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Fropping Rules

Framing Rules + Stopping Rules = Fropping Rules; parallel mental models that govern how your analysis proceeds and when to stop.


One of the things people find with DSRP is that it is hard to know when to stop. This is because DSRP is an n-dimensional structural fractal. This is why we introduced the concept of "Fropping Rules"—a portmonteau of Framing and Stopping. Framing frames the Why? For Who? By When types things. Stopping gives indications on when to stop. Thus, Fropping provides a perspective on the goal of analysis that answers questions of what is relevant, when to stop, what/where to explore.


Fropping is something that you should do prior to your analysis of a system (and continue to update it as you go). We are reminded of Aristotle's idea that, “Well begun is half done.” Let's explore what Fropping Rules do.

What do Fropping Rules DO?

First and foremost Fropping rules remedy the feeling folks can sometimes get when using DSRP. What we call "DSRP Dysphoria" a.k.a., "My head hurts…" Specifically Fropping Rules help you to easily answer questions like:

  • How do I know where to begin?
  • Why am I doing this? 
  • What am I doing?
  • How do I know what to include?
  • How do I know what is relevant?
  • How do I know when to STOP?

Summary List of Types of Fropping Rules 

There are several types of Fropping Rules. We've listed some of the main ones below:

  1. Scope (limited by scope)
    1. Time
    2. Resources
  2. Feasibility (limited by what is possible)
  3. Influence/Concern (limited by what you can/can’t effect)
  4. Credibility (limited to certain sources (e.g., only peer-reviewed sources)
  5. Demographics (limited to certain groups)
  6. Goal/Purpose orientation (limited to a certain goal established by you, funder, climate, etc.)
  7. Results (limited by type of results desired)
  8. Outputs (limited by type of desired outputs (e.g., 3 recommendations, 5 new ideas, 1 optimized solution, etc.)
  9. Solution type (limited by solution type (e.g., optimization, satisficing, solve, reduced condition, etc.)
  10. Qualities (e.g., glitzy, buy in, no unintended consequences, no toxic chemical, etc) [<< effectively infinite]
  11. Any S→P Jig (refugee example) [<< effectively infinite]

Note that 1-9 are for all intents and purposes, finite in their variable nature. Whereas 10-11 are effectively infinite (i.e., the actual fropping rules could be nearly any idea)

Examples of Fropping Rules

Let's look at a few examples. Fropping Rules are almost always parallel systems (part-whole collections) that have been converted into a Perspective-System and used to look at some new system (usually the thing being analyzed.

In this first example, we see the systems being analyzed on the right in its initial, basic state. In this case a 20 or 30-something aged individual is analyzing their relationship with their parents (which is also a relationship between Mom and Dad). The question is, where to begin? What to include? When to stop? Those questions are answered by deciding the Frops to include as perspectives in the parallel mental model to the left. Namely:

  • I just want to understand for understanding's sake
  • I want to reflect so that I can use insights to be a better parent (dad/mom or couple)
  • I want to use an increased understanding to negotiate a position
  • I want to reflect on their relationship so that I can understand my relationships
  • I want to appreciate/empathize
  • I want to fix something that is broken between us
  • I want to fix something that is broken in me

These various Frops on the left can be used alone or as a system to govern how the analysis proceeds on the right. You can think of this as turning the perspective for the Frop ON or OFF.

Flipped PADM 5449 FA20 Class 7 & 8 Slides (DSRP Rapid Labs)

In our next example we are analyzing System X so that we can make some policy recommendations. What might be our Frops?

  • Only for women
  • Only in Montana
  • Only POC
  • Only socio-economic

Notice how these Frops as Perspective LIMIT our analysis, rather than expanding it indefinitely. This is often a point of confusion and surprise for newcomers to DSRP. Because they assume that Perspective taking is always an expanding activity (i.e., it always causes more to be considered never less). But this is not the case. Perspective taking can expand or contract your analysis. It can cause you to purposefully consider more or purposefully consider less.

Flipped PADM 5449 FA20 Class 7 & 8 Slides (DSRP Rapid Labs) (1)

Our next example utilizes the same right side system of analysis: we are analyzing System X so that we can make some policy recommendations. But this time we will look at an entirely different set of potential Frops to choose from outlined below and in the image:

  • Scope
    • Time 
      • By tomorrow
      • By next week
      • By January
      • You have 2 years
    • Resources
      • With $100
      • With $100k
      • With $1M
  • Must be something Republican Senators and majority  will vote for
  • Must be innovative and new
  • Must be sticky, glitzy, or newsworthy

You can see that depending on which Frops you chose as important in the Scope, your analysis would be quite different. Combined with the 3 items at the bottom, your analysis is ready to proceed.

Flipped PADM 5449 FA20 Class 7 & 8 Slides (DSRP Rapid Labs) (2)

The next example is similar to the above but the system on the right is different. this time we are interested in understanding how the customer is using our product. The scope of the project has all the same possibilities as the example above. But the main Frop for the project is:

  • Top 3 Things we can do to make the product better

This Frop plus your scoping frops will help to govern how you go about your analysis, what to include, what's relevant, and when to stop.

Flipped PADM 5449 FA20 Class 7 & 8 Slides (DSRP Rapid Labs) (3)

Finally, I want to hit on a type of Frop that can be very sophisticated and is used a lot but transcends the examples and normative "types" of Frops that are most often used (like the ones mentioned in the above examples). This example is based on the #11 type which we call S→P Jig.

Our example uses a case of Refugee De-radicalization. Let's say we do a bunch of research and analysis to figure out what actions can be taken to decrease refugee camp radicalization. In doing this research we arrive at a mental model which we can call the, "What works for Refugee De-radicalization Model.

Because this model is actually a System of interrelated parts, we can call this model "S" for short. We are going to use S by using it as a Perspective (P). Thus we are going to transform the S that we created into a P, or S→P.  The reason we are going to do this is to use the S→P as a Froppping Rule for a new analysis!

So, Let's say that your boss asks you to come up with as many creative ideas for Refugee Camp Initiatives that can decrease refugee radicalization (e.g., education, soccer programs, etc.). This is a BIG job and a little overwhelming. How will you know what is a good idea? How will you know what to do? What to include? What is relevant? Or when to stop? Well, we use our expert "What works for Refugee De-radicalization Model"  as a perspective on our new task. Thus, we create a kind of rubric or litmus test for what success looks like. 

Flipped PADM 5449 FA20 Class 7 & 8 Slides (DSRP Rapid Labs) (4)