Making Your Framework

Some simple advice for making your own framework, inspired by Storybrand

In web app development, perhaps the best known “framework” is Bootstrap. It makes it easier to build a web app’s “front end”, which is what you are looking at right now. The Symfony framework, on the other hand, lets you build an app’s backend. Still other frameworks, such as Ruby on Rails, help you build both. 

These “computing frameworks” save massive amounts of time, heartache, and risk by providing you, the web/app maker, with rock-solid, standardized, exquisitely well thought-out building blocks. They make it easier for software to eat the world. They make it so that websites that used to cost 2 million dollars now cost $50,000.

You might want to think about the frameworks you use – or about making your own.

Your framework doesn’t have to as grand and ambitious as Ruby on Rails. It can be tiny, actually, as long as it helps people make or do something of value. Actually, smaller is better – most computing frameworks become so cumbersome they defeat their own purpose.

And your framework doesn’t have to be about building something concrete, either (web apps are physical objects, ultimately – they are built out of microscopic pieces of carbon).

Now, if it is about building something physical – that’s also great! A framework for making fruit juice, perhaps. I hope you decommoditize the world.

But your framework can also be conceptual, which is helpful when you create complex creative and technical solutions.

A shining example is the Storybrand framework.

Like Bootstrap, Storybrand is used in business. It helps you build a business story and extract messages from it that you can use in your marketing.

In the Storybrand framework, there are four essential characters. See if you can spot them.

  1. A Character
  2. Has a Problem/Villain
  3. And Meets a Guide
  4. Who Gives Them a Plan
  5. And Calls Them to Action
  6. That Helps Them Avoid Failure
  7. And Ends in a Success

Sidebar: Storybrand’s creator Donald Miller did something pretty clever here – he made the building blocks of a Storybrand “brandscript” also serve as the chapter structure of the book. Maybe you can write out your framework as a miniature story as well?

Anyway, did you find the four characters?

  • Hero – this is what you call a character who avoids failure, ends in success, and thwarts a villain
  • Guide – this is what you call a character who helps the Hero
  • Villain – you know who this is
  • Customer – this is another word for success*

*In fact, “And ends in success”, could be, “And ends in a customer”.

In the conceptual frameworks we create as consultants, we’re the guide. Our customer is the hero (not us).

If you have those two basic pieces in place, you’re on the right track.

It could be as simple as an intake questionnaire, an interview process, or a document that your customer fills out. Alternatively, it could be a complex, 6-month process that combines your consulting, your training course, your software products, and your services.

Here’s the main thing about frameworks – provide useful building blocks, make it simple to use, tell it as a story, have your customer win in the end.

Very best,