At the most uncertain times in our lives, why are frameworks the best resource to guide me / us?
In one of ebbf Netherlands Digital Meaningful Morning Series we wet our appetite for the #rethinksuccess ebbf annual conference and explored the role of frameworks in these apparently uncontrollable times of constant change and instability.
We asked what is the effect that frameworks have on us? How important is it to be aware of, of identifying the frameworks we live in?
What are the principles that form them, what consequences do they have on us and on others to be able to reframe them?
By giving answers to those questions we can improve those conceptual and action frameworks and put us in a stronger position to cope as individuals and as a society with this and future crises.
In a recent course on change management we talked about trust, and there was some confusion about the connection between how change and adaptability needs to happen and trust. Then gradually the reality emerged “Oh yes of course, how could you ever perform change without trust?”
We think in terms of economic relations: right now in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic our relationship with healthcare is the priority and then the economic crisis and then God knows what more is coming.
What is coming back in every conversation with business people, with students, with political leaders, with economists, is the concept of trust.
Some countries are in strict lockdown such as Italy and Spain, and there you see the cooperation between people and city and government, a relation based on trust and conforming to very drastic rules because we trust you and that you are working in our best interested and that this is the best thing to do now.
The idea of trust is sometimes easy to pronounce , asking the question “can I trust you?” assuming that actually I am a recipient of your trust,
very few times is the question asked “can I do anything to become trust worthy and gain the privilege of receiving your trust.”
When I flip the question to — how can I be a recipient of your trust — then I will use all my powers to become worthy of that status, to gain your trust I will look at my behaviours and examine what will create and what will break trust people need to have in me.
Each of us can do something to gain the trust of others and build this relation of trust.
When we talk about creating a community, about being cooperative, the idea of reciprocity that is essential to a thriving community, when we talk about justice in a community, we cannot talk about all of this without talking about trustworthiness.
Right now (and likely in the future) we live under the strain of uncertainity. We don’t know, we are lost and unaware of what might be next, this is when we need “shelter” in the broader sense, where we are seeking protection.
In the midst of all of this uncertainty we need to decide what to do next:
this is when having a clear framework can help us most to advance.
In that change management course we asked two questions:
what has changed in your life during the crisis ?
how would you like the crisis to affect positively your life?
The crisis never comes at the “right moment”,
we never receive a crisis in the best situation, in the best frame of mind for me to address that crisis. In a crisis the order is disrupted and put upside down, shaking everything, the crisis becomes what flips the balance of things.
We took the future status for granted, but we realize how much effort will be required to build that future and how the future will in any case be different from what we hoped for.
We also realize that the effort is not just worth it but necessary to cope and build at least a short term future, which we hope builds the foundation for a better longer term future.
We need to be aware that we are building something, something new and better. The effort will be both an indidivaul and a collective effort to reveal something — do we want to go back to normal? We should be questioning what is normal and then create a new and better normal that serve us all more effectively and justly.
So this is an ideal subject for social discourse.
The term “rebuilding” implies that the people in power will shift the rebuilding in one direction or another, so we have an opportunity to influence the direction of the rebuild. This is a catalyst moment. Questioning the moral narrative of our system is now more important than ever.
In the current systems with a lack of justice at the political, news, information level we have witnessed an erosion of trust and a loss of confidence in the system. There are consequences to frameworks and right now we are assigning more to consequences of having money than to the lives of people.
Here is where the fundamental element of a framework becomes evident:
every human , every individual has the obligation and right to seek the truth, independent investigation of the truth is a right, you have the capacity to do so and should do so. Trust is intimately connected to the concept of truth
How do frameworks come about?
you have existing frameworks say work ethics, cultural unwritten norms. For example as soon as you enter a new country you read up, what are the local customs, when you say this what does it mean in that country, but in the current instability entirely new frameworks can be built and that is why we need to understand them very well.
A framework is like a structure,
you have a conceptual framework, you need to have certain principles, certain topics that frame the concept, for example equality between man and woman to then create activities driven by those principles.
The conceptual framework gives raise for a framework to action.
The framework defines the things you believe, that sustain the structures, that give raise to patterns, that will hold the entire believing system.
in the mental framework of free market lies the basis of competition, competition drives the free market, the alternative is communism where the state leads and there is no competition.
In this framework the concept is that competition stimulates the best of people and best of companies, helps create the best products that people want most, that will drive prices lower when more is produced.
Competition then drives economy.
However sometimes frameworks can set up on lies at worse or on shaky assumptions at best.
A lot of economic papers are defined by assumptions we have about what is good: does focusing on competition deliver on innovation? Or does it stifle it? If you had all the time in the world in a non-competitive world perhaps you would spend more effort in innovation and makes things better not faster?
Words such as efficiency have a moral value behind them, is efficiency saving money, saving man power, developing the full potential of individuals?
What efficiency will be prioritise?
Knowing how to find out the moral value that underlie that framework will help us unravel and really understand in depth.
Frameworks and structures to organise things can be oppressive or they can be freeing Frameworks can stifle your mind to think in a certain way, they create implicit or explicit laws as we all bought into this collective thought.
What frees each of us is the element of a reflective practice.
We need to deeply analyse how a framework affects each of us and then make changes based on those reactions. We can free ourselves most by understanding what is important to us before we analyze the current and future frameworks. With that personal knowledge we are in a much better position to adapt it to our and our society’s most important needs and principles.
We need to make a framework explicit, by breaking it down its principles, its foundations, the effect it has on us and on others is what we should do to understand and then improve, not just accept.
This process of understanding is best done in consultation with others.
It is only through that shared understanding that the framework will allow for the necessary unified action.
What can give us most energy living in unstable frameworks / times?
Oscar Rosa offered
“I look at what is guiding me now, it is the whole concept of hope — not just siting and waiting for something to happen. Hope for me is based on a beautiful principle that “the hope of the future of humankind is based on the fundamental concept of the spiritual reality of men and the nobility inherent in every human being”
In everyone of us is more than just a physical and economic reality, we are more than anything else a social animal — we are in essence a reflection of something that is divine that can reflects love, compassion, friendliness.
We are what neither animals, nor stones, nor tress can reflect, they do reflect other beautiful qualities but the kindness the forgiveness, the trustworthiness these elements are only present in humans.”
What give us hope in our collective future is the inherent nobility in every human being, the capacity of humans to contribute to collaborate to be united.
That is what is sustaining me and giving me hope for the future.