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#Decison Making: #Framing

In the last blog I ended with establishing a baseline around decision making, drawing on the Lectical Decision Making Assessment (LDMA) and Russo & Schoemaker (“Winning Decisions”):

  1. Framing: the general goal of the decision maker including the way they think about the knowledge upon which they base their decision
  2. A realistic approach to gathering intelligence
  3. Coming to Conclusions: organising and analysing the information and a way to coordinate different perspectives (weighing)
  4. An approach to communicating and implementing the decision made
  5. Learning from Experience, including a way to measure the decision’s effectiveness so adjustments can be made

It seems that already the first step, Framing, is much undervalued, or even overlooked. The way we frame a problem exerts enormous control over the options we recognize, the data we collect and the solutions we choose.

Poor framing can lead people to sensible-sounding but fundamentally limited views of the world to structure their decision making process. According to Russo & Schoemaker (“Winning Decisions”), we experience frames when we meet people who just seem to immediately understand us. Or in the frustration of trying to talk with others who just don’t seem to get it, no matter how much we try to explain. Cognitive scientist call these different ways of looking at the workd “frames”. They are mental structures that simplify and guide our understanding of a complex reality. Everyone must inevitable adopt some kind of simplifying perspective.

Photo by Alex Ivashenko on Unsplash

But frames themselves don’t just limit our view, they are hard to see and change. If we are too close to your frame, we tend not to see it. Many inexperienced decision makers tend to think that their perspective is all there is.

Through what frame do you view your business? Do you have a relational frame, a transactional one? Is an organisation a legal entity? A set of relationships? A network? A family? Against what frame do you measure your wins and performance? What other metaphors do you use to decribe your business?

The fun thing: we can see that each frame or metaphor has its limits and boundaries, that includes certain aspects and leaves others out. We can start playing around, and reframe.

Photo by meriç tuna on Unsplash

What changes if you change your frame? We are looking at the moment to replace our car. We are playing now to get rid of the frame of ownership which is a hard one to go. With renting, there are whole range of new solutions out there for our decision making process, including options with new technologies, low consumption that were previously out of our reach from the ownership frame.

Russo & Schoemakers advice us to become aware of the frames we use and compare ours to other peoples’ frames. The recommend running a “frame audit” to become aware of our implicit assumptions about our industry, our business, our profession. To define the boundaries and explore the highlights and shadows. To listen to norms, rituals, metophors we and others use and start playing around with them to see what perspectives can shift with different frames.

Some of these reframings are so powerful, that they can actually resolve the problem in the first place. That is some kind of mastery…..

Reference: Russo, J. E. & Schoemaker, P.J.H. (2002): Winning Decisions: Getting it right the first time.

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Transformative Processes and Adaptive Pushback

Why are we resisting transformation?

In the global change arena we see more and more the need for leaders to know about what happens in transformative processes inside out in order to play a different game. It is ironic that our best whole systems thinkers are becoming ever more frustrated at the lack of visible change in response to knowledge and evidence about growing threats to sustainability. The problem is more often than not that the intrinsic mechanisms of transformation are still not widely understood nor mastered. Transformative processes that are supposed to respond to adaptive challenges require a fundamental shift in perspective and meaning. In order to be able to design, catalyze, foster or lead such shifts, leaders need to recognize stages, depth and width of the process, need to identify patterns of systemic pushback, know what to do with immunities to change and how to handle the usual resistances and escape mechanisms. Continue reading

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Publication – Integral Leadership

Jonathan Reams, Anne Caspari (2012) : “Integral Leadership – Generating Space for Emergence through Quality of Presence”, Journal of Wirtschaftspsychologie 3/12


This article outlines a view of integral leadership as integrity with a quality of presence that opens spaces for what wants to emerge. A focus is on describing Heifetz’s notion of adaptive leadership as creating a holding environment for work to be done. This is framed in terms of how integrity, subtle energies and intuition combine with late stage ego development capacities to create a quality of presence that enable requisite spaces to be opened up and held. This view is contextualized in relation to existing discourse in the field and the authors’ experience in leadership development work. In addition to laying a foundation for the view of leadership used, the concept of integral is examined in relation to integrity. This forms the basis for quality of presence, while intuition is shown to be an essential function in the author’s conception of integral leadership. Intuition is explored in relation to stages of cognitive/ego development, which are also explored in terms of their function and contribution to integral leadership. Future lines of inquiry arising from this conception are presented.

Key words: construct aware, integral, integrity, intuition, leadership

Zeitschrift Wirtschaftspsychologie-3-2012


Working with Resistance – a praxis paper.

Working with Resistance – When Reality hits, use its Force

Follow the intensity of your resistance down to its source and sure enough you will find a treasure.

“The difficulty we have in accepting responsibility for our behavior lies in the desire to avoid the pain of the consequences of that behavior” M. Scott Peck

With transformation work, encountering and overcoming resistances is an intrinsic part of the game. In coaching and facilitating transformative change, people naturally face stages of resistance, fear and confusion. This will inevitably trigger escape and protection mechanisms of the self/Self system that come in a multitude of shapes, sizes and flavours.

Many of these take the form of well-rehearsed identities (e.g.spiritual identities, cynical attitudes, attack of coach or method, sudden shift of priorities) that are designed to ‘protect’the coachee from the suspected pain of re-owning deeper lying disassociated parts (shadows). These defence mechanisms can easily sabotage the transformative process. In many cases, the coachee is not aware of these phenomena, but rather strongly identified with them. Kegan and Lahey (2009) define this as “Immunity to Change”, a “hidden commitment”, with an underlying root cause, that competes and conflicts with a stated commitment to change. It is these hidden commitments that cause people to not change and to fail to realise their best intentions. It takes experience to spot such phenomena and to defuse or utilize any deviating construct arising in the space appropriately, in real time. Continue reading


Shifting Personal Reality

Shifting Personal Reality

The ability to shift personal reality in one’s self and the competency to assist others with their transformation is one of the basic skills for integral mentoring of any kind. This can apply to individual work with leaders, ‘trim tabs’ and change agents, or to collective work with stakeholder groups, organizations  or NGOs. The kind of assistance needed depends on many different factors, such as the unique action logic or kosmic address of everybody involved  (see previous post) and, of course, on the nature of the task ahead.

Yet despite the abundant variables, transformational change follows a very recognizable blueprint that, much like a wave, keeps its pattern integrity. We encounter this archetypal pattern everywhere, a cultural software of the human species. Its epic version is masterfully described in Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey.

The more post-modern version is Scharmer’s U Process for collective transformation and prototyping. The smaller day to day or moment to moment encounter with transformation, like changing a destructive habit, overcoming fear or shadow work either go unobserved or are subject to a myriad of self-help books. Continue reading


Mapping Transformative Processes with AQAL and Theory U

Mapping Transformation

In international development we see it more and more the need for leaders to play a new game. It is ironic that our best whole systems thinkers are becoming ever more frustrated at the lack of visible change in response to knowledge and evidence about growing threats to sustainability. The problem is, that while many experts and change agents are getting frustrated ‘with banging their heads against the same old walls’ in the exterior quadrants (UR & LR), the dynamics and mechanisms of how to go about genuine transformation are still not widely understood. Continue reading