Reframing is often the process of finding a partner who can see PERFECTLY something that is hidden to us. It is often obvious… because to them it is extraordinary and to you…
PERFECT partners help us Reframe our perspective to one that is helpful
Walking into our Executive’s office that afternoon, we were in big trouble, summoned by our boss to join him – NOW. As we came in, we were scolded that the Safety Engineer had turned us in with a memo. A large computer Terminal was on top of our bookcase – 6 feet in the air – and weighing nearly 60 lbs, had a coax cable wrapped around it that was about to be caught in the door, which could have killed us…
… so we of course went and looked and were amazed that he was right! And we fixed it immediately – as neither wanted to be crushed by something so obsolete yet appropriately named. We had never noticed in our focus on other things each day, and pointing it out was extremely helpful. And – we then wondered – why didn’t he simply warn us in the moment? Wouldn’t it have actually been safer to reframe writing a memo into partnering with us and preventing the issue immediately? Yes – and it wasn’t PERFECT.
How do partners Reframe PERFECT?
The Mississippi Delta is one of the most mythical places for lovers of 20th-century popular music. Here a number of black men and women shaped the most influential music of the 20th century, singing about their sorrows and tragedies, in a territory totally hostile to them, They weren’t seeking PERFECT, but Reframed their terrible surroundings into the Blues. Son House stepped into that opportunity and produced a few records in the early ’30s, but didn’t get any traction.
After the death of his friend, and Blues rival, Charley Patton (who taught Pops Staples) in 1934, Son House retired from music and then began working as a tractor driver on various plantations. And it would have likely ended there, without partners pursuing him. In 1941 Alan Lomax sought him out to record for the Library of Congress. In August 1941 at Klack’s Store, Mississippi, House was accompanied by his partners Willie Brown on guitar, Fiddlin’ Joe Martin on mandolin, and Leroy Williams on harmonica. If they had been plugged in this would be a sound very close to the Chicago blues that Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf would make famous 20 years later.
Reframing is how you examine dysfunctional beliefs
Our safety engineer had mistaken his role to be writing memos ABOUT safety, versus actually helping us BE safe. His observing that we had the issue was very helpful, but his focusing on PERFECT vs partnering was not. I have tried over the years to Reframe this story to be more positive, but I find it is all too typical of measurements in organizations. Without a consistent focus on partnering – what do we agree on, how can we work together – Reframing is more often blame-shifting or keeping score, a less than PERFECT culture no matter who “wins”.
What partners help you Reframe PERFECTLY?
A key skill in Design Thinking, Reframing is hard to do by yourself. As with noticing the cable that we walked past every day, an “outsiders” partner perspective is critical. Cultivating the ability to do that for yourself may be complex, but the easiest step is to start to do it for, and with, others. As they are rethinking about options, pointing out a different perspective, typically a positive one that they have dismissed, can be the PERFECT approach. The horrific life they experienced comes out in the moan here that sparked a revolution that Reframed music and eventually life. The Levee Camp Moan.