Reframing Matrix In A Nutshell

The reframing matrix was first described by author Michael Morgan in his book Creating Workforce Innovation: Turning Individual Creativity into Organizational Innovation. A reframing matrix allows businesses to creatively assess problems from a variety of perspectives.

Understanding a reframing matrix

Morgan’s approach to problem-solving recognizes that people are likely to approach problem solving based on their unique skills and life experience. As a result, the approach encourages individuals to imagine themselves as other people and consider multiple perspectives or solutions.

Creating a reframing matrix

To help clarify the process of considering alternative perspectives, a matrix with four squares should be created. In the middle of the matrix, place a problem (or question) that needs to be answered or solved.

Then, examine the problem from four key perspectives. Each perspective occupies one of the four boxes.

  1. Product/program perspective. Are there issues with the product or service being delivered? Is the product technically sound? Has it been delivered elsewhere? For example, a new product experiencing poor sales may have issues with price, attractiveness, or utility.
  2. Planning perspective. Are plans relating to business operations or communication satisfactory? Has the correct marketing strategy been chosen? Has the sales strategy been used in the right market? What issues may impede progress or compromise deadlines and sales targets?
  3. Potential perspective. Is the problem or solution scalable or replicable? How could sales be increased to address a problem? Is there a capacity for current production volume to be increased to meet production targets?
  4. People perspective. What do key stakeholders and staff think about the problem? Alternatively, why are customers leaving bad reviews or choosing not to buy a product? What are their perceptions?

Strengths of the reframing matrix

There is inherent strength in considering a range of perspectives – particularly when those perspectives are well-informed. 

For example, a consumer who has had reliability issues with their new car is well-informed from the perspective of people. On the other hand, a lawyer with detailed knowledge of consumer law may see the problem as one relating to warranty disputes and protracted court battles.

In any case, broad consultation is effective in avoiding cognitive biases that restrict creativity and innovation. This biased form of decision making is often based on emotion and has no basis in fact or logic.

The reframing matrix also facilities buy-in from key stakeholders because each feels that their opinions are heard and respected. In the long run, creative and holistic decision making has positive implications for business growth and success.

Key takeaways

  • A reframing matrix helps businesses identify effective solutions by considering a range of perspectives.
  • A reframing matrix places the core problem or question at the center of a matrix consisting of four boxes. Each box represents one of four key perspectives: product, planning, potential, and people.
  • A reframing matrix facilitates collaborative and informed decision making because all relevant, informed stakeholders take part. This helps avoid cognitive biases in decision making that have the potential to negatively impact a business.

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