In the areas of organisational development and research I have had cause to become concerned by our use of ‘frameworks’ – those conceptual structures that enable us to think and communicate ideas. At a conference I attended recently nearly every presentation had a framework on a PowerPoint slide through which the experience and research of the presenter was poured. I had a similar experience in reading some student’s work. I am not against frameworks, they are a vital means by which we understand and communicate about our world. However, there needs to be more critical engagement with them. This can be done simply asking the question: “How does this framework both help and hinder the objective of my research/analysis”. Without better understanding and challenge of the assumptions that exist just under the surface of these frameworks there will be poorer quality research and decisions about organisations and their people.
As the philosopher Karl Popper once said: ‘
We are prisoners caught in the framework of our theories, our expectations, our past experience, our language’.