Looking at problems from a different perspective

A Reframing Matrix is a simple technique that helps you to look at business problems from a number of different viewpoints. It expands the range of creative solutions that you can generate.

The approach relies on the fact that different people with different experience approach problems in different ways. What this technique helps you to do is to put yourself into the minds of different people and imagine the solutions they would come up with.

How to Use the Tool:
Put the question to be asked in the middle of a grid. We use boxes around the grid for the different perspectives. This is just an easy way of laying the problem out, so if it does not suit you, change it.

We will look at two different approaches to the reframing matrix - you could, however, use this approach in many different ways.

The 4 Ps Approach
This relies on looking at a problem from different perspectives within a business. 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:

The 'Professions Approach'
Another approach to using a reframing matrix is to look at the problem from the viewpoints of different specialists. The way, for example, that a doctor looks at a problem would be different from the approach a civil engineer would use. This would be different from a sales manager's perspective.

The idea of the Reframing Matrix was devised by Michael Morgan in his book Creating Workforce Innovation.

Key points:
The Reframing Matrix is a formal technique used to look at problems from different perspectives. It helps to expand the number of options open to you for solving a problem.

You draw up a reframing matrix by posing a question in a box in the middle of a piece of paper. You then draw a grid around it. Each cell will contain approaches to the problem, seen from one perspective.

One way of using the technique is the '4 Ps' approach. This looks at the problem from the following viewpoints: Product, Planning, Potential and People. Another set of perspectives is to ask your self how different professionals would approach the problem. Useful professions to consider would be medical doctors, engineers, systems analysts, sales managers, etc.

In the next article we look at the Concept Fan, a useful technique for widening your search for solutions. To read this, click 'Next Article' below. Other relevant destinations are shown in the "Where to go from here" list.