How to Work With the SCORE Model

14 February, 2021
If you'd like an easy-to-use coaching and problem-solving model that you can also use with teams, read on. The SCORE model offers wonderful results, even if you don’t have any advanced NLP experience.

If you manage or work with teams, and need an easy-to-use coaching, problem-solving, and strategy model that you can use with teams and individuals, the SCORE model is perfect for you. This powerful tool is great for individuals and teams. Besides, you don’t need any neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) experience.

This model is a way of mapping out the “problem space” of the challenge that an individual or team is struggling with, to reveal previously hidden causes. It also helps clarify and define desired outcomes. Even if you’re trained in NLP, you may not know the SCORE model, as it isn’t taught in every school. However, it’s surely worth knowing about. 

If you’re already familiar with the SCORE model and are interested in some ideas and tips on how to effectively use it, this post is for you. These clever ideas will surely help you make the best of the model in practice. You’ll also learn how it can be transformed into something more powerful via an appreciative, solution-focused framework.

Origins

Internationally respected developer, author, trainer, and consultant Robert Dilts said in the Encyclopedia of Systemic NLP and NLP New Coding that the SCORE model originated in 1987. Back then, along with Todd Epstein, he noticed they were intuitively using a more effective method than NLP students for mapping out problems and designing interventions to reach solutions.

As they examined their own problem-solving process to find how it differed from that of their students, they found that they were viewing any problem situation as having these five components:

  • Symptoms. These are the immediate signs that tell you there’s a problem.
  • Causes. Which may be the antecedent conditions that gave rise to the symptoms, the intentions behind behaviors giving rise to the problem, or current constraints.
  • Outcomes. Your desired result or goal, where you want to get to.
  • Resources. The qualities, capabilities, reserves, and help that you can bring to bear on solving the problem. These can be past, present, or future.
  • Effects. The long-term, systemic, and higher-level results of the outcome.

Sample questions to clarify each component

The sample questions featured below will help further clarify each component of the famous model by Dilts and Epstein.

Symptoms

  • What’s not working?
  • What do you want to change?

Causes

  • What are the underlying causes?
  • What’s stopping you from fixing this?
  • Who or what is benefiting from not fixing this?

Outcomes

  • What do you want instead of the problem?
  • Where do you want to get to?

Resources

  • What skills/money/equipment/contacts do you have that will help you to solve your problem?
  • Have you faced a problem like this before? How did you solve it?

Effects

  • What will it do for you/your team/your organization/society for you to reach the goal?
  • How will reaching your outcome change things?
  • What will you learn from it?

Bear in mind you’d start with the symptoms component generally. After that, you can go in any direction you select. There’s no set order or prescribed length of time to be spent in each component.

The idea is to simply let your interest and intuition, and your calibration of the client, whether team or individual, guide you through the process. This way, you’ll know exactly when to move to another component, and which one to move to.

Using the SCORE model in practice

To really get the best from this model, it needs to be more than a cerebral paper-and-pen exercise. Instead, lay the timeline on the floor and mark out Causes, Symptoms, Outcomes, and Effects as spaces along with it. Resources should be somewhere off the timeline.

The SCORE model will have more impact if the explorer physically steps into each location as they investigate it. This helps to physically associate the person into the state and frame of mind of each component of the model, making it easier to access all the information at each stage.

If a management team wants to assess where they’re now, and where they want to get to, or indeed, if they want to draw a line under past failures and set some new goals, this model offers a ready-made format. It’s best done with a facilitator who may guide the process without having an emotional stake in the content.

Most team leaders and managers aren’t interested in the intricacies of NLP; they simply want an easy-to-follow method like SCORE that truly helps them move forward. This model is perfectly suited to the task because it’s relatively jargon-free.

We hope this inspires you. As you can see, the effective SCORE model gives you a practical, step-by-step method for clearing the “clutter” from a problem, while letting solutions emerge. More importantly, this simple and robust model is great for both individuals and teams.  

  • Dilts, R., & DeLozier, J. (2016). PNL II: Programación neurolingüística, la siguiente generación. El Grano de Mostaza Ediciones.