by Phil Manker

Creating and Re-Creating Frameworks

by Augusto Cuginotti

This was back in 2007/2008 when I was living in Sweden. One day talking about some of the work with systems we used to do in our Spirit in Business group in Brazil¹. One particular thing that people found interesting was a 2×2 matrix to support decision-making in face of complexity.

The Matrix to Support Decision-Making

The idea was to invite people in management to identify when they were trying to use a style of decision-making that would be suitable for simple but not complex situations — and therefore repeatedly fail in their most competent efforts. I also use it to inform the complexity-lovers about the advantages of a simple cause and effect — not every situation needs to be looked at as a complex system².

André e eu (2007)

By separating the concepts of simple & easy and complex & difficult we could make more sense of the situations we face. I remember André, a mentor and participant of the group, exploring this topic over and over. To tackle a ‘complex issue’ with a ‘simple solution’ is one of the most common mistakes in management — he used to suggest.


I don’t know if our group ever presented the idea in the format below, but later on I found myself sharing with others like this:

A Matrix to Explore Different Questions

As a framework for action, instead of blindly putting an issue in one of the boxes, we used to look at the specific context and have a conversation about how the question would relate to the concepts and later inform our collective actions.

The Cynefin Framework

Last week I’ve got this video briefly explaining the Cynefin Framework. To date, I don’t know anything more about the framework than what is present in the video below — so my connection is superficial, but I believe justified.

I really don’t know how much they have in common and if they are inspired by a common background or not. I am sure that our work does not contain all that is explored in the framework, but I’d say it’s very likely that the other way around is also true. Even if one would encompass the other, it’d not make any difference for the heart of the matter which is the fact that

You Should Like Frameworks Too

I like frameworks — both for making sense of previous data and for organise the sense-making of data as they emerge. I think frameworks are fundamental for people who like to support decision-making because they provide a common starting point, but not a direction or a ending point.

But the skill of using a framework does not substitute the insight of creating them. The ability to identify patterns and then create frameworks and methods (or perhaps re-create them) is part of the self-training and internalisation of insights to actually make the most out of frameworks.

So how about keep creating and re-creating the frameworks and models we use? Import them from someone else might help but is very limited. Work your insights into a framework, preferably in conversation with others, and this can take you to another level of understanding of what is behind and supportive about them. You may even come up with your own version.

Stumble Upon the Web: Speed Geeking

It is not about who invented it, but how you get to them. One that came while browsing the web:

During the same time in Sweden I was faced with the challenge to design a process so myself and colleagues could present about 3-4 specific ideas to our whole class. The design was simple:

  • We had each one of us in the group to read about one of the ideas;
  • Each one served as a host of the specific idea in a small circle;
  • Participants would initially divide themselves by choosing one of the circles;
  • A bell would ring so they could change and get to visit all circles.

Nothing particularly amazing about that — despite the fact that I found out months later that I was not actually using my own design, but speed geeking. I’m glad I did not know that, otherwise I might have decided to use something else. Geek, me?! :)

Even though knowing more tools would allow me to come up easily with this ‘method’, I’d have to carry an immensely heavy toolbox to face all the different scenarios that are out there. Besides that, I would think less about what is behind the actual process by just fitting a tool to a situation in the end.

Fact: Most people just fit tools into situations. Tools are finite, situations are endless. Sometimes it just won’t fit – that’s why groups get blisters.

Re-Create the New and the Old

It is great that many methods and frameworks are out there, mapped and named — that means more people working on stuff that matters. On the other hand, we have to keep our eyes open for our dependancy on frameworks and methods, specially the ones people copyright or baby-sit too much.

It is like the old story: musicians should love music through their instruments and not the instruments alone.

There is a lot of space to use methods and frameworks and just not enough to create (or re-create) them. Fair enough if the only thing you want is a disposable result — but far from sufficient if you are dealing with more complex issues and specially if you are interested in process, facilitation and hosting.

Allow some time to create with others your own methods and frameworks. Allow some time to re-create and give new meaning to the old ones.