Reframing: A key problem-solving tool

Reframing Wedell-Wedellsborg

Make sure you solve the right problem  

Most people are fairly good at solving problems – but they are bad at diagnosing the right problems to solve.

Reframing is a powerful technique that focuses on diagnosing a given problem – such as, ‘what is preventing us from making progress‘ or perhaps a problem faced by your customers – and then, crucially, challenging and reframing your initial perception of that problem.

The importance of reframing becomes clear when you look at how people tend to approach problem-solving. By nature, innovative people are often action-oriented and tend to apply brute force in the shape of trial-and-error. That is often a good approach. But the tendency to ‘jump into action’ also creates a danger that people keep trying new solutions without understanding whether they understand the problem correctly – or if they are even targeting the right problem in the first place.

The trial-and-error approach benefits tremendously from being combined with reframing; a little bit of analysis can save people a great deal of wasted effort. But it is critical to introduce the idea of reframing as early as possible, before people start falling in love with a particular type of solution.

More information:

READ: Wedell-Wedellsborg, T.: “Are you solving the right problems?” in Harvard Business Review, Jan-Feb 2017.

SPEAKING/TRAINING: For conferences or training, consider Wedell-Wedellsborg’s workshop ‘Breaking the frame’.