Bentoism And The Power Of Aligning Frames Of Reference

Yancey Strickler (Kickstarter co-founder and former CEO) has a deceptively simple framework we can adapt to any planning process. He calls it “Bentoism.” At its core, it’s a decision-making tool that asks us to consider our choices from 4 distinct frames of reference. In doing so, we can help bring out the essential concerns and objectives, and better describe how and why we seek to address them. 
The 4 frames of reference are:
  1. Now me
  2. Future me
  3. Now us
  4. Future us 
Strickler uses the example of a smoker who is trying to quit. “Now me” knows quitting will suck and be miserable. This is in conflict with “now us” whose family is annoyed he smokes, “future me” who doesn’t want to smoke anymore, and “future us” who pictures a much happier smoke-free life together. Changing the behavior is always going to be hard, but now we have diverse perspectives on the table to discuss how best to help “now me” while having empathy for his conflict. 
As a planning tool, we can use the tool whenever someone is approaching a large decision or is stuck at an impasse. The goal is to help them zoom out and engage in a multi-perspective self-examination. By including not just themselves but also whoever is impacted by the decision, we can bring crisp focus to why and how the decision itself really matters to all involved – now and in the future. Bentoism isn’t just about defining the perspectives, it’s about aligning action behind a unifying purpose. 
When going through this exercise, expect to uncover aspirations, expect to find fears, and expect the unexpected. When done well, we aren’t just helping bring their decisions and desires into focus, we’re creating value by aligning our advice and guidance with whatever they want to achieve. Implementation will feel highly personalized because it will be highly personalized. You can’t mass market that. 
Professionally, Bentoism represents another tool to help us create durable value by taking the time to really listen, discover paths forward, and implement solutions shoulder-to-shoulder with our clients. 
For more, including the brilliant graphical method he uses to map this out, check out,  Stickler’s new book, “This Could Be Our Future: A Manifesto For A More Generous World,” and this Reboot podcast interview

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