The reframing matrix process is a cognitive process tool. It helps individuals and teams increase their creativity and innovation. It works by getting teams and individuals to brainstorm about a topic from different perspectives. Four different perspectives commonly used in the world of work are: product, planning, potential and people.

Summary by The World of Work Project

The Reframing Matrix Process

The reframing is a simple, useful tool that helps individuals think about existing problems in new ways, often leading to more creative solutions and outcomes. It can also be used as method to improve creativity in general brainstorming.

The model works by getting people to think about the problem from the perspective of other people, thus focusing on the challenges in a different way.  In some instances it is worth combining the reframing matrix approach with other problem solving techniques such as The A3 Problem Solving Process.

Step 1 of the Reframing Matrix Process

The first step of the model is to draw a 2×2 matrix with the problem in the middle. Be clear on your problem definition and provide enough detail to helpful, while being as concise as you can.

The reframing matrix process as a blank four square diagram

Step 2 of the Reframing Matrix Process

The next stage is to determine the viewpoints from which you wish to address the problem. These may be different for the different problems you are looking to explore. For example, if you are considering a sales related problem you might want to consider the problem through sales specific lenses, and so on.

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Step 3 of the Reframing Matrix Process

The third stage of the reframing process is to brainstorm root-causes or solutions for the problem through the different perspectives that you’ve chose. In essence what you’re doing here is simply looking at the problem in a range of different ways to try help you find more causes and solutions.

The reframing matrix process as a four square diagram

In the example above we’ve considered a problem in which a team is failing to complete and submit their monthly reports on time. The four perspectives we’ve chosen are: people, processes, platforms and culture. By looking at the problem through these lenses we’ve come up with a wide range of potential root causes. Having identified these potential root causes we could go on to test them, and fix them if appropriate.

Learning More

Thinking about what we do from different perspectives and with others is very helpful. This is partly because we all have thinking habits and cognitive biases that restrict our creativity. In particular, these decision making biases often lead us towards bad (or irrational) decisions.

Solving problems as a team using things like The A3 Problem Solving Process improves our problem solving. Similarly, drilling into issues with the 5 Whys helps us understand root causes more and creating an ease/benefit matrix helps us decide what to focus on in the first place. When we are actually working on things like this in groups it’s useful to use techniques like silent brainstorming to get the best results.

To learn more about creativity, innovation and problem solving, you might enjoy the first of our three podcasts specifically on these topics:

The World of Work Project View

The reframing matrix process is really just saying you need to look at things in a variety of ways to really understand them. It’s common sense, but still helpful. It’s similar to other approaches out there like de Bono’s thinking hats (about which there is little academic insight).

We don’t really have any more to say about it.

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This post is based on original work by Michael Morgan and published in his book: “Creating Workforce Innovation”.

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