Jim and I often joke that we should have named our firm “Frameworks ‘R’ Us,” for frameworks are at the core of everything we do whether it be a customer experience or management frameworks or otherwise. Every speech, every class, every workshop, every engagement – each one will be centered on one or more frameworks that first describe what is going on in the world of business and then prescribe what companies should do about it.
This became core to who I am “way back when” in my former life at IBM when I was a strategic planner. Our group had analyzed the computer industry forwards and backwards to determine where we needed to take our piece of the business – mini-computers (remember the AS/400?).
We truly did a great job (he says humbly; but feel free to ask me for a summary of the work and you will see for yourself!), but at one of our meetings I commented that what we had “was just a list of stuff.”
The Need for Frameworks
Bingo! We needed a framework to put our list of stuff into something that made sense, that everyone could easily see, and that let us determine whether or not our items were incomplete, or perhaps even overmuch.
Back then we hit on a fairly simple framework (I had yet to discover the power of 2x2s or progressions!), the journalistic questions of who, what, where, when, why, and how. It allowed us to consolidate our list into a taxonomy of six classes that ensured that we were covering the gamut of the situation. (And I like to think that my colleagues and I – including Mark McNeilly, Bruce Jawer, and others – did a pretty good job of predicting the future of computing in 1989 – see our framework above.)
Ever since, “just a list of stuff” has been a watchword (ok, watchphrase….) for the crying need for a framework. If you ever see it or something like it in your work, then you too should look to turn your insights into a descriptive and, ideally, prescriptive framework.