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The value of the frame

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Phil Swann, Si Managing Director writes

It was a great idea. The drawing tutor suggested that I should begin by drawing a frame on the paper defining the area in which I was going to draw. It really helped me to think about and work with scale and perspective in a more productive way. A constraining act was in fact liberating.

Thinking about it later, the tutor’s advice reminded me of the storyline in most episodes of Sex and the City. Early on in each show, after some initial scene-setting action, the main character Carrie Bradshaw would sit at her laptop trying to make sense of what was happening. She would capture the theme of that episode. It was generally in the form of a question to which she would return in the final scene. She was framing the focus, giving the story some coherence.

In its own way each episode of the hit American TV series was a masterclass in consultancy. If it is to be effective a consultancy or research assignment must have a coherent frame. There must clarity about what the primary task is, about what the key lines of enquiry are. The more challenging the task, the more difficult the territory, the more important this is.

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