When I first started this blog, my aim was to introduce the business problem-solving technique to solve personal problems. I was amazed at how people are stronger in their professional decision-making and their ability to adapt to professional settings, but they found it difficult to be flexible in a personal scenario. Mirroring the same business decision-making process, I wanted to introduce the idea of frames and mental models for daily life decisions. Therefore, I divided life into 4 pillars: health, network, skills and purpose. Those four aspects should work in parallel to reach success. Recently, I was professionally asked to read a book called framers by Kenneth Cukier, Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, and Francis de Véricourt. After reading this book, I realized that a post should be written to explain directly this concept.
What is framing?
Frames and mental models are innate human mental cognitive abilities. It is the way, we interpret life and make sense of it. Scientists and children rely heavily on mental models to understand the world’s dynamics. Examples of mental models or frames: Religion, feminism, and supply vs demand. A frame relies on 3 elements for its existence: Causality, Imagination and Constraints.
Causality is the cause-effect relationship. Humans use causality to simplify and make sense of the world dynamic. Those causalities might not be 100% accurate, but we still rely on them in our decision-making. For example: Turning on the AC will reduce the temperature in the room.
Humans are the only creature that is able to imagine future scenarios. Let’s take a look at the children’s learning process. During their playtime, children rely on their imagination to discover the world. They imagine themself in their house cooking and serving tea to their guest and talking on the phone to an imaginary someone. The human ability to imagine was the reason behind many creations such as airplanes. For instance: Scientist used their imagination to design apollo 11 and make it the first spaceflight to land on the moon, knowing that back at that time no one had a close look at the moon.
Our imagination can go in limitless directions. To prevent chaos and direct our imagination, we use constraints. Constraints could be our values, beliefs or resources. For example in the case of an unplanned pregnancy: a none religious woman might have an abortion as an option, but a very conservative religious woman won’t. In this example, the belief was the constraint that eliminated an option for the religious woman.
Why understanding our framing background is important
Consciously or unconsciously, we are using our mental models to take decisions. When the decision is critical or major, our framing becomes more explicit such as buying a house. Before deciding on the house to buy, we look into the market prices, evaluate our financial abilities, understand mortgages and consider other alternatives. For a small decision, if your child is nagging and crying for his second chocolate of the day, very conscious health parents will automatically say no without deep analysis. While there is no such thing as a bad frame, a misused frame might exist. Misusing a frame might lead to an unwanted result. Therefore, If we are getting an unwanted result, it would be good to go back to the origin and change the frame.
Importance of Diversity and Openness
Our frames are built through experience, background, culture and surroundings. With your whole package, you will be able to see a piece of life. Spending time with a diversity of people from different backgrounds, such as different cultures or industries, will help broaden your perspective. Broadening your perspective will increase your imagination giving you wider options and will increase the number of frames in your portfolio. No wonders why companies have a strict policy when it comes to diversity and inclusion. With diverse backgrounds comes conflict as priority differs. Being able to see through the conflict and take the essence behind the contradictory frames is a powerful ability that flexes your mind and is a great recipe for growth.
Frames and mental models is a built-in human cognitive capability. Humans use it consciously or unconsciously to understand the world around them and make decisions. It is important to understand this process so we can reframe it to gain better results in life. Opening up to a diversity of people will stretch our perspective giving us wider opportunities.
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To understand the reason behind our decision-making and to identify our frames: The 7 why- Uncover the Root Cause could be used.