This is the second article in a series, focusing on tools and techniques to solve problems in thinking and decision making processes.

Beauty they say “resides in the eye of the beholder”. And so it is with the acquisition of knowledge and with problem solving where different people with different experiences approach problems in different ways. As everyone sees thing differently, this technique uses the strength of ‘different approaches’ to generate a wide cross-section of alternative solutions.

What is the ‘Reframing Matrix’? …..

A Reframing Matrix is a simple technique that helps you to look at organisational problems and decision making from a number of different viewpoints and perspectives; and expands the range of creative solutions that you can generate. The basic approach relies on the fact that different people with different experiences approach problems in different ways. This technique helps groups to put themselves into the mindset of different people and imagine the solutions, or problems, they would come up with regarding a key question or problem.

The Reframing Maxtrix tool was created by Michael Morgan and published in his 1993 book, “Creating Workforce Innovation”.

Detailed description of the process

Firstly, put the question to be asked in the middle of a grid. Use boxes around the grid for the different perspectives. This is simply an easy way of laying out the problem. Two different approaches to the reframing matrix are demonstrated here, but it is important to note that many different techniques can be utilised. In the first approach, which is called the Four Ps, relies on looking at a problem by following the different perspectives that may exist within a development or for example, a humanitarian organisation:

  • Programme perspective: Are there any issues with the programme or service we are delivering?
  • Planning perspective: Are our business or communications plans appropriate?
  • Potential perspective: Is it scalable and replicable?
  • People perspective: What do the different people involved think?

1

A second example relies on looking at a problem from different perspectives within a business. In this example, the 4 Ps approach looks at problems from the following viewpoints:

  • Product perspective: Is there something wrong with the product?
  • Planning perspective: Are our business plans or marketing plans at fault?
  • Potential perspective: If we were to seriously increase our targets, how would we achieve these increases?
  • People perspective: Why do people choose one product over another?

An example of this approach is shown below as Figure 1, to examine a scenario where a new product is not selling well:

2

Key Utilisation Points

The Reframing Matrix is a formal technique used to look at problems from different perspectives. It is a useful tool in a variety of contexts, for teams in particular, that helps expand the number of ways to examine a problem and to solve the problem fully and completely.

By drawing up the reframing matrix and posing a question in the box in the middle of a piece of paper and drawing a grid around it, you are extending the perception range of the problem. Each cell contains different approaches to the problem, seen from one dynamic of the work context. This enables different people from different specialisations to contribute their perspectives and to flesh out the potential problem and therefore to get a 360 degree view of the solutions.

A different set of perspectives is to ask how different professionals would approach the problem. Useful professions to consider would be medical doctors, engineers, systems analysts, sales managers, etc.

 

Compiled by William Wallace

December 2015