Problem reframing is a technique used in innovation to approach challenges from different angles or perspectives, which can help identify novel solutions that were not previously considered. Here are some common examples of problem reframing:
- “Out of the box” thinking: This involves thinking creatively and outside conventional approaches to a problem. It may involve brainstorming new ideas and generating unconventional solutions. An example of this could be Airbnb, which reframed the problem of finding affordable and comfortable accommodation by enabling people to rent out their spare rooms or apartments to travellers.
- Changing the problem’s scope: Sometimes, reframing a problem can involve changing its scope. For example, instead of trying to solve a specific issue within a company, you might consider reframing the problem as part of a broader challenge faced by the industry as a whole. This broadening of the problem scope may help in identifying more comprehensive solutions.
- Looking at the problem from a different perspective: Reframing can involve looking at a problem from a different perspective, such as from the viewpoint of a different stakeholder or customer. For example, in the healthcare sector, pharmaceutical companies may reframe their research by considering the patient’s experience and quality of life beyond just finding a cure for a particular disease.
- Challenge assumptions: Sometimes, our assumptions about a problem can prevent us from seeing alternative solutions. We can reframe the problem in a new light by challenging these assumptions. For example, in the food industry, many consumers want healthy, nutritious food but may not have the time or expertise to prepare it. Companies like Blue Apron and HelloFresh reframe this problem by providing meal-kit delivery services that allow consumers to cook healthy meals at home with minimal effort.
- Taking a systemic approach: Instead of viewing problems in isolation, reframing can involve taking a systemic approach that considers the broader context in which the problem exists. For instance, organizations might reframe the problem of climate change as part of a broader challenge facing the world’s natural ecosystems, enabling them to take a more comprehensive approach to mitigating their environmental impact.
Problem reframing is a valuable tool in innovation that can help individuals and organizations come up with novel and effective solutions to challenging problems. Changing the perspective, scope, and assumptions made about a problem makes it possible to generate innovative solutions that were not previously considered.