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Metaprograms in MindSonar Metaprograms and Criteria in MindSonar MindSonar basically measures two things: metaprograms (thinking style) and criteria (values). In other words MindSonar measures how people think and what they find important. Metaprograms do not describe what someone thinks, but how they think. In this document we describe the thirteen sets of metaprograms that MindSonar measures and the categories in which it places criteria (the Graves ‘drives’). Metaprograms Measured in MindSonar The following metaprograms are measured in MindSonar. Metaprograms set 1: Proactive versus Reactive Proactive = a preference for acting quickly and taking the initiative. Reactive = a preference for waiting, considering, and reflecting. Metaprograms set 2: Towards versus Away from Towards = a focus on achieving goals Away From = a focus on avoiding problems. Metaprograms set 3: Internal Reference versus External Reference Internal Reference = using one’s own standards in evaluations. External Reference = using other people’s standards in evaluations. Metaprogram set 4: Options versus Procedure Options = a preference for many different possibilities. Procedure = a preference for step-by-step planning. Metaprograms set 5: General versus Specific General = a focus on the broad overview Specific = a focus on the small details. Metaprograms set 6: Matching versus Mismatching Matching = a focus on what is good and correct. Mismatching = a focus on what is bad and incorrect). Metaprograms set 7: Internal locus of control versus External locus of control Internal locus of control = a focus on how someone influences their circumstances) versus External locus of control (focus on how someone’s circumstances influence them). Metaprograms set 8: Maintenance versus Development versus Change Maintenance = a preference for things staying the same. Development = a preference for gradual change. Change = a preference for fast and radical change.


Note: In many overviews of metaprograms, the desire for stability or sameness versus change or difference is assumed to coincide with its perception. Someone with a desire for change is thought to also perceive more change. However, these two preferences might not reflect the same metaprograms. People often desire change precisely because they do not perceive enough change and often desire stability when they perceive too much change. We have therefore chosen in MindSonar to focus this set of metaprograms on the desire for—and not the perception of—stability or change. Metaprograms set 9: People versus Activity versus Information People = a focus on people and what moves them Activities = a focus on activities being done Information = focus on information; facts and figures. Metaprograms set 10: Concept versus Structure versus Use Concept = a focus on essentials and principles. Structure = a focus on relationships between elements. Use = a focus on practical applications. Metaprograms set 11: Together versus Proximity versus Solo Together = a preference for working closely together with shared responsibilit. Proximity = a preference for mutual support with individual responsibility. Solo = a preference for working alone). Metaprograms set 12: Past versus Present versus Future Past = a focus on past events. Present = a focus on the “here and now”. Future = a focus on future events. Distinctions set 13: Visual versus Auditory versus Kinesthetic Visual = a focus on images and movies. Auditory = focus on sounds and words. Kinesthetic = focus on feelings and movement. Note: These last three distinctions are sensory modalities rather than meta-programs. They are measured together with the meta-programs for the sake of convenience. Criteria Criteria are values. They indicate what someone finds important in a given context. In the TOTE (Test–Operate–Test–Exit) Model of goal-directed behavior, the present situation is compared with a criterion to determine whether operations (actions) are necessary. Meta-programs can be understood as ways in which people handle their criteria. MindSonar asks the respondent to define: Four criteria (four things they find important in the context their profile is measured for). A meta-criterion (what happens when the first four criteria are met). The opposites of all criteria (e.g., for a particular person, the opposite of “inspiration”


might be “dullness”). The hierarchy of the criteria (their order of importance). Categorizing Criteria Originally, MPA MindSonar simply took stock of people’s criteria by storing their verbal descriptions. This made it difficult to compare criteria, since different people attach different meanings to the same words. We wanted to be able to accurately define and compare criteria based on numbers. To achieve this, we needed a typology of values, and we chose the Graves (Spiral Dynamics®) model. Graves theorized that there are eight value systems which evolved over the course of human history.4 He assumed that each value system flows from the previous one as a response to ever more complex living circumstances and the problems which are inherent in the last system. MindSonar now measures the extent to which criteria are associated with seven of the eight Graves categories, using colors derived from Spiral Dynamics5 theory: Purple Drive When someone has a strong purple drive, their criteria in that particular context have to do primarily with security and safety. Other key words for this drive are: belonging, tradition, feeling at home, togetherness, and seniority. Red Drive When someone has a strong red drive, their criteria primarily relate to power and respect—to getting respect in particular, but also to showing respect. They act impulsively, quickly, and forcefully without thinking of the consequences. Other key words for this drive are: reputation, power, strength, honour, and courage. Blue Drive When someone has a strong blue drive, their criteria have to do primarily with order and security. Other key words for this drive are: discipline, reliability, duty, and control. Orange Drive When someone has a strong orange drive, their criteria have to do primarily with competition and winning. Other key words for this drive are: success, achievement, results, progress, and influence. Green Drive When someone has a strong green drive, their criteria have to do primarily with ideals and loyalty to the group. Other key words for this drive are: harmony, community, connectedness, love, social contact, and consensus. Yellow Drive When someone has a strong yellow drive, people criteria have to do primarily with learning and independence. Other key words for this drive are: creativity, analysis, and personal growth. Turquoise Drive When someone has a strong turquoise drive, their criteria primarily have to do with the big picture and a holistic vision. Other key words for this drive are: responsibility for the earth as a whole, spirituality, balance, and integration. To summarize: MindSonar measures thirteen sets of metaprograms (thinking style elements) and defines criteria (values) as well as the hierarchy of the criteria. It categorizes the criteria in seven


categories based on the Graves value theory. Definition of the Word Metaprograms Metaprograms are a pattern that can be observed in the way someone thinks. Metaprograms are expressed in verbal and non-verbal behaviours. Metaprograms influence feeling states and emotions. Synonyms for ‘metaprograms’ are ‘cognitive-perceptual preferences’, ‘cognitive style elements’ and ‘ways of thinking’. Definition of the Word ‘Metaprofile’ A metaprofile is a combination of several different metaprograms. Together, these metaprograms characterize an individual’s way of thinking and perceiving. A MindSonar profile combines metaprograms with someone’s value hierarchy. Metaprofile and Context The metaprograms someone uses can change depending on the situation, which is why we talk about someone’s MindSonar profile in a particular context. In a different context (situation) the same person may have different metaprograms. For instance, an individual may have a particular combination of metaprograms when they are at work, a different combination of metaprograms when they are enjoying their hobby and yet another combination of metaprograms when they are discussing politics with their friends. Metaprograms, mental strategies and belief systems In the term neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) the term “programming” refers to mental strategies (sequences of inner images, sounds, and feelings). Metaprograms are “meta” to these strategies. Strategies describe the sequence of sensory experiences in thinking. Metaprograms describe the general trends in the content of that strategy. In that sense, the term ‘meta’ in metaprograms, indicates that metaprograms are meta to mental strategies. In terms of concepts, metaprograms are located between mental strategies (thinking sequence) and belief systems (values). MindSonar categorizes values using Graves (Spiral Dynamics) categories.

To see how metaprograms are used in various MindSonar projects, please click on the link. To look up metaprograms in the NLP Encyclopaedia, please click on this link.

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Metaprograms in MindSonar  

Metaprograms set 2: Towards versus Away from Towards = a focus on achieving goals Away From = a focus on avoiding problems. Metaprograms set...

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