Back in June, I said that I would put framing at the top of the list on ‘leadership tasks’.
I also said that we, in business organizations, completely underestimate the power of (mental and behavioural) framing to trigger and sustain behaviours, emotions, ways of doing etc.
What about framing of the overall narrative of the organization.
Well, here are some frames:
- Enhance shareholder value
- Solve health problems|
- Improve quality of life
- Transform the way medicine works
- Enhance life
- Provide innovative medicines
- Discover new treatments
- Make drug treatment affordable
- Save lives
I have deliberately taken an example of a pharmaceutical company to make the point that:
- All of the above are theoretically compatible
- But the frames are different, what you do is different, your priorities are different, the people you attract is different. All the frames are like roads taking you to different places.
It’s not a simple question of ‘language’. It’s a view of the world, a concept of the world, in fact, a ‘space in the world’ (my preferred frame) that is different. Use the excuse ‘it’s all the same’ at your peril. It’s not.
Using the same example of a pharma company, I personally would like to hear how many lives you save, how many people are treated, how many kids are vaccinated, for example, as opposed to, say, how many R&D plants you have and how many people worldwide you employ. But that is just me.
These frames are completely different: solving, creating, building, modifying, inventing, providing, reforming, reorganizing etc. Choose your frame before the frame, by default, chooses you. Then you are stuck with it.
That words matter is not a novel idea. However we treat narratives as aesthetic statements in their own right, not as triggers of behaviours.
For me, ‘building’ always wins. I am genetically unable to get up in the morning to ‘reform’ or to ‘increase shareholder value’. Yet, these may be serious needs for many.
I respect that. But don’t wake me up.