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In this section we invite you to explore some of the key fields of study that provide good insights into why the CCS works as well as it does and how best to utilise if for creating open, honest communication.

This is a small sample of the material included in the CCS Facilitators Manual.

What is tacit knowledge?

Michael Polanyi, was an influential advocate for what he termed 'tacit' forms of knowing. Tacit knowledge is knowledge that is understood, but is unspoken and implicit.

His argument, which was developed around acts of creativity and discovery, is that the educated guesses, hunches and thoughts that we use during discovery are motivated by what he called 'passions'. Importantly these passions cannot always be talked about in formal terms.

In Polanyi's words:

"We can know more than we can tell."


In our words, we can know more than we have the words to express.

But, while an individual may not be able to talk this tacit mix of concepts, feelings and images, they can and do draw upon this knowledge in an attempt to make sense of the world. It's similar with other aspects of a person's lived experience — a person can tacitly know and feel things but does not have, or cannot find, the words to describe what they know and feel.

What this means for CCS facilitators

The CCS is a tool that helps participants describe their lived experiences – even those they don't have words for. As participants work through the CCS process and make their CCS choices, sometimes without even knowing why they are choosing certain images, they begin to find ways to talk about these tacit understandings.

The CCS process gives participants the opportunity to readily bring the resources of their tacit knowledge to all manner of personal and organisational learning and development situations. This is a feat that might otherwise require much more time-consuming and skilful facilitation.

What is appreciative inquiry?

Developed by David Cooperrider, appreciative inquiry is a technique for organisational change and development that has people focus upon what works in an organisation or in life.

In general "it assumes that every living system has many untapped, rich and inspiring accounts of the positive."


The approach works by bringing people together to tell stories, reflect, analyse, interpret and create images of the future "out of grounded examples from an organisation's positive past." (adapted and cited from David Cooperrider, 2000).

As its two word name implies, appreciative inquiry, is a positive (appreciative) questioning (inquiry) approach to change and development. "It should begin with appreciation, should be applicable, should be provocative, and should be collaborative. The basic process of appreciative inquiry is to begin with a grounded observation of the 'best of what is', then through vision and logic, collaboratively articulate 'what might be', ensuring the consent of those in the system to 'what should be' and collectively experimenting with 'what can be' (Gervase R. Bushe, 1998).

What this means for CCS facilitators

The positioning of the CCS as a tool for appreciative inquiry is almost unavoidable.

The CCS seeks to draw out of our understanding, the elements, ideals, emotions and experience that we all hold within us which encourages us to engage in dialogue about what we discover. It can be used to provoke participants to recall the best of their relevant lived experience, and then to collaborate with others in bringing about positive change.


A key use of the tool (as scripted in the CCS group process in the Facilitators Manual) is in fact to have participants produce a visual collage of their collective ideal and then to consider how best to bring that to fruition in their daily practice – or to use this as a primer to considering new content in learning programs.

In addition, the CCS provides participants with a unique way to understand and appreciate one another, promoting respect and connection. This is important, since despite the obvious benefits, it is often difficult for people, particularly work colleagues, to offer each other genuine appreciative remarks or compliments. It is usually possible however, to have them thumb through their CCS vision pack and pick a card to share something genuinely positive about another person with both parties feeling the benefits of the shared observation and comments (we have an activity known as CCS picture positives).

What is action learning?

Developed by the late Reginald Revans, action learning is an educational process in which a person examines their own actions and experience in an effort to improve their performance.

Revans asserts that we learn from two sources:

  • other people – 'programmed knowledge' – documented and recorded knowledge of experts. He suggests that this kind of knowledge is necessary but not sufficient for people to cope with complex life situations.
  • ourselves – by questioning ourselves about our own tacit knowledge. This knowledge includes insights about ourselves (including what we know and don't know) and the world in which we live. This kind of knowledge is believed to be the basis of wisdom.

The action learning process is usually carried out with others in small groups. The insights that surface are then used to guide future action.

What this means for CCS facilitators

The CCS is well-placed as a tool for action learning. Of Revans' two learning sources it is of course for the latter – ourselves – that the CCS has the prime application.

The CCS is not for providing content. It is a tool that helps participants to connect with what they already know and to uncover what they don't know that they know – or at least have not yet been able to articulate.


The CCS process gives participants an insightful way to fully consider their own experience and then naturally and often easily, communicate the essence of this experience to others.

Furthermore, the CCS group process offers an efficient and reliable way for a facilitator to encourage small groups (called "action sets" in action learning terminology) to share and combine their insights to bring about learning and change.




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CCS Corporation Pty Limited
221 Pringles Road
Martinsville NSW
Australia 2265
+61 2 4977 1211

CCS Corporation
We are the makers of the Compatibility Communication System (or, CCS), an image-based tool used to create clearer, more effective communication in less time. All over the world.

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