A model that I use quite frequently in one-to-one guidance and group sessions is one that I cobbled together myself. I call it the Zones model (or Zones of Impact model).
The original spark for the idea came from the Cognitive Information Processing model. I was scared off by words such as ‘metacognitions’, but the idea of different domains of thinking appealed to me, as did the notion of using these domains to identify the type of help that would be most appropriate for particular clients. Further inspiration came from the knowing-why, knowing-how and knowing-whom of the Intelligent Career model and Blooms Taxonomy of Learning. I later came across the Transformational Learning model (sometimes called triple loop learning) which again looks at different levels of change that might take place with a client.
Out of these various sources of inspiration, I wanted to make a model that I would find easy to remember which would help me to locate and assess the type of help I was giving to clients. Thus was born the Zones of Impact model. The model attempts to classify different areas of client needs in four primary zones.
- Knowledge zone (WHAT?) — Do they just need information? Is a lack of knowledge the only thing holding this client back from making progress?
- Process zone (HOW?) — Do they need to learn new skills or techniques? Are they unsure how to approach a particular career management task?
- Meaning zone (WHY?) — Do they have a proper understanding of themselves and their circumstances? Do they need help in interpreting their situation? Are they misleading themselves or making wrong assumptions?
- Identity zone (WHO?) — Do they have a clear idea of who they are and who they want to be? Do they have issues with their self image or self confidence?
I visualise the zones as a series of layers. The outer layers of Knowledge and Process are most easily visible when we encounter a client, but they might conceal inner layers where the real help is needed. Action in the inner zones is likely to have the largest and longest lasting impact but is possibly harder to achieve.
Using this model to reflect on my practice, I noticed that I would naturally gravitate to the Process Zone. I have a tendency to want to show or tell people how to do things. I began to experiment with pushing my help into different zones. For example, when looking at someone’s CV, I would try to help them understand the purpose of the CV from an employer’s point of view (meaning zone). Although this took more work, it actually made it easier then to advise them on how to build their CV (process zone) and what to put on it (knowledge zone).
In longer guidance sessions, I have been experimenting with different starting invitations such as, ‘How would you like to be different at the end of this session?’ in an attempt to explicitly invite clients to think about the possibility of working in the Identity Zone.
Applying this to group work, I recently ran a workshop on interview skills for doctors seeking consultant positions. At the beginning of the session, I consciously tried to start in the Identity Zone by helping them think about themselves as consultants — to identify themselves with this future role. This made it easier to help them understand the recruiters perspective (meaning zone), to know how to present their evidence effectively (process zone) and to know what to include in their answers (knowledge zone). Focusing on the Identity Zone also made it more natural to raise deeper issues of career satisfaction during the session.
- Which zone do you spend most time in with clients?
- How many times have you been in the wrong zone?
- What models do you find most useful?
- See this handout on using Zones in a guidance setting
- See this handout on using Zones to evaluate the learning outcomes for training and group work.