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Create Frameworks

A Framework is a visual representation of a system, and a great way to make sense of data. Use them to highlight key relationships and develop your strategy.


Suggested Time

60-90 Minutes

Level of Difficulty


Materials Needed

Pens, Post-its, paper


Design team

Process Phase

At IDEO.org, we create frameworks to help synthesize our learnings from research and find clarity in what is often highly complex. After you’ve Downloaded Your Learnings it can feel like you’ve got tons of information but no way to organize it. Frameworks like 2x2s, ecosystem maps or customer journeys help you start to visualize patterns, understand the perspectives of the people you’re designing for, and help you unpack the context you’re working in.


  1. As you Share Inspiring Stories, listen for moments when the topic seems to fit into a larger system, or feels related to something else you heard or saw.
  2. When patterns start to emerge, draw them. At first they can be simple Frameworks like Venn diagrams or two-by-two matrixes. These simple diagrams can help you map a few forces at work at once.
  3. As the systems you hear about become more complex, and you start to think about what you might design, your Frameworks will too. For example, a Journey Map—which maps out the steps from first hearing of your product to trying it to recommending it to a friend—might become relevant. Later, a Theory of Change will help you use learnings to articulate how certain concepts or solutions might influence a desired change.
  4. Keep refining your frameworks as you move through the Ideation Phase. They’re bound to change, and that’s ok. Frameworks are only meant to help you visualize your system, not to capture it perfectly the first time out.