Believing and Acting Beings

I updated the sketch from last week’s post so that it now looks like the sketch on the right (click on it to make it larger).

Decision Cycle, Rev. 2
Decision Cycle, Rev. 2

Here are the changes…

  • I replaced physics with reality in an attempt to be a little less obtuse.
  • I also added “(Expectations)” to Beliefs. They are essentially the same things. This also gives me a place to hang The Stress Equation when combined with Reality/Physics.
  • I changed the line from Facts to “modify”. Facts modify Reality/Physics. This seemed to be a bit richer way of thinking about how facts relate to reality.
  • I added “(Issues)” to Opportunities in order to cover all the circumstantial reasons for decision. the distinction between the two is worth some deeper exploration at some point. In the meantime, read The Obstacle is the Way, by Ryan Holiday.
  • Finally, I fixed the directions of the feedback loop arrows so they point in the right directions1.

This sketch is only the barest outline of a framework for thinking, but there are some interesting observations that can be made. For example, the Natural Systems Loop is the universe without Thinking and Acting Beings. Note that I changed the title of this post to “Believing and Acting Beings”. Thinking is the process of forming beliefs. Beliefs are exposed by adaptive reactions to facts. All higher animals at least exhibit learning. Learning is an adaptive reaction to facts. This leads to the conclusion that all higher animals have beliefs. From this, I’ve formed the belief that while human belief systems are certainly extremely complex, at our core we’re no different than any other animal that learns.

Your milage may vary. If so, I’d love to hear about it.



The human body is a great source of metaphors. One of my favorites is how the framework of our skeletons is “fleshed out” with the necessary tissues to create a human that might be just like you. The framework/”tissue” pattern is likely repeated in more places than we realize, but a common example is construction. A building, be it a single family home or a skyscraper, usually begins with a frame 1 on which various “organs” are hung; the siding on the outside of the house, the roof, the plumbing, electrical, and heating systems, the internal finishing and furnishing.

Frameworks are selected and tweaked based on the particular outcome we’re hoping to achieve. Your skeleton is different than my skeleton because you’re different than me, but if we were the strip away the flesh from our bones what would be left would be recognizable as a human skeleton. The same is true for a building. We would recognized a building framework because it has a top, bottom, and sides, floors, ceilings, windows and doors in an arrangement that’s likely to provide shelter and utility to humans.

Concepts can be constructed on frameworks, too, and I’m a collector of these conceptual frameworks. They tend to be lists where each item in the list is designed to highlight particular aspects of a concept. The full list provides some degree of completeness when describing the concept. As with other frameworks they are often tweaked to support the needs of whatever the concept under consideration happens to be, but when the details are stripped away are still recognizable as a particular category of framework.

Here is a list of a few frameworks, in alphabetical order, that I’m currently finding to be useful…

  • ACOILUSD – This is one form of what designers call the “customer journey”. It expands to; Aware, Choose, Order, Install, Learn, Use, Support, Dispose. All of these elements are addressed by a complete product (a good or a service and its delivery system) either explicitly or implicitly. It’s better if it’s explicit.
  • Aesthetic Mechanical Pragmatism – My framework for my belief system.
  • Business Model Canvas – Created by Alexander Osterwalder and to some degree popularized and reinforced by Steve Blank and Bob Dorf.
  • Purpose/Mastery/Autonomy – A framework for what really motivates us once you get above the basics of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. I think this originally came from Daniel Pink’s book “Drive”, but I first learned about it in this RSA YouTube video.
  • SCIPAB – From Mandel Communications, it provides a framework for fleshing out a request to anyone. This is key if you’re trying to create any kind of change that requires the cooperation and collaboration of other people.
  • System One/System Two – Most of our behavior is automatic and reflexive (System One) rather than deliberate (System Two). This framework was first introduced to me by Daniel Kahneman in his book Thinking Fast and Slow. It changed what I believe about how people make decisions and to some degree helped me to give them a lot more slack.
  • Value Proposition – The version I find most useful is derived from Geoffrey Moore’s Crossing the Chasm though it may be expanded a bit. Mine includes: For [Customer] Who [Needs] The [Product] That [Provides these benefits] Unlike [Alternative Solutions] From [Other Sources].
  • Wardley Technology Evolution – An element of Wardley mapping that provides me with a quick appreciation for the maturity of a particular way of achieving an outcome and the opportunity for moving it to the next level. First introduced to me by Simon Wardley’s hilarious 2014 OSCON keynote and further elaborated on in his blog Bits or Pieces.

Engineering 101

All technologies are nothing more than applying energy to rearrange atoms and/or bits1 within a system of constraints.

Engineering is the discipline of understanding and applying those constraints in order to create systems that solve problems.

Beyond this you’re specializing.