I like frameworks. Maybe it’s the scientist in me or maybe it’s just the chemist in me. I don’t know. But I do like frameworks. Strategic frameworks, communication frameworks, operations frameworks. You name…it I like it.
I like frameworks because they can help to make complicated matters simpler; I like them because they enable conversations and I like them because they can be long lasting. For example, a strategic framework provides a picture of how a range of activities are connected to achieve an overall outcome. The activities themselves will inevitably vary from time to time – normally based on unexpected or unprintable internal or external events – but the framework should always stay constant.
Operations frameworks should allow prioritisation of our actions whilst ensuring we balance our internal (process) components and our external (customer) needs.
And communication frameworks. Well I guess that I like these because they help me get over messages I want to share in a successful way. There was a time when I would plan my communication – especially spoken communication – to a significant level of detail. I stopped doing this partly because I just didn’t have enough time to do such preparation, and partly because I convinced myself that I sounded too scripted…and after all I was reading from a script…albeit one I had written myself!
Once I abandoned a script, I quickly realised I needed a framework of sorts to communicate through. A framework that allowed me to get over any messages I wanted to share…whilst ensuring – best possible – that I would keep within my allocated time. The most obvious version of a communication framework would be a slide deck used in a presentation, but I tend to apply the same approach to any occasion.
And although my communication frameworks vary from situation to situation, I always have one. They vary not least because situations vary. I could be meeting in person or by telecom. I could be meeting with five people or fifty. And of course the moment could be business or personal, good news or not so good news.
In most situations, my communication framework will involve three things. It could be more or less, but three tends to work well…and three is enough for me to remember without writing them down. I just have to remember what they are, and the order. And then for each one I say what comes to mind…and make sure I keep an eye on a nearby clock.
This last week I had to make an announcement – by teleconference to three different teams – that someone was leaving…a close colleague who we will all miss but who we all know is absolutely doing the right thing for himself and for his family.
I needed a framework…and decided on ‘three ships’. Leadership. Followership. Friendship. I knew ‘three ships’ was a corny concept at best, but it ensured I remembered the three themes I wanted to cover…and the order I wanted to cover them in. Leadership is what we see in an individual – it is an ability to inspire and to encourage. Followership is what we experience when we see or hear a true leader…the urge to follow them where they want to go; to help achieve what they want to achieve. Leadership and Followership are an amazing combination. Only select few people demonstrate them both so strongly.
And friendship. Friendship is very different. It is how another person makes us feel. How good they make us feel and how much they help us. Best friends at work are rare…and are special people.
Losing a best friend from work…no matter how good the reason…is tough.