Tools for Developing People & Organisations

Tools for Developing People & Organisations

The SPICE Framework emerged from research related to people, organisations and decision-making. A whole ecosystem of tools has developed around the SPICE Framework that can be applied face-to-face or in the digital environment of the ‘metaverse’.

The SPICE Framework, has emerged from Action Research working with many client businesses of all sizes and types and ranging from multinational businesses and major public sector bodies, through to universities, private sector, faith and community sector organisations and a wide range of small businesses.

The SPICE Framework Emerged from Questions

Research began with questions, the first being, ‘How might it be possible to increase and habituate levels of innovation in individuals and organisations?’.  Over time, other questions emerged.

For example, we questioned many methods deployed to supposedly develop businesses.  We questioned the research they were based on and their appropriateness and value of their application in a contemporary setting.

All our research and our questioning focused on working with real people and real businesses facing real challenges and involved reflecting on creating new solutions to support the performance and development now and focused on action, evaluation and the measurement of impact.

Before explaining what we came up with in the SPICE Framework itself, a brief personal comment on the approach we’ve taken.

Recalling Questioning and Reflection from Deep within

Just for a moment, I want to write out of my own passion and experience.  Innovation People’s research has been based on asking practical questions.  We’ve moved from question to question, seeking answers, rather than just accepting received approaches.  We’ve had the freedom and trust to do this for which I am grateful. This approach draws on a proper research heritage but also a personal one.

By way of illustration, back in 1767 an ancestor of mine, Joseph Priestley developed a process for carbonating water (the process by which drinks can be made fizzy!).  Developing this process involved observation, reflection, questioning, testing and drawing conclusions leading to more questioning ………..and so the process goes on.  (If you enjoyed sparkling water, soda water or coca cola, you have to ask where you’d be without my ancestor’s discovery!)

The method adopted in research leading to the development of the SPICE Framework is more or less identical to the approach taken by my ancestor, Joseph Priestley.  It’s been about observation, reflection, and questioning.  At its heart was the desire to test out those methods delivered by endless business schools and expensive business consultants.

Just as the fizz in fizzy drinks owes so much to my ancestor Joseph Priestley’s questions, so I wanted to add something simple to the way people and organisational performance might be understood and developed.

What follows is a summary of what we found.

The Habits and Conventions People Adopt

Maybe we shouldn’t have been, but we were very struck by how uncritically models were taught and then deployed in businesses. This is to caricature but we’d find some academic would publish a model or approach that would find itself into a book on stands in airports and train stations, or, it would find its way onto programmes in universities and business schools.  It would then be taken on by students, consultants, and others, based typically on the book.  These models would then sometimes become conventional approaches that were commonly taken on but often without questioning.  We asked ourselves, ‘Why?  Why would we do this?’.

We wanted to move beyond convention, to develop a fresh approach for our generation; one that would be a genuine resource and toolkit for business leaders appropriate to the challenges they face now that could be generally applied by anyone and would create and reveal impact from people.

The Five Elements at the heart of All Human Systems

We met our aim from our own observation, reflection and questioning through a very simple method for understanding and summarising all human systems – in other words, every grouping of people such as a business or community or whatever – by means of five elements:

  • Strategy – The conscious, rational and planned intentions
  • Patterns – The way the environment is perceived, and decisions are made
  • Individuals – The individual ‘actors’ involved and all they bring
  • Context – The organisation in its operational environment.
  • Emergence – The unconscious, intuited and unplanned outcomes.

We found, these five elements, summarised in the initials, S-P-I-C-E proved a really useful way of describing the way people operate and make decisions in organisations.  We learned this really simple framework could be used to help manage and measure decision-making and therefore the performance and development of people.  In particular, we found it could be taught really easily to managers and leaders in their operational context as a simple and reliable shorthand for understanding performance and development.  Let me briefly explain.

Understanding Decision-Making

We know many people have a commonplace awareness that decision-making is a balance of deliberate, conscious and rational decision-making, balanced alongside unconscious influences on decisions that are made.  We wanted to go beyond this awareness, applying the SPICE to help people understand and build effective decisions-making habits that will enable them to develop behaviours that measurably increase their performance whatever their operational context.

Regulating Decision-Making

The SPICE Framework goes beyond just observing decision-making and actions.  It helps understand what regulates or enables decision-making and actions.  It does this by providing insights in understanding the drivers or influences within the Individual and their operational Context.  In the SPICE Framework, we describe the Individual and their Context as regulating decision-making.

Managing, Evaluating, Measuring and Influencing

So, we have these five elements in decision-making, the Strategy and Emergence and the elements regulating decision-making, the Individual and their operational Context along with Patterns or habits people adopt in the way their perceive and respond to the world around them. This extraordinarily simple framework of five elements can be learned by anyone extremely quickly and efficiently and then applied to track and connect performance and development using the five elements.

Applying the SPICE Framework

In applying the SPICE Framework, we are able to connect people to performance and development and to consistently manage and measure what are described as the outcomes of human behaviour and the outputs of performance.  So, the SPICE Framework can be deployed consistently to assess someone, to track their ongoing development and to measure their performance. It can just as easily be used for teams and for whole organisations as for individuals.

The SPICE Framework Ecosystem

The use of the SPICE Framework is not dependent on the application ecosystem we have developed.  However we have gone on to develop a range of integrated applications that allow businesses to connect their people to one another, to their ongoing assessment, to their development and its evaluation and to the measurement of their impact on performance through an all-in-one-place solution that is the SPICE Framework Ecosystem, which any business can access at any time, building value in their business through their people.

Innovation People is able to support businesses developing their talent and delivering their strategies through simple, accessible tools, resources and training.  Get in touch for more information through our strategic development product at [email protected] or visit,

Written by Michael Croft

July 18, 2023