Reframing Events

Reframing Events

In a paper exploring how we raise our children at home, discipline their behaviour at school, and manage staff at work, we point out that they all bear an uncanny likeness to how we process people who enter the criminal justice system. The criminal justice system is hugely influential in all our systems of governance and as such is long overdue for a radical overhaul.  The approach to crime is to frame every behaviour as an offence against the State. And in so doing, this framing has responded by structuring all its processes to answer two questions: Who did it?, and What do we have to do to them?  It’s a restrictive way to approach unhelpful behaviour and dramatically limits our capacity to respond appropriately.

At ProActive we recognised those limitations and have long advocated for different approaches to prevent and respond to unhelpful behaviour, not only in criminal justice systems, but also in the way we parent, the way we lead and manage in the workplace, and the way we govern in the community.

Looking for the conditions that make for healthy families, psychologically safe workplaces and species friendly environments, requires different sets of questions that often don’t seem obvious. At ProActive we’re continually looking for opportunities to see things differently in the hope that this will lead to a more informed understanding and a willingness to experiment.


An example is how we frame conflict. Unlike most systems of governance, we frame conflict as being primarily about systems of relationships and understand conflict in organisations as an internally generated threat to organisational resilience.

Resilience is another example. It is generally understood as being able to bounce back intact from a threat or harm. We prefer to frame it as a way of bouncing forward. If we frame it as bouncing back, it only describes resilience in an unchanging world, an unchanging environment. Surviving and thriving in the Anthropocene, is a shining example that requires a bounce-forward resilience. The digital world similarly requires a bounce-forward resilience.

Resilience framed as a bounce-back intact phenomenon, is also a double-edged sword. Systems of governance and administration are often resistant to change, which is a feature of being a bounce-back resilience. This also becomes important when thinking strategically about surviving in the two new worlds with their new and currently ungovernable harmscapes of climate change and cyber crime

Bouncing forward is not only about adaptation. It’s also about mitigation.

At ProActive, we specialise in helping organisations reframe how they understand and approach these new and emerging harms.