Reframing — A Very Powerful Tool for Problem Solving

  • Reframing is not Analysis
    Analysis is when you ask ‘why is this problem happening’? Analysis is where you dive deeper into the finer details of the problem. Reframing on the other hand is a much higher level activity. It starts (though isn’t restricted to) before Analysis. It is when you ask, What problem are we trying to solve? Is this the right problem to solve? Reframing is about being able to look at the big picture and think of the problem from multiple perspectives
  • Reframing is not about finding the real problem.
    Its about finding a better problem to solve.
  • It generates more options
  • The way you frame a problem determines which solutions you come up with
  • Problem 1: The Slow Elevator Problem
    Our natural inclination to solve it is this way:
  • Make the Elevator faster
  • Replace the Elevator with a new one
  • Change the Algorithm to make it faster
  • Everyone in the building has the same lunch break time. Can we request the companies to scatter the lunch break?
  • How can we make the wait time more pleasant?
  • How can we keep the users of the elevator engaged while they wait for the elevator to arrive?
  • Buy a new faster conveyor belt that delivers the bags faster
  • Train workers to get more efficient at baggage handling and transfer from the plane onto the conveyor belt
  • Hire more people to speed up the process
  • How can we make the wait time more pleasant?
  • How can we keep the passengers engaged while they wait for their bags to arrive?
  • How can we increase the time it takes between passengers deplaning the aircraft and arriving at the baggage receive section?
  • How can we make the 3 hour train journey faster by 30 minutes?
  • We can build a faster train
  • We need faster tracks
  • How can we make the 3 hour train journey pleasant?
  • Can we include Wifi on the train?
  • Can we provide more meals on the train?
  • How about some newspapers and magazines onboard?
  • Exploring within the Frame: In this approach you look for unexplored avenues within the same problem.
  • Changing the Frame: In this approach, you change the framing of the problem altogether.
  • There are (most often) only 6 types of problems
  • Each problem is composed of only 6 Pieces (6 Slices of Pizza!)
  1. Who/What?
  2. How Much?
  3. Where?
  4. When?
  5. How?
  6. Why?
  1. Who/What Problems
  • Who are all the players in this problem, and what do they do?
  • What makes this thing different from that one? Which do I prefer?
  • Who is in charge and who else is involved? Where does responsibility lie?
  • Do we have enough of X to last as long as we need?
  • How much do we need to keep going? If we increase this can we decrease that?
  • What comes first, and what comes next?
  • What do we need to do, and when to get everything done on time?
  • Where do all these pieces fit? Whats most important and what matters less?
  • Where are we going now? Are we headed in the right direction, or should we be moving elsewhere?
  • What will happen if we do this? What about that?
  • Can we alter the outcomes of a situation by altering our actions?
  • What are we really doing and why? Is this the right thing to do or should we doing something different?
  • If we need to change, what are our options? How can we decide which of these options are best?
  • Who and What
  • How Much
  • Where
  • When
  • How
  • Why

After framing the problem, Reframe! Here are some techniques

  1. Look outside the Frame
  • For example what happened the last time an employee tried to innovate? (This can shed light on why employees resist innovation)



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