Five Facts About Framing

by Scott London

A few days ago I spoke at the Distruptive Innovation Festival (DIF), a wonderful event organized by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in London. I took part in a session on “How to Frame Your Message (and Why You Should)” along with author Ken Webster and interviewer Emma Fromberg.

Scott London DIF 2016

Recapping some of what I talked about, here are five things to know about framing:

  1. The practice of framing is based on the fact that the way we think and how we interpret information is determined to a large extent by unconscious frames of reference.
  2. As a society, it’s difficult to embrace new frames when our understanding of the world is shaped by limited and outdated frames from the past.
  3. Framing has a crucial role to play in advancing new ideas and solutions. It’s especially valuable when there are different diagnoses of a problem and different prescriptions for how to fix it. It establishes a variety of viewpoints and understandings. Getting those out in the open is an essential step in addressing an issue or solving a problem.
  4. “Framing” is often used as a synonym for “spinning” or “messaging,” which is unfortunate. The process is sometimes aimed at packaging ideas or manipulating messages in order to win influence or advance a cause. This may help people think in new ways, but it can also breed cynicism and confusion.
  5. The most effective frames are those that speak to universal ideals and aspirations, such as freedom, security and fairness. They help us to create a sense of shared purpose by shifting our focus from fixed positions to common interests.

Below is a short excerpt from our conversation. For the full session, go to: How to Frame Your Message (and Why You Should)