Reframing Problems (Creative Problem Solving)

Last modified: Saturday, Aug 1, 2020

If your solutions aren't good enough, maybe you're just focusing on the wrong problems.

When this happens we have to do what is called Reframing.

Reframing problems is what we do when we figure out that our answers are only as good as our questions.

An unapologetic British example:

Question: How can I get the kettle to boil faster?

Can become instead;

Question: How can I start boiling the kettle sooner?

This isn't the best example, it's a bit of a leap, so let's dig deeper...

We always need to focus on reframing the problems before we can arrive at a new question.

Problem: Boiling the kettle is too slow.

Reframed: The wait is annoying.

Immediately we begin to understand that the kettle being slow isn't necessarily the root cause of our problem.

Instead we can start to think about ways to reduce the time of the wait...

The not so immediately obvious, highly successful solution to this problem was the Smart Kettle.

Queues and Disneyland

This exact same problem happened to exist at Disneyland...

At Disney, like many theme parks, waiting in line is an unfortunate reality. And it's not that they haven't done anything about it.

These days, there's not a lot more they can do about it.

So Disney decided to reframe the problem.

Problem: The line is too slow.

Reframed problem: The wait is annoying.

Reframed question: How can we make waiting in line less boring?

This was the key to success, today far less people mind waiting in line at Disneyland than they do at other theme parks.

Creative Problem Solving

Maybe you have heard the expression that all the answers that are out there already exist and we just need to find them?

Or something to that effect?

If you agree with that, then there is a good chance that you consider creative problem solving to be a huge asset in a person.

For a long time creativity has been disregarded as innate talent rather than skill.

Today the lines look a little more blurry than they used to.

FastCompany recently wrote about how reframing problems unlocks innovation.

In this article, they introduced me to something I hadn't heard of before which is called the Powers of Ten.

It's a 1968 documentary which depicts the Universe in factors of ten.

The idea was that this helps to give us perspective of the many different ways you can look at something. Every new angle becomes another unique way of looking at things.

This is one of the easiest ways to be creative, and unlock innovations in your field.

For years I have been reframing problems in the field of Search Engine Optimization, which has helped me become a 'creative problem solver' in the field.

All around the world there are countries who have taken existing ideas and problems, then reframed them to come up with something better.

Examples of that would be modern Singapore, South Korea and other similar countries who are thriving despite the western ideas that say they shouldn't be.

In all likelihood it is only because we aren't looking at the problems in the same way that it seems wrong.

After all if you had asked me how to speed up a kettle, and I said to start it sooner - you'd probably think I was mad wouldn't you?

Reframe, reframe, reframe.



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