📑 How (and why) to roll your own frameworks in consulting engagements

Bookmarked How (and why) to roll your own frameworks in consulting engagements (tomcritchlow.com)
  • Frameworks are simple tools for thinking that can create a shared world view and be easily referenced
  • The first instinct of many consultants is to grab a framework that you’ve heard of but this causes problems in three ways:
    • They’re too complex
    • They’re not relevant enough
    • You didn’t make it so there’s little attachment
  • Instead I believe you should be making your own frameworks and they you should focus on:
    • Simple frameworks (even a simple categorization is a framework)
    • True frameworks that say something about the client’s business
    • Co-creating them with clients so you get the IKEA effect
  • I’m still figuring it out but I believe doodling, sketching, notebook diagrams and visual thinking can help you get better at making frameworks
  • And, finally, for maximum effectiveness you need to focus on memorable names – compress to impress.
Tom Critchlow reflects on the use of frameworks to inform decision making. He touches on the failure of pre-existing framework and instead suggests we should focus on co-creating:

  • Firstly you avoid almost-true frameworks. The client almost certainly knows more than you do and has an awareness for the corporate memory so can help you avoid evolutionary dead ends that might not be immediately obvious.
  • Secondly by co-creating with the client you get at least one senior member of the organization fully immersed in the theory, not just the summary of the framework. Remember frameworks are abstractions – by design – but you want at least someone who understands the whole system not just the abstraction
  • Thirdly, because the client co-created it with you they are proud of their work and far more likely to use, reference and share the framework than if you hand it to them fully formed.

This process stems from ‘client-ethnographies’ that is a part of ongoing work:

Every time you’re on-site with a client’s organization you’re studying the people, the behaviours, the motivations. You’re asking questions of as many people as you can.

Activities such as doodling and refining the name can help with with the process.

2 responses on “📑 How (and why) to roll your own frameworks in consulting engagements”

  1. Deborah, I really like your discussion of innovation and ecosystems:

    An ecosystem is a complex community of interconnected organisms in which each part, no matter how seemingly small, has an active, agentic part to play in the community. There are constant interdependent relationships and influences. The notion of an ecosystem of education resonates with Bob Garmston and Bruce Wellman’s third Adaptive Schools underlying principle of what they call ‘nonlinear dynamical’ systems: that tiny events create major disturbances. This principle reflects the way change often happens. The little things we change or do can have unexpected, chaotic, incremental effects that are difficult to quantify or not immediately noticeable.

    Working as one of those ‘little things’ that come into the school it can be easy to bring in a script when arriving at a new school. The problem is that each school is made up of many other ‘little things’. I have therefore found it more useful to gauge as much about the school’s context as quickly as possible and then re-framing my message to fit.
    Tom Critchlow describes this as ‘client ethnographies‘:

    Every time you’re on-site with a client’s organization you’re studying the people, the behaviours, the motivations. You’re asking questions of as many people as you can.

    While Doug Belshaw talks about the dangers of dead metaphors and failed frameworks:

    So although it takes time, effort, and resources, you’ve got to put in the hard yards to see an innovation through all three of those stages outlined by Jisc. Although the temptation is to nail things down initially, the opposite is actually the best way forward. Take people on a journey and get them to invest in what’s at stake. Embrace the ambiguity.

    Although it can be a challenge to find the time and resources, without it change is often frustrating to say the least.

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