Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Green Framing All The Things!

This will appear to be a strange subject to post about considering my other content, but I recently went through a positive thinking reset, and I was surprised and amazed by some of the results, so I thought I would share.

Back last year while speaking to a customer I was informed about a training program their organisation did which among other things discussed behaviour in meetings and referred to "framing things" and visualising positive approaches as "green", and to not bring closed thinking to a discussion, which would be considered "red".  At the time I thought it was an interesting approach, although I didn't think too much about it because it was not a program I had been involved in.

A few weeks later I was reading some articles about positive thinking and came across some interesting philosophies which led to me discussing some of the concepts at a local meetup group, and this discussion developed into me borrowing the "framing" concept I had heard about previously to coin the phrase "Green Framing".

Caveat - I fully realise "Green Framing" is not my personal invention but in fact collection of stolen concepts, for which I have attempted to reference the original authors where possible :)

The first rule of Green Framing is easy - frame things in a positive way, just like the original meeting concept was explained to me.  Don't be dismissive or negative towards anything.  There is a famous quote by Henry Ford who said -

 "Whether you think you can, or you think you can't, either way you're right"

- I know, it is a bit of a cliché  but when you think about it, its true, its all too easy to be pessimistic and dismissive of something rather than have the courage to face something difficult to achieve.

One of the things I found inspiring around the time was a talk by Jane McGonigal, in which among other amazing things she also highlights the negativity bias of the brain, and how we should exercise a 3:1 ratio of positive thoughts to negative thoughts.  I have more recently read an article on LifeHacker about rewiring the brain for positivity which emphasises some of the same points raised by Jane.

Rule two of Green Framing is about identifying and measuring success in smaller increments than which you should measure problems or issues.  This sounds like common-sense  but I had never really thought about it, and in fact this concept is what led me to get most excited about Green Framing.  Basically it is about celebrating the success you have by clearly identifying, and not becoming complacent about it.  Likewise, don't be bogged down by problems, just identify them, come up with a plan to solve them, and then execute that plan.  This is definitely not about ignoring problems - its just a reminder that you produce success and encounter problems on a daily basis, and that you should not fixate on the pessimistic outcomes.

The third rule, which I consider a life foundation generally is respect for others.  Regardless of Green Frames or whatever, respect and politeness are paramount to social interaction, and should always exist.

The other aspects of Green Framing are borrowed from Jane's talk as mentioned above:

  • Take time out for physical exercise - When I can I do some sailing or cycling on the weekend
  • Take a break to do some unrelated mental exercise - Sometimes I like to do a quiz on Sporcle at lunch time
  • Interact socially with others - enjoy time spent with your family, engage with your friends, or interact with peers - one of the things I have grown to really value over the last few years are the acquaintances (I now consider friends) gained through meetup groups around my home town.    

So as you can see, there isn't really that much to Green Framing, it is certainly not a silver bullet to solve all your problems.  In my case I use the term "Green Frame" simply as a mnemonic to remind me to excercise some of these techniques, for which it is easy to fall out of practice with.  There is a blog post I sometimes refer back to by Justin Hennessy on An Agile Team Reset which I like because it reminds us of the need to pause and reflect on our core values, so that we can cultivate higher value results with our core beliefs acting as a foundation.  In a way this is how I see Green Framing - as a reminder of what my core values should be.

This leads to my more recent revival of the Green Frame concept.  I was recently involved in some challenging workshops at a customer site which involved a number of representatives from different parts of the business. Some of these staff had developed  some friction between themselves that led to some awkward, and at times heated communication.  I'm not sure where my courage came from, but after a break in proceedings I raised the concept of "Green Framing", and suggested that we each in turn should communicate to the rest of the group why we "love" the project, and I then spoke about the attributes of the project which I valued most, and what I was looking forward to in regard to future outcomes of the project.  The results were amazing, because we could see that everyone had a lot of energy and belief in the project, and that it was just frustration and misguided passion that was leading to the previous negativity.  The net result was that the workshop session that followed was amazingly positive, with lots of valuable outcomes.

This was such a strange subject for me to write about, but the result after applying a Green Frame approach to clear the air in the recent meeting was so profound that it inspired me to write this post.

Sorry for all the words, I apologise in advance for any tl;drs.    

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