How can problem reframing be used in decision-making?

Problem reframing is a method that helps us to understand, define and prioritize complex and ambiguous problems that we face in our work or life. It involves looking at the problem from different perspectives and finding a better problem that is valuable to solve. By reframing the problem, we can generate more innovative and effective solutions.

Problem reframing consists of three steps: frame, reframe and move forward.

In the first step, we define the problem we are trying to solve by using clear and specific language. We also identify the assumptions, constraints and stakeholders involved in the problem.

In the second step, we think about a different perspective of the problem by using various practices, such as:

  • Look outside the frame: explore how other people or organizations have solved similar or related problems.
  • Rethink the goal: question what we are trying to achieve and why
  • Examine bright spots: look for examples of success or positive outcomes within the problem domain.
  • Look in the mirror: reflect on our own biases, emotions and motivations that may influence how we see the problem.
  • Take their perspectives: empathize with the needs, feelings and expectations of the people affected by the problem.

In the third step, we move forward by working on solutions for the reframed problem. We can use brainstorming, prototyping and testing techniques to generate and evaluate ideas. We can also iterate on the reframing process as we learn more about the problem and its context.

Problem reframing is a useful method for decision making because it helps us to:

  • Avoid jumping to conclusions or solutions without fully understanding the problem
  • Challenge our assumptions and expand our thinking
  • Discover new opportunities and insights
  • Align our goals with the needs of our customers or stakeholders
  • Increase our creativity and innovation
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Problem reframing is not about finding the real problem but finding a better problem to solve. It is a skill that can be learned and practised by anyone who wants to improve their problem-solving abilities. Using problem reframing, we can make better decisions leading to better outcomes.

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