The Process of Well-formed Outcomes in NLP
Studying the behaviours of successful people, Richard Bandler and John Grinder, the creators of NLP, concluded that successful behaviours are the results of the goals which have been taken through the process of well-formed outcomes. They discovered that the ordinary people and the successful people think differently when they make decisions. The successful people envisage various conditions and different dimensions of a goal and its results before they begin. The ordinary people just begin.
Richard Bandler and John Grinder, the creators of NLP defined a well-formed outcome in (1979) Frogs into Princes as follows:
"A Well-formed outcome is a term originating in Neuro-Linguistic Programming for an outcome one wishes to achieve, that meets certain conditions designed to avoid (1) unintended costs or consequences and resistance to achieving the goal resulting from internal conflicting feelings or thoughts about the outcome. Thus, a high quality outcome is more than a vague wish or goal. It is an objective or goal which is integrated with all aspects of one's life (morals, ethics, relationships, finances, health, body, etc.) and has a process of accomplishment that respects and supports the current desirable circumstances in one's life.
A high quality outcome is (in a sense) consistent with forward-thinking action as well, or alternatively have been clearly and well enough defined to be prima facie free of common "muddy thinking".
By applying all of the well-formedness conditions to a goal or outcome, and adjusting the outcome specifications accordingly in the process, you create a Well-formed outcome." (1)
When NLP became popular different people from different disciplines used the same principle but defined it in their own words and experiences. All of these different explanations showed different aspects of well formed outcome although each person my place emphasis on one aspect of it. Jules Collingwood, an NLP trainer, described it:
“A well formed outcome is like an opening gambit in chess. It sets the scene for the rest of the game, and the level of attention given to plotting the outcome has a direct bearing on the ease with which desired results are achieved. A well formed outcome makes the difference between wanting something in theory, and becoming able to go and get it in practice. This is not the same as taking a position about something. A well formed outcome describes something that its user wants, in sensory based, positive terms. It includes a description of what the user wants it for, and the terms, conditions and environmental contexts in which the user wants to have it. It includes consideration of different approaches to the outcome, and time frames, costs and consequences to interested parties, and whether it is within the user's control." (2)
Process thinking and forward-looking are two important issues in NLP as they determine the path and destination. Every action has some consequences. Some of the consequences are predictable and desirable and some others are not predictable but when you do them they get usually out of control. The way we define a goal or an objective is to make sure that we understand what we want and what we do not want after it is realised. What we do not take into consideration is what happens when we get what we want and what we do not get when we have it. The objective of a well-formed outcome in NLP is to make sure that we consider and examine in details different aspects of the goal.
"When our wants, dreams or wishes are refined using this process they become more believable and realisable. This is why they are then described as being `well-formed' outcomes. The term 'well-formed' has been around in NLP for over 30 years. However, as with many NLP terms, this name gets in the way of understanding the simplicity of the model. Some people, to make things even more obtuse, even refer to the 'well-formedness conditions for an outcome'.
Simply put, what the term really means is that the outcome has been refined or checked against six tests and once it 'passes' these tests it is well-designed - or, if you must, 'well-formed'! You can use this process to clarify your own wishes so that they are more realistic and action-focussed - and to assist others in doing the same." (3)
One action can determine a large part of your life if it is not examined fully and completely. If we have any idea of NLP or a well formed outcome we would behaved very differently. The aim of a well formed outcome is not to stop people from doing things or making decisions immediately but the objective is to ensure that at each phase of an action or goal setting is fully recognised and understood.
Your history follows you wherever you go. Be careful what you leave behind as it may capture you one day when you don't need it at all. Whatever you do may emerge in your life somehow later. You will enjoy or suffer the consequences of your actions. To make sure that NLP can help you in processing a well formed outcome, six major questions must be asked. Each major question includes some subordinate questions to clarify those aspects of the goal that are usually neglected.
2. Collingwood, J.J.P., Collingwood, C.R.
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