Entrepreneur of the Week: Framers

Rob Meesen is one of the most well-read entrepreneurs in Limburg. The co-owner of TopChange reads between 250 and 300 books a year. Every week he writes an entrepreneurial book for WijLimburg. Today: ‘Framers’ (Kenneth Cukier, 2021)

Between darkness and defeat, hope survives† †Star warsObi Wan, 2022) frame opens with the story of Regina Barzilay, professor of artificial intelligence at MIT. She trained an algorithm that found the unique copy from a database of more than a hundred million molecules that makes a new super drug possible. There is therefore hope for a successful successor to the traditional antibiotics to which bacteria are becoming more and more resistant. Barzilay called it “halicin” after the stubborn computer HAL from the 2001 sci-fi movie: A space odyssey

Concept designer Colin Cantwell died on May 21 at the age of 90. He contributed to the aforementioned SF film and was also the designer of Death Star, X-wing, Star Destroyer and TIE Fighter in the original Star wars trilogy. Barzilay and Cantwell are so-called framers who used their cognitive freedom to choose new mental models.


Mental models are representations of reality that provide insight into the world, the glasses through which you see issues, your knowledge of how the world works. Mental models create order. “The mental models we choose and apply are frameworks: they determine how we perceive the world and how we act,” says Kenneth Cukier. Frames are more than a person’s personal angle. They are reusable cognitive templates. Frameworks make it possible to generalize and abstract, after which one can apply the results to other situations. Frames enlarge certain elements and minimize others. Frames simplify reality, but they are not simple versions of the world. Framing is dreaming within limits. Mental models permeate everything we do, even when we are not aware of it. What framework you use affects what opportunities you see, what decisions you make, and what results you achieve. When you get better at framing, you get better results. This ensures that you recognize the possibilities more easily and faster. It simplifies, strengthens and strengthens your worldview so that you can act within that framework “, according to Cukier, Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Francis de Véricourt. They had with them The computer economy (https://topchange.nl/de-data-economie-victor-mayer-schonberger-en-thomas-ramge/) already a bestseller in 2018 and frame hopefully it will be. The fate of mankind depends on it. The book offers hope between darkness and defeat.

Unique human ability

In their manual for thinking smarter, the authors make it clear that people are better at framing than computers. It is a unique human ability. Framing is a process of strict thinking and limited imagination. Frameworks contain a triad of dimensions: causality, counterfactual (counterfactual thinking) and constraints. The authors use compelling case stories to show you how to become a better framer: expand your repertoire of frames, develop your curiosity through cognitive foraging, and in extreme cases, take a leap into the cognitive unknown. “Even though AI now makes better decisions than humans and steals our jobs, algorithms and computers can not hit. AI is ingenious at answering questions that are asked of it, but framers ask questions that have never been formulated before. Computers only work in a world that already exists, people live in worlds that they envision using frameworks. ”

Regina Barzilay’s success arose because she asked an innovative question to an endless database of all the answers. Like the character Trinity in The Matrix it said, “All the answers are there. It’s the question that drives us.” The computer power of the computer can then make the difference for Barzilay.

Examples of business successes

Framing is essential for organizations. According to systems thinker Peter Senge, the exchange of mental models is one of the five disciplines of the learning organization. The book contains many examples of business successes by hitting differently. Like people have done at Apple, Tesla, Spotify and Amazon. The Blue Ocean strategy and disruptive strategies are frameworks for reformulating value propositions and revenue models. The authors emphasize that framing in the first place does not require thinking outside the box. The starting point is our current mental model. Framing allows our thoughts to wander in a structured, purposeful and delimited way. The magic is in the box right now. Sticking to a proven mental model is often a standard strategy that works well. Sometimes you have to deviate from the standard and change the framework.

Keep in mind that this requires a lot of cognitive energy, it is necessary to distance yourself from the old framework, and timing is crucial to provide a new framework with momentum. Changing frameworks requires effort and is risky. Like pioneers, you can recognize reframers on the arrows in the back. It takes courage to take a cognitive step.

Framework as a compromise

In recent chapters, the authors passionately argue for framework pluralism. “The world is a complex place, and one framework cannot provide the right solution to all problems. Basically, every frame is a compromise. The fewer constraints, the more counterfacts a frame can generate. It offers more comprehensive options. The more constraints there are, the fewer options a framework provides. This promotes the concentration of the decision maker, but increases the risk of blind spots. Coexisting frameworks are necessary to preserve humanity. Tolerating a multitude of different frameworks increases the chances of society making progress. The goal of framework pluralism is precisely that frameworks compete with each other, complement each other, contradict each other and coexist. There is no such thing as a bad frame, only frames that do not match the conditions well. The only bad frame is a frame that negates other frames. Simple frames of truth pose a real danger because humanity is so receptive to them. When there are few frames, or only one dominant frame, the chances increase that we fall into a mental trap, fail to solve our problems and see, like the inhabitants of ancient kingdoms and remote islands, our civilization being destroyed by our inability to to cope with us. . respond. We have to accept that frames collide and find ways to turn that friction into something positive. Humanity is not locked into one reality, but can enjoy the reality it decides to create. ”

For dessert, the reader is presented with a compact guidebook with five hopeful clues to make a thousand frames flourish. So you increase your problem-solving capacity, become more innovative and better understand the world around you. Learn to frame!

Respond? rob.meesen@topchange.nl

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