investigating human experience
  • Understand the advantages and potential pitfalls of highlighting metaphor in Agile/software development contexts
  • Understand the Clean approach to metaphor and how this may be different to other approaches  
  • Have used the “Feeling to Metaphor” pattern to deliberately elicit a peer’s metaphor for a feeling – or a system
  • Know how the above relate to their own work

Module 4: From Inquiry Into Action

By the end of this Module, participants will:

  • Know the Clean Language action-planning questions
  • Know some ways in which Clean Language has been used in Agile/software development contexts
  • Understand how Clean Language and metaphor may be used to make an action plan
  • Have used the core of Caitlin Walker’s Clean Feedback Model to provide feedback to peers, trainers etc
  • Have used Clean Language questions to make a plan for applying learning from the day
  • Know how the above relate to their own work

Target Audience

Level 1 – Introductory and overview material. Assumes little expertise with topic and covers topic concepts, functions, features, and benefits.

Course Prerequisites

A personal computer.