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31 Examples of Problem Framing

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Problem framing is the process of describing and interpreting a problem to arrive at a problem statement. This is considered an important step in problem solving as slight changes in framing may lead to a vastly different problem solving process and resulting solutions.


Frame the problem as having an open-ended solution to allow for creativity.


Assume the problem has a limited set of solutions.


Frame the problem as a open-ended or closed-ended question.

Choice Architecture

Frame the problem as a specific set of choices.


Assume the problem is a positive opportunity for growth, improvement and change.


Frame the problem as a risk.


State the problem from the perspectives of different stakeholders.


State the problem in terms of desired outcomes.

Future State

Paint a picture of some future state you need to achieve.

Current State

Detail the current situation as a problem.

Technical View

State the problem as a technical issue.

Business View

State the problem as a business issue.

Customer View

State the problem from the perspective of the customer.

Global Perspective

State the global impact and issues related to the problem.

Local Perspective

Focus on the local or team impacts of the problem.

Cynical View

Frame the problem as dire and insurmountable

Slippery Slope

Present the problem as the start of something that is about to get much worse.

Optimistic View

Frame the problem as completely solvable or as a positive challenge.

Pragmatic View

Frame the problem as having a likely partial solution that may be good enough.

Self-Correcting View

Suggest that the problem may simply work itself out.

Logical View

Present data and facts as a problem.

Emotional View

Present the emotion impact and issues surrounding a problem.

Social View

Frame the problem in terms of its human impact.

Capitalist View

Frame the problem in terms of money.

Historical View

Detail the long history and roots of the problem.

Future View

Present future challenges around the problem.

Structural Problems

Suggest that the problem requires dramatic structural change.

Optimization Problems

Suggest that the problem can be solved with continuous improvement and gradual change.

Story Framing

Frame the problem as a story in order to make it compelling and memorable.

Urgent View

Frame the problem as urgent with little time for a solution.

Cautious View

Suggest that a solution shouldn’t be rushed and that the problem requires much deliberation to solve.
Overview: Problem Framing
The process of developing a problem statement.
A well framed problem may be easier to solve.
Framing is often motivated by political viewpoints or agendas.
Related Concepts
Next: Problem Statements
More about problem solving:
Five Whys
Human Error
Problem Analysis
Root Cause
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