What is framing? We are not referring to the act of throwing someone under the bus or setting up an individual. According to Wikipedia, framing is a schema of interpretation, a collection of anecdotes and stereotypes, that individuals rely on to understand and respond to events. In other words, people build a series of mental “filters” through biological and cultural influences. They then use these filters to make sense of the world. The choices they then make are influenced by their creation of a frame. “This is beginning to sound like a class on management communication.” Hahaha! Simply put framing is the use of preconceived ideas to interpret information.
Framing is mainly predominant in media communication. However, managers also fall victim to this dogma. In the article”Framing Theory” by Shraddha Bajracharya, She cites one of the simplest examples of framing. She said: There is a story of a tiger attacking a girl and a man saving the girl by killing the tiger. Here, the media shows the man as brave until he is known to be a Muslim. After that, the media tells that the tiger was playing with the girl when the Muslim attacked it and killed an innocent tiger. Media can twist the story anyway to set propaganda and make people believe in their version of the story.
Framing may be a mental shortcut to making decisions and this is where a lot of managers fall victim. During the Analysis of Business problem class, the case movie “Eye in the sky” is used to shed more light on this heuristic. The simplest description of the movie is done by Bleecker Street (IMDB) “Colonel Katherine Powell (Dame Helen Mirren) is a U.K.-based military officer in command of a top-secret drone operation to capture terrorists in Kenya. Through remote surveillance and on-the-ground intel, Powell discovers the targets are planning a suicide bombing and the mission escalates from “capture” to “kill”. But as American pilot Lieutenant Steve Watts (Aaron Paul) is about to engage, a nine-year-old girl enters the kill zone triggering an international dispute, reaching the highest levels of U.S. and British government, over the moral, political, and personal implications of modern warfare.”
The brief synopsis puts our conversation into context. This is not a moral debate or a question of “who is good?” or ” who is bad?”. This is a matter of framing. The case was a very simple one for the government officials. Observe the arrest of alleged terrorists but the plot thickened. The alleged terrorists entered an Al-Shabab-controlled region. The mission evolved to a kill mission. The framing part plays out in the following instances:-
Colonel Powell manipulated the numbers to trigger a decision, The minister was swayed from no strike to strike based on the information framed. The MP convinced herself the airstrike was a bad idea even with glaring information.
This tells us one thing, even with multiple information we can still fall prey to framing. To make better decisions we must be deliberate in finding this frames.