E2A 064: Why Developing Frameworks Can Be a Secret Weapon for Nonfiction Authors 

 October 31, 2023

By  Scott A. MacMillan

In this episode of The Entrepreneur to Author Podcast, your host Scott MacMillan discusses an important sub-set of intellectual property and thought leadership: Frameworks. The best and most successful thought leaders wield frameworks deftly to simplify complex ideas or processes, and…importantly…to put their stamp on their ideas to make them ownable, attributable, memorable IP that readers associate with them and them alone.







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Episode Transcript

Please note: The transcript is produced by a third-party company from an audio recording and may include transcription errors.

Scott MacMillan

You're listening to the Entrepreneur to Author podcast.


Welcome to the Entrepreneur to Author podcast, the podcast that brings you practical strategies for building authority and growing your business. And now, here's your host, Scott MacMillan.


Intellectual property is at the heart of though leadership and knowledge-based businesses. It’s no surprise then that books, too, are central to both of these as well. So then it follows that there should be a tight connection between intellectual property and books. Of course there is – after all…books are, at their core, a physical, structured manifestation of the author’s thinking…and their book then becomes a fundamental intellectual property asset that underpins their business.

In this episode, we’re discussing an important sub-set of intellectual property and thought leadership: Frameworks. The best and most successful thought leaders wield frameworks deftly to simplify complex ideas or processes, and…importantly…to put their stamp on their ideas to make them ownable, attributable, memorable IP that readers associate with them and them alone.


  • Porter’s 5 Forces
  • 7 Habit of Highly Effective People
  • Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Each of these act as effective and efficient shorthand for complex ideas and all three, while widely referenced and disseminated, are inexorably tied to their respective creators: Prof. Michael Porter, Stephen Covey, and Abraham Maslow respectively.

But let’s back up…what is a framework? And why are they so important?

Frameworks, often referred to as models or conceptual frameworks, are tools that authors…and thought leaders in general…use to simplify complex ideas or processes. They're incredibly valuable for breaking down and explaining concepts. But that’s not all.

There are many reasons why you should incorporate frameworks into your work:

  • Simplification of Complex Ideas: At their core, frameworks simplify. They take vast, multifaceted ideas and distill them into more digestible parts, making it easier for readers to grasp and remember.
  • Visual Representation: Many frameworks are presented visually, using diagrams, charts, or graphics. Given that many people are visual learners, this approach can significantly aid in understanding. If you ever learned about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, I’ll guarantee you’re picturing it now in your mind’s eye.
  • Step-by-Step Guidance: Frameworks can often serve as a step-by-step guide, especially if the concept being explained is a process. By breaking it down step by step, readers can more easily follow along and apply the concept in real-world scenarios.
  • Frameworks reinforces key points: A well-designed framework reinforces the key points an author wants to make. By presenting these points in a structured manner, it emphasizes their importance and helps them stick in the reader's mind.
  • They enhance credibility: Introducing a unique framework can set an author apart as an expert in their field. It shows they've done the work to distill their knowledge into a teachable model, which can enhance their credibility and authority on the subject.
  • Frameworks facilitate discussion and engagement: They provide a common language or reference point for readers. If readers are discussing the book or its concepts with others, referring to a specific framework can make those discussions clearer and more productive.
  • They facilitate application across different scenarios: Once readers understand a framework, they can often apply it to various situations. For instance, a framework for effective leadership may be used by a reader in their personal life, in community roles, and in their professional life.

Can you see how, as an author, incorporating frameworks into your book can be a game-changer? I hope so! It can make your content more accessible, actionable, and memorable and can serve as invaluable tools for readers looking to implement your advice in their own situation.

So then…what types of frameworks might you create to better communicate your ideas?

There are many different types of frameworks authors can use to present and organize information effectively. Here's a list of some of the more common (as well as a few less common ones):

  • A Maxim: Which is a short, pithy statement expressing a general truth or ‘rule’.
  • A List: That’s right…a simple, ordered enumeration of items, concepts, or steps is a framework.
  • A Checklist: A practical list of items or steps to be checked or completed, often used for ensuring consistency or completeness in a particular task or process.
  • A Matrix (often 2-by-2, but can also be larger and asymmetrical): A visual representation that plots two or more variables against each other, often to evaluate or prioritize items.
  • A Flowchart: A diagram that represents a sequence of actions or steps in a process. It often uses symbols and arrows to indicate flow and decision points.
  • A Cycle Diagram: Illustrates a process that goes in a cyclic manner, where the end point loops back to the starting point.
  • A Hierarchy or Pyramid: Represents elements in order of significance, importance, or levels.
  • A Venn Diagram: Shows all possible logical relations between a finite collection of different sets.
  • A Mind Map: A visual representation of hierarchical information that includes a central idea surrounded by connected branches of related topics.
  • A Tree Diagram: Hierarchical structure showing relationships between different sets or categories.
  • A Timeline: Represents a sequence of events in chronological order.
  • A Spectrum or Continuum: Shows a range of positions or values, often from one extreme to another.
  • A Concept Map: A graphical tool for organizing and representing knowledge, showing relationships between different concepts.
  • A Spider or Radar Chart: Displays multivariate data in the form of a two-dimensional chart, with quantitative variables represented on axes starting from the same point.
  • A Fishbone Diagram (Ishikawa or Cause and Effect Diagram): Identifies many possible causes for an effect or problem and sorts them into categories.
  • A Pie or Donut Chart: Represents proportions or percentages, showing parts of a whole.
  • A Bar or Column Chart: Visualizes data using rectangular bars or columns, representing quantities.
  • A SWOT Matrix: A specific type of 2x2 matrix, breaking down Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
  • A T-Chart: Divides information into two columns, often for comparison or contrast.
  • A Storyboard: Series of illustrations displayed in sequence for pre-visualizing a narrative or process.
  • Pictorial Analogies: Using familiar scenarios or objects to explain unfamiliar or complex ideas.

Each type of framework has its unique advantages and is best suited for particular types of content. Choosing the right one can make all the difference in how effectively information is communicated and understood.

Since many of these framework types are inherently visual, what we’ll do is add a free resource that includes examples of all of these that you can pull from and use, which you can grab over at www.entrepreneurtoauthor.com/resources

But to use these framework types effectively, you need to map your ideas…your knowledge…your expertise onto them.

So next, let’s examine how can you turn your ideas into an impactful framework?

Creating an effective framework requires a blend of insight, simplicity, and clarity. Here are some steps and tips for developing strong frameworks that will work well in your nonfiction book, regardless of your subject matter:

  • Identify the Core Idea: Start by identifying the primary concept or process you want to explain. This will be the foundation of your framework. Think about the main problem you're addressing or the core value you're offering to readers.
  • Break it Down: Deconstruct the core idea into its essential parts. This might mean breaking a process down into steps, categorizing different elements of a concept, or identifying key principles or pillars.
  • Prioritize Simplicity: A good framework is streamlined and avoids unnecessary complexity. It's essential to strike a balance between providing enough detail to be useful and keeping it simple enough to be easily understood.
  • Choose the Right Format: Decide how you want to present your framework. Will it be a flowchart? A cycle diagram? A pyramid? Review the list we covered earlier and consider which one best reflects the nature of the concept and will be most intuitive to your audience.
  • Use Clear and Consistent Terminology: Ensure that the terms and phrases you use within your framework are consistent and easily understood. Avoid jargon unless it's industry-specific and commonly known by your intended audience.
  • Iterate and Refine: Once you have a draft of your framework, review it multiple times. Consider getting feedback from peers, potential readers, or experts in the field. This iterative process can help you identify gaps, redundancies, or areas of confusion.
  • Test It Out: Before finalizing your framework, test it in real-world scenarios or with real audiences. This can help you gauge its effectiveness and make necessary adjustments.
  • Visual Appeal: If your framework includes a visual element, invest in professional design. A well-designed visual can enhance comprehension and make your framework more memorable. I’d also encourage you to have multiple versions created: colour, black and white, versions with more and less detail, and so on.
  • Provide Examples: To help readers grasp your framework's practical applications, develop real-life examples or case studies that demonstrate its use.
  • Finally, Stay Flexible: Remember that a framework is a tool, and tools can evolve. Be open to revising your framework as you receive more feedback, as the industry changes, or as new information becomes available.

Frameworks can set your book apart. I’d encourage you to be on the lookout for the frameworks you come in contact with each and every day. Pay attention to the books you read, the presentations you watch, the experts you hear interviewed on podcasts or on television. They’re everywhere, and being alert to them will help you make better use of them in your life, your business, and your book.

And as you do, remember this…

Now is the time…time to write, time to publish, and time to grow.

I’m Scott MacMillan…until next time.

Scott A. MacMillan

Scott A. MacMillan is a speaker, international best-selling author, entrepreneur, and the President and Executive Publisher at Grammar Factory Publishing. He and his team help expert entrepreneurs write and publish books that build their authority and grow their business.

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