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July 16, 2008

The power of the premise...

I am a big fan of Kiyosaki's Rich Dad / Poor Dad book series; and I have put these principles into practice in my own life and career with great effect.

However, maybe I am a bit cynical but I am pretty confident that his "Rich Dad" didn't say a third of the things that he has attributed to him. But it is a great premise isn't it. An ongoing conversation between people who think like wealthy people think and people who think like the eternally poor think.

This, along with the practical and motivating advice in these books, are the real reason for success. He (Kiyosaki) never says or implies anything, his "Rich Dad" who died wealthy and happy does.

This act of framing a topic, and of providing a premise that can be used for explaining a theme, is a tool that I have used continually through my own career. And once I actually worked out what it was, I started to see it everywhere.

Framing is referred to in Wikipedia (which is always true of course) as " a schema for interpretation". (referring to the social sciences) A premise (in film making) is a fundamental concept that drives the plot.

Thinks of some recent examples:
  •  The War on Terror, The Axis of Evil. Creates the premise of the conversation, they're the bad guys; we're the good guys etc. Framing was used very well in the lead up to the war in Iraq, and it is being used equally well int eh lead up to the next federal election.
  • Universal health care - A statement that when it is made never really means "Universal" just "most", or "a lot of". But the words frame the topic, and it is heard as total coverage.
  • Much of Googles' objection to Microsoft's ownership of Yahoo was framed in terms of Microsofts monopoly. Yet they neglected to mention their near monopoly on online advertising. (Great distraction that one was)
I use framing techniques for explaining many of the concept sI need to get across. If a client is finding a concept difficult to implement, but I see it as fundamental to improving their situation, then I frame it as sophisticated, and use the opportunity to speak about how this will help the company to increase knowledge in this area or another.

Safety, in the engineering world, is used as a frame of reference for many arguments as it is a very strong way to build a case in most companies. (Nobody goes to work trying to kill anyone)

A premise of succession planning can be used to implement certain elements of employee assessments and so on. This isn't slight of hand, or dishonest, it is just a consulting tool for helping to get things done.
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