You’ve Been Framed

January 27, 2014 Post Comment Uncategorised
A right how do you do
I’ve had a number of instances in this past week
where I’m particularly reminded of what it is I do, or what it is I endeavour
to do, or what I say it is in terms of answering the question, “So what do you
Needless to say, it’s this: “I coach processes; I mentor
people; I change perceptions”
Now, the ‘What do you do’ question is fairly
standard, especially in meet-up
contexts – from business networking, right down to filling in your registration
form for e-Harmony!
However, regarding the matter of questions about ourselves, I’d like to shift
the frame we generally put around the commonest meet-type question of all, “How
do you do?”
These days, where parlance is much looser than in
the past, HDYD (to give it a con-textual acronym) is more likely to be “How Are
You?” or, more expansively, “How are you being?” or, textually, RUOK?
When I refer to framing it is about the meaning and
focus put upon any course of thought or action.
So, in practical terms with (say) the Greeting Frame, when it comes down to it,
“Are you OK?” is much more the question we get asked when someone sees us slip
and fall. So in framing terms such a question would, very loosely, have just a few
toes of one foot in the Greeting Frame.
Now, in case you’re beginning to feel I’m in a Waffle Frame here, just imagine
the idea of going up to someone who has just slipped and fallen and asking them,
do you do?”
Totally out of context, isn’t it?
Incidentally, if a player I’m coaching makes a
repetitive error in practice, I’ll probably ask – with tongue in cheek, “How do
you do THAT?” 
There’s an implication, a
pre-supposition, that goes with such a question that repetition shows a degree
of acquired competence. So the funny side of dropping the ball a few times is:-
can they please show ME how to do it so I can get as good as they are. The
desired effect usually happens, particularly for these reasons:
  • ·        
    The inner search for ‘how’ they are
    doing it, in order to tell me, gives them insights as to how to change their
    actions for better outcomes
  • ·        
    Realising that the Competence Frame
    includes errors as well as successes
  • ·        
    The ability to laugh at what we do
    disengages the behaviour from our identity
This is one of many examples where for me – as a
coach, mentor or perception changer – the Frames I work in, the Frames I am
DOING what I do in, are hugely important for the people I am working with.

Now, when we meet a rocket scientist, we might ask “How
do you do?” in the Greeting Frame, and “What do You do?” in the Getting-to-know-you
Frame – but I doubt very much if we’ll ask “And How do you do YOUR rocket
Rocket Science is a highly specialised field and,
since most of us operate outside of it, we’ll assume all rocket scientists do
Rocket Science the same way. We’ll have no idea of how many ways there are of
doing it, and what makes one rocket scientist better than another – except perhaps if we know the
successes and failures of their particular rockets. Then we might apply the Judgement
Frame to the rocket scientist we’ve just met!

The “I Know Something” Frame
So here, now, is the point of my going off at a
tangent into rocket science. Most adults know things, through accumulated
knowledge and personal experience. And the trouble with most frames is that
most adults will arrive at “Coaching” or “Learning” and put a big frame around
it called the I-Know-Something Frame.
Dad, can you help me with this bit of homework?”

will be one of the regular instances where adults attempt to bring this Frame into
use. The trouble is there have been some frame changes in this subject since they
were at school, and they’ll look at the homework and be bewildered, or various
other shades of grey matter.
Now there’s another thing about adults and this
particular frame:
They run what the coach, teacher, educator, says past their own knowledge and
experience and then apply Judgement. And Judgement Frame outcomes in this
context can range from “I’m stupid”, “It’s changed a lot since I did it”, “What
a daft way to teach. Why have they changed it” right up to “This is ridiculous.
I’m right and they’re wrong. I’m going to speak to the school.”
Now I’m very comfortable with the philosophy and
rationale behind the way I coach performance, sport, and junior sport in
particular. I’ve crossed many a bridge with certain parental behaviour and attitudes
when it comes to the HOW of some of my methodology – particularly on the
technical side. I’ve written elsewhere mentioning instances of where a child
has said, “My Dad says do it this way …” whilst I’m showing how they might do
it better by “Doing it ANOTHER way …”

I was talking to someone who runs a junior sports club where he struggled to
equate the “I-Know-Something” Framed parents with the money they are paying to
the club he runs. He feels they have a RIGHT to expect “a coaching experience”
for their child in exchange for that money – which is perfectly right and fair of
course. However, they don’t have a right to demand the coach does it the way
that they say it should be

Learning Frame
For me, the Learning Frame looms large over
everything I do with and for clients. And I also put myself in there as well,
for I have learned much from my clients over the years which has been really useful
for me.
Now within the context of Learning, there are many different
types of Frame. Some work better, some are less effective; some are
particularly good for certain individuals, whilst for others a different one would
be the ideal mode of application.
One of the dilemmas with any education system is where
a wide range of unique individuals are taken through a limited number of Learning
Frames. If I say “I liked science but was no good
at languages”
it is the kind of comment that says as much about my Learning
Frames for each subject and the enthusiasm and communication skills of the
teacher, as it does about my innate competence and level of acquired knowledge
and expertise.
Built in to that scenario is our childhood and
schooldays gravitation towards “liking” what we are “good at” and “disliking”
what we are “not good at”.
Yet – how different would things have been if other Learning Frames had been applied
to some of our subjects. Would our likes, dislikes, and competences turned out
in other ways?
We are never taught HOW to learn – or how many
DIFFERENT ways there are to learning.
One of the dilemmas with any adult learning is that we often consider it from
the perspective of our knowledge and experience of Learning Frames in our
I was talking with a client once about how some of their business plans would
involve working abroad in a non-English speaking country. “I’m going to
struggle because I was no good at French at school,” she said. After a little
bit of discussion about certain aspects of her school experience of learning
French, she gained a realisation that a number of factors contributed to her “no good at French-ness”, that had no relevance
to her ability to speak foreign languages per
. This changed her whole perception about her ability to be effective in
business in a non-English speaking country, and enabled her to move forward
with a surety and a confidence she hitherto did not have.

a Gale
In terms of my sports coaching, some of the Learning
Frames I apply are driven by experience and generative self-teaching using
feedback loops. Now that might seem quite a linguistic mouthful – which was not
wholly unintentional!
In practice we’ll do a drill, an exercise, some
activity where the invitation to players is always to notice what is going on,
and notice
how you are reacting
to what is going on. These are all processes, and
we can experiment with processes in
order to make them better. Unless we experiment with processes, how will we ever know if they can work
better or not?
One of our recent rugby matches was played in gale
force winds – probably in excess of 50mph. The physical logic is that, with passes
and kicks, the ball will be blown off course – so a number of physical adjustments
have to be made.
It is rather the same for any kind of adjustments to be made by any athlete in
any sport in terms of adverse conditions.
So the preparatory warm-up for the players needs to incorporate a level of
experimentation. They need to experiment
with applying their skill-sets in the adverse environmental conditions – there needs
to be an Experimental Frame to the warm-up. And one of the primary criteria
of an Experimental Frame is that ALL outcomes are good ones, for they provide
useful and relevant data to the experiment. So, for my rugby players, dropping the
ball in practice is useful – and provided they all buy into that Frame, which
means no cursing or shouting or making judgements about mistakes is necessary, then
they’d get the maximum usefulness AND learning through feedback.
And thus it was in the match – where the players displayed a level of competence
in handling the ball far in excess of what they might have done on a calm day.
We still expected – and permitted – errors, for it was a very fierce wind.
However, the experience of the well-framed warm-up released them from whatever
limitations they may have applied to their expectations of both themselves and
team mates.

Getting to know Your Genius
How we frame up what we do can either throw open
doors or have those same doors slammed in our faces. Being flexible with our
framing can lead to some amazing discoveries and outcomes as well.
One of my first school cricket coaching visits was to
an urban primary school where most of the pupils came from a number of tough council housing estates.
It was a year 5 class, so the children were aged 9-10. We assembled on the
playground and I was introduced to the class. Then, as thirty pairs of eyes
gazed at me, I greeted them with,
“I want you all to know I think you are
all geniuses – but here’s the thing.”

As I paused I noticed, out of the corner of my eye, a look of curiosity and slight
shock from the teachers. It was a look that said, “These kids – geniuses? You
MUST be joking!”
“The thing is you don’t yet know what you
are geniuses at – and part of what we’re going to discover this term is how
much of a genius each of you can be at cricket.”
Then I carried on with outlining
– nay, Framing – the rest of the lesson, in terms of the activities. However,
the scene had been set, the Frame established.
This was going to be fun to do, a voyage of self-discovery,
and all from the pre-supposition of an unknown level of genius. 
You could say it is a pretty good Frame for Life as