Time required:


Number of participants:

It can be done alone, but it works best if one facilitates the other. It can also be used in groups or teams, but it may require a little more time and a bit of customization


Printed tool (A3 or larger)


Brian Frandsen


Want to hear more about The four-leaf clover of change?

Want to hear more about The four-leaf clover of change?

This tool is based on the human mind’s changing back and forth between the acting with consciously and subconsciously and between the being reflective and acting. On a day-to-day basis, we don’t realize that we are moving in these interactions when we make decisions. But when we experience an unhelpful condition or situation in our lives that we want to change, we suddenly become aware of how little control we actually have – what we do, how we think, and what causes us to react and act in the ways we do on a daily basis.

This tool can be used to help yourself ask the right questions to change behavior or thinking, or used in a coaching, mentoring or sparring situation with another person.

Understand the model

The model consists of two twisted loops on top of each other. The vertical axis represents the interaction between the conscious and unconscious mind. Much of what we experience on a daily basis gets stored in the subconscious, but also what is in the subconscious can become conscious to us if we work with it.

The horizontal axis represents the interaction between reflection and action, where the loop represents how reflection can influence our actions, but also how action creates reflection and learning.

At the intersections of the two axes, four spaces emerge where our resources for navigating the world are found. These resources can help us create the conditions for the dream or desired state to be achieved – for the change we long for to happen.

How to use the tool

  1. Identify what the problem of the current state is and what your desired state would be.
    Curiously ask what the problem or challenge is. The more specific and concrete the problem of the current state is described, the better. Then investigate what the desired state could be. Is it a different feeling or emotion, a different behavior, a different situation or something else entirely? If either the problem or the desired state is unclear, it’s ok to just write down your immediate thoughts and move on. During the conversation, you can continuously add to both the problem and the desired state as insights emerge.
  2. Download thoughts about the problem.
    Get all the thoughts, reflections and considerations associated with challenge, problem and the current situation down on paper. try to keep your thoughts to the specific challenge and, if necessary, ask how the thoughts that arise relates to the challenge. Write everything down in the ‘analyze and thoughts’ field (possibly with postits, so you can write a lot and move the notes around as you go).
  3. Uncover the unconscious behavioral programs.
    The vast majority of our behavior is controlled by a series of unconscious programs (also called strategies) that let us perform complex series of different actions without spending energi og attention on it. Like, for example, when I’m sitting here typing, I use a whole bunch of different movements and actions without thinking about why or how. This step of the tool is about going into as much detail about a specific situation where the challenge or problem is present. Uncover step by step what you do in the situation, down to the smallest details to understand what’s at stake. Keep asking what happens in between the steps you’re mapping. Use post-its to create the process, so you can always insert a new step between two existing steps. If you’re facilitating the conversation, ask the person you’re helping to close their eyes and imagine the situation through their own eyes. If it’s difficult for them to go back and forth in the experience, zoom in and out, give them an ‘imaginary’ remote control where they can slow down, speed up, go forward and backwards, pause, zoom in, etc. Once the entire process is maped out in as much detail as possible, ask the question, “what part of this series of actions needs to change to make the situation the way you want it to be?” Write down the answers in the ‘Programs’ box.
  4. Map out the resources to change what needs to change.
    Start by asking: “What do you need to be able to do to change (say what you just mapped out) and get to the desired state (mention what it is)?” Write down the answers in the ‘Causes and memory’ box and for each answer ask if they know this ability/resource from other situations in their life. If not, ask what it would take for them to have that ability/resource. Once you’ve mapped out all the skills/resources needed, ask them to close their eyes and imagine who they are when they can (list all the things they’ve mentioned, possibly with reference to where they know it from in their life).
    Ask them to re-live the situation in which the problem use to present itself, but this time ask them to change what needs to be changed for the situation to be experienced differently. Let them tell you how they feel about the situation now. If new things arise in the ‘program’ that need to be changed to reach the desired state, ask again what they need to be able to do to change the situation where she knows that ability from and try again.
  5. Make the change conscious and create a strategy.
    The final step is to describe what is needed now to change the challenge in the future. This often becomes a form of picking up (making conscious) what has just been uncovered from the subconscious. However, it can be formulated as agreements or concrete actions to be taken to maintain the change.

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