Decision-Making: Framing

In the last blog I ended with establishing a baseline around decision making, drawing on the Lectical Decision Making Assessment (LDMA) and Russo & Schoemaker (“Winning Decisions”):
  1. Framing: the general goal of the decision maker including the way they think about the knowledge upon which they base their decision
  2. A realistic approach to gathering intelligence
  3. Coming to Conclusions: organising and analysing the information and a way to coordinate different perspectives (weighing)
  4. An approach to communicating and implementing the decision made
  5. Learning from Experience, including a way to measure the decision’s effectiveness so adjustments can be made

It seems that already the first step, Framing, is much undervalued, or even overlooked. The way we frame a problem exerts enormous control over the options we recognize, the data we collect and the solutions we choose.

Poor framing can lead people to sensible-sounding but fundamentally limited views of the world to structure their decision making process. According to Russo & Schoemaker (“Winning Decisions”), we experience frames when we meet people who just seem to immediately understand us. Or in the frustration of trying to talk with others who just don’t seem to get it, no matter how much we try to explain. Cognitive scientist call these different ways of looking at the world “frames”. They are mental structures that simplify and guide our understanding of a complex reality. Everyone must inevitable adopt some kind of simplifying perspective.

But frames themselves don’t just limit our view, they are hard to see and change. If we are too close to your frame, we tend not to see it. Many inexperienced decision makers tend to think that their perspective is all there is.

Through what frame do you view your business? Do you have a relational frame, a transactional one? Is an organisation a legal entity? A set of relationships? A network? A family? Against what frame do you measure your wins and performance? What other metaphors do you use to decribe your business?

A fun thing: we can see that each frame or metaphor has its limits and boundaries, that includes certain aspects and leaves others out. We can start playing around, and reframe. As one of the results from the current Covid-19 crisis, we can see a lot of this happening, as many business reframe their usual way of doing business (meetings, trainings etc. ) to virtual ways of interacting.

Reframe: What changes if you change your frame? What becomes possible if meetings are virtual instead of face to face? New boundaries are made by time-zones rather than by location and flight schedules. Another example: We are looking at the moment to replace our car. We are playing now to get rid of the frame of ownership which is a hard one to go. However, with a long term rent, there are whole range of new solutions out there for our decision making process, including options with new technologies, low consumption that were previously out of our reach from the ownership frame.

Russo & Schoemakers advice us to become aware of the frames we use and compare ours to other peoples’ frames. They recommend running a “frame audit” to become aware of our implicit assumptions about our industry, our business, our profession. To define the boundaries and explore the highlights and shadows. To listen to norms, rituals, metophors we and others use and start playing around with them to see what perspectives can shift with different frames.

Some of these reframings are so powerful, that they can actually resolve the problem in the first place. That is some kind of mastery…..

Reference: Russo, J. E. & Schoemaker, P.J.H. (2002): Winning Decisions: Getting it right the first time.

Photos by Alex Ivashenko on Unsplash, Meriç Tuna on Unsplash; Feature Photo: Anne Caspari

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