by Mark Fischer

Framework Lock-up: Framed in Simplism

by Augusto Cuginotti

In so far as my body is the center of action, it cannot give birth to a representation. H. Bergson

Recently I wrote an article about how much I like frameworks. Frameworks can support us in organizing things without giving fix recipes of what to do or where to go. Those conversations can be about:

  • the future: this is when we want to coordinate our intentions and actions in order to bring a possibility into being;
  • the past: in a way that we can interpret what happened by reflecting back on the action and its response.

What’s in Between Past and Future?

There can be no authenticity if you are holding a conversation while holding a framework.

The dark side of frameworks is that they cannot frame the present – and framework lovers (like myself) wish they could. No need to say that if your mind is on a framework, you have yourself in another place that is not here and in another time that is not now.

There can be no authenticity if you are holding a conversation while holding a framework. With this I’m not saying you should not use frameworks to design a conversation in alignment with your intentions or to capture the fruits of that conversation in an organized and insightful fashion. What I’m saying is that there is no authentic conversation if your are constantly paying attention to frameworks.

And guess what? We need more authentic conversations.

Framework for Presence

I finally understood what the process artist Marvin once told me during one training: don’t keep thinking on all those theories of how groups work, principles and techniques. He used to say that if you did your homework well, you should not be thinking in a reactive way like this – just be there.

I had my mind pondering if all those principles would then be useless after all. Perhaps their usefulness would be the very block of authenticity, the block of the flow of discovery, inquiry, life.

For now I’m happy with this: if you are in a functional space – the one created to perform a function – you will need to step into the world of principles, hypothesis, frameworks and interventions. But even for purposeful spaces like this, a time will come when neither you nor the group will be able to frame what is going on and the best way to go is to surrender yourself to the chaos. A messy feeling, I know, but I believe – and lived – the very authentic moments of the group coming from those times.

friendship, not intervention

But wait, there is life beyond those functional spaces, life that we will hopefully experience: times of being together, times that are about friendship and authenticity. This is crucial in a community, where we need “friendship, not intervention” (@dfrieze).

Why Do Feel Like Locking Ourselves?

I can make sense of the world only by reducing the number of its meanings- which are potentially infinite- to a restricted set. M. Holquist

I don’t know. I think the world is more understandable when we draw a boundary around it and so we tend to do it often. It might be an unavoidable feeling of safety while having the illusion of being in control.

In group work I blame us, the facilitators and hosts, who sell expertise by framework knowledge (and, worse, framework copyright).

I’d say that the drive to frame everything is more than naïveté, it might be a personal defence, a way to avoid being there and authentic, to be a human voice rather than the teacher. Many people fall in love with ‘facilitation’ because they want to hide behind the working hat.

How Do You Work?

For me the only way to grow out of the simplism of framing is to be available for the other in real relationships. Perhaps we need more time as part of a community, to have the chance to be you right here right now. I don’t have a framework for this :P

What can we do to be more skilled rather than more knowledgeable?