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The Benefit Of Frameworks
By Barry Otterholt

The hardest part of a problem is understanding it. Once you understand it, you are much more apt to solve it. But many problems are unfamiliar; you’ve not experienced them before. That’s where frameworks become a useful aid. Frameworks have been created by other people that have encountered your problems and put some dimension to them, in order that they may be solved more easily in the future.

A framework can come in many forms; a checklist, a template, a flowchart, a financial model, a chart. The key is to find one that is a close fit with your specific situation; one that gives you a way to see the problem that makes it solvable.

One widely used framework is the ISO Open Systems Interconnection architecture (OSI) which organizes technology into a model that assists in the design of the IT organization and also in determining performance measures.

Another familiar framework is the nutrition pyramid, which organizes the primary food groups into an easily-understood picture, allowing people to eat healthier.

Frameworks are different than methodologies. Whereas methodologies provide a set of processes that serve as a road map through a wide range of situations, a framework is more of a blueprint for a specific situation.

Frameworks are available through a variety of sources. The easiest way to find one is simply to Google on a key term or phrase and see what comes up. You can then click on Images when the results are returned, since many frameworks are presented as a graphic or picture. Another way to find a fitting framework is to join an online group of similar interest, and ask them for one. groups are proving to be an increasingly popular source of professional groups and connections. Also most consultancies have their own frameworks to help them navigate a client situation and if hired, will share them with you.

So if you are struggling to get your arms around a problem, search for a framework that will help you see the problem in a solvable way. The more time you take to understand the problem, the less time it will take to solve it. And the better you understand the problem, the more insightful your opinions will be.

Barry Otterholt, CMC, PMP

Barry Otterholt has been a project management specialist and coach for the past 30 years. He is a Certified Management Consultant (CMC) and a Project Management Professional (PMP). He works with both public and private sector companies in the USA, Europe and Scandinavia. Mr. Otterholt was a Director with Microsoft, a senior consultant with Deloitte Consulting, and a COO with a nationwide consumer electronics enterprise. In 1988 he founded Public Knowledge, LLC to provide independent management and operational support to the public sector. More recently, he founded Stouffer & Company, LLC to provide as-needed project management services to fill an obvious skills gap in both private and public sectors.

Mr. Otterholt is an adjunct professor teaching project management at Northwest University. His essays on project management have been published in PMI newsletters. His runs a blog, Project Management Essays, where he muses about various project management topics.

Mr. Otterholt is a member of the Institute of Management Consultants (IMC) and the Project Management Institute (PMI). He has a BA in Accounting and Computer Science and an MBA in Business Administration. He lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

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