June 29, 2011

Creative Role: The Frameworker

When thoughts and ideas fly, a framework may help to orchestrate them—to view them from different angles. This difference can make all the difference. A framework gives structure to thoughts and ideas. Its dictionary definition extends to “scaffolds.” If thoughts and ideas can be described as a building, then the framework is the scaffolding that supports them into a meaningful arrangement.

While completing a graduate program at the Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology, frameworks were like a dialect. Every class project involved making a framework to help guide thinking. Some frameworks were coined as acronyms like AEIOU (Activities, Environments, Interactions, Objects, Users), which is popular for arranging ethnographic findings. Others include POSTA (Person, Objects, Situations, Time, Activity) plus LATCH (Location, Alphabetical, Time, Category, Hierarchy) by information architect Richard Saul Wurman. Then there was the batch of frameworks used for projects dealing with planning.

Another example is from the frameworks-filled book “Unstuck” by Keith Yamashita, founder of “change and innovation firm” Stone Yamashita Partners, and Sandra Spataro, assistant professor at the Yale School of Management. There is a brief chapter called “Learn to fix the system, not just the symptom.” In it is advice “To succeed as a leader (or, for that matter, as an individual)” whose goal is to unify:
  • Your purpose
  • Your strategy
  • Your people and the way they interact
  • Your structure and process
  • Your metrics and rewards
  • Your culture
This framework was specifically made to help structure thoughts and ideas about success in leadership. Here’s the framework as a visual model:

There are probably as many frameworks as there are approaches to leadership. What framework works best to tackle a topic, such as leadership, depends on the quality of its usage. The framework quality can up (or not) the quality of the thinking about a problem or issue. Where one framework fails in application, the same framework can be changed and tried. Mostly, I’ve seen one framework used at a time. I suspect that more than one can be applied simultaneously, like a framework-mash-up.

Frameworks are made to help arrange thoughts and ideas in a conducive way; conducive to accomplish meaning. A structure—like a building or a car—is as stable as its frame. A frame can work thinking for the better.

Tap into your inner frameworker.

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This is the sixth piece of a series focused on the lively cast of characters whose roles make the play of Creativity. In case you missed the previous Creative Role, meet the Modeler.

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Typographic illustration, tailormade for this series, was done by Shawn HazenRead his Designer’s Quest(ionnaire).