Reframing is a Strategic Skill and a Design Thinking Skill

by Idris Mootee

It Is What Many Of Us Do On A Daily Basis.

by Idris Mootee

Reframing is a Strategic Skill and a Design Thinking SkillIt is a beautiful day in NYC. Just finished a full day or workshop and I am back to my day job. If people ask what I do for a living, I might say reframing issues and coming up with creative solutions. Reframing is a strategic thinking skill, a design thinking skill, and system thinking skills and a design skill. It is a key element in the front end of any innovation process, to look at a problem and to position the problem, situation, or opportunity in a way that the result is actionable. Reframing is a multi-part process for exploring data that are often contradictory and ambiguous and making sense of them.

Companies have overly invested in their last hypothesis and operating on out dated business models, often unwilling or unable to get away from their orthodoxies. In another word, they are stuck in old beliefs. The fast changing consumer behavior and intense global competition present companies with a paradigm-shift challenge — needing to rethink about product and service design and delivery, supply and demand, talent and resources.

Many executives are challenged to reach beyond their usual bags of tricks for solutions, and some continence think this is an advertising agency job to come up with a new campaign. There is not better time for a complete reframing of organization’s problems. Here is how it works:

How do we understand the problem, causes and implications for non-action? How much do we know about the drivers of change causing the problem? Or the problem has always exist but was ignored?

Are there other ways to reframe the problem? What lenses can we use? What insights can support our lenses?

What are the core assumptions that lead us to see the problem the old way? Is this problem solvable? Is it worth solving?

What are the conditions needed for successfully solving this problem? In order for this problem to be solved, how do we go from existing conditions to desired conditions? And has this changed?

What else can happen along the way? Has this changed? What are the commitment, resources, capability and risks involved?

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Idris MooteeIdris Mootee is the CEO of idea couture, a strategic innovation and experience design firm. He is the author of four books, tens of published articles, and a frequent speaker at business conferences and executive retreats.

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  1. Very well written article, and I particularly like the questions posed. These are precisely the questions that an organisations needs to ask when it is attempting to re-frame, re-design, re-think, re-articulate, and re-position itself in the market place. The quandary has always been – is this the right time? Am I not doing okay for the moment? Do I need to disrupt my daily operations for something that just “might” bring me some benefit into the future? Such questions lead to fatalities. If an organisation must indeed thrive, and thrive to excel and grow, then it must and should always challenge its present. And it must have within it’s fabric, knitted into its weft and weave, the ability and the wisdom to continuously question its future.

    Unless an organisation steps away from where it stands, and takes a look at itself from the outside-in, in an attempt to visibly see the white spaces, in comparison to its competition, to its industry, and to the business ecosystem it belongs to, it will not be able to reinvent itself, to recapitalise its resources into something more meaningful, something more sustaining, and most importantly something more innovative.

    I completely agree with the author that reframing is only one part of the equation. You can take a picture out of its frame and put in a new one. But, the question is – can you do something to the picture itself? Do you think you can re-design it? Take it to a studio and maybe splash some extra colours on it? Essentially, the question that is looming large is – don’t simply put old wine in new bottle (aka re-frame) – rather, decanter old wine, and look for new wine to put into new bottle (design thinking).

    And when you are in the process of design thinking, think external, think internal, think industry, think competition, think ecosystem. Think how you are competitively or uniquely positioned in all those spaces. Think what you need to do, what you need to invest, what skills and capabilities you need to instill in your organisation to remain ahead of the race – to remain innovative. To be innovative does not always mean to be untouchable. It just means that you need to do something different from what you have been doing all along to go that next mile. And it is for this reason why innovation never stands still – it is a moving target – moving in tandem with the dynamics of the market place, economy, trade, and commerce.

    These are just some of my views corroborating the author’s point as well.

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