(24 common Patterns in Managing and Mismanaging Problems)

An Application of DBM®

The full series of trainings DBM Art and Science

Life is full of difficulties and problems. How we identify and respond to them can strengthen and enrich us or burden us with unnecessary pain and suffering. As we are born not knowing anything about problems, we need both to learn how to identify them and to know how best to respond to them. This is all the more challenging as there are many different types of problems and a successful response to one of them could, if applied to another, make things worse.


All that we call difficulties, limitations and problems are different kinds of life problems each requiring a different type of intervention. There is not a single panacea, one fixed for everything.


Paul Watzlawick has described one situation where “the problem is a solution”. This is where in an inappropriate solution or poorly executed solution can create new problems. This danger of well meaning but poor intervention creating new problems or compounding existing problems is not the only way that we can mismanage problems. There are many others. One other common situation, one where we could say “the problem is the problem”, is where the problem is poorly formulated in the first place. Any attempted solution based on this formulation will be a waste the time or, again, potentially make things worse. Yet another common situation is where there is a problem but it is not recognised or is ignored. In this case, we could say that “nothing IS the problem”.


All of these examples demonstrate how complex and challenging it is to successfully manage problems. They are all examples from 24 different patterns that we use to mismanage problems that John McWhirter has identified through 30 years of working to help people manage problem better.. They are the same 24 different patterns that we also use when effectively managing problems.


If we understand how these different patterns work and use them appropriately we can avoid the negative possibilities create effective responses, manage problems better and enhance our quality of life. To be most effective we need to:


1. Recognise that there is a problem.

2. Identify accurately what kind of problem it is.

3. Know how to effectively respond to each kind of problem.

4. Apply the appropriate response effectively.

John McWhirter, Creator of Developmental Behavioural Modelling (DBM).

John McWhirter has been modelling how we manage problems for over 30 years and this has been integrated into his creative modelling with his work as a therapist, teacher and consultant together with extensive research and study including systems theory, communication theory, and information theory creating the field of Developmental Behavioural Modelling (DBM®).

The 24 patterns have been identified through Developmental Behavioural Modelling (DBM).

In this workshop John will introduce 24 common types of response to problem situations, all of which are useful sometimes and all of which can make things worse if inappropriately applied. Participants will learn how to identify each of the 24 patterns, learn what is appropriate and not appropriate for different problems, how to effectively apply each of the patterns, and learn how to help people change from an inappropriate to the appropriate pattern.

A number of additional DBM distinctions, models and skills will be introduced in the workshop to support and extend the ability of participants to work effectively with the 24 patterns.


Developmental Behavioural Modelling DBM

All of us build our understanding of the world around us based on our experience. We continue to create and change this understanding throughout our lives. We call this understanding that each of us creates our ‘model’ of the world. By a model we mean “an organised dynamic representation of our world”. We do not respond to the world as it is. We respond to how we have made sense of it, how it is “meaningful” to us. We then respond to new things based on what we already “know”. Instincts build in responses for animals but human beings need to learn how to respond in our cultures, organisations, countries and families. This learning, the building of a model, is a process of Modelling. All our cognition and all our emotions are based on our understanding of reality, on our models of the world.

We build and use models; our clients build and use models. As professional we are more likely to build formal models (including theories) to extend our informal or “naturalistic” modelling. Both informal understanding and the formal understanding of science are models (and theories) built through the process of modelling. No matter what the epistemology underlying a theory both the epistemology and the theory require to be created in the first place.

Developmental Behavioural Modelling DBM is the formal studying of the complete range of modelling. This includes the structure and function of models, how models are formally and informally constructed and applied. DBM® offers a practical and verifiable set of distinctions, models and processes for identifying HOW we communicate, HOW learn and improve our communication.

© John McWhirter 2013 all rights reserved