Framing & Reframing Problems

Opening Thoughts:

Charles Kettering — a master in automotive innovation
Moneyball — articulating the problem as wins not losing Jason Giambi and Johnny Damon

The Semantics of Framing & Reframing Problems:

Called many thing including Question Forming and Puzzle Finding

Context-Setting: Why Do we UnderInvest in Problems?

The rush and bias to solutions — Einstein would have spent 55 minutes out of every hour articulating the problem
Avoiding the loudest voice in the room issue

The Value in Identifying Smart Problems:

Types of Problems

Karl Popper’s Clocks and Clouds
Wicked Problems — problems with many interdependent factors
Divergent vs. Convergent Problem Solving

Criteria for Great Challenge Statement Articulation

The Goldilocks Effect — meet me in the middle
Example of a Successful Problem Formulated That Strikes The Balance

Exploration Challenge Statement Canvas

Challenge Statements all in one place Via Futureproofing —
The best challenge statements are rooted in Change, Boldness, Impact and/or Vision

Gold Standard — Real Life Winning Challenge Statements

Long Term Problems:
We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.
Sting?! Blackberry vs. Apple mobile challenge statements — questions can elevate or deter.

The 5Ws and 2H Tool Of Challenge Statements

The Sins and Watchouts of Challenge Statements

  • Loudest Voice in the Room Determines The Language
  • You Never Re-examine/Change It When Reality Hits
  • You Change It When Your Solution Doesn’t Fit Your intended Plan
  • You Don’t Modulate It for Intended Audiences
  • You Include Too Much Jargon, Not Understandable to Others
  • You Don’t Phrase it as A Question, Invitation or Provocation for Participation
  • Lacks Actionability — Spurs teams to Required Steps, Without Expressing Means
  • Lacks Specificity — Provides Constraints to Work Against with Enough Room to Explore
  • Jumping to the Solution or Root Cause Prematurely
  • Not Understanding if You Have Answered the Challenge (SMART — specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, time-based)
  • Focusing in on Symptoms to the Real Problem
Our Poil Results — Problem Statements are too Biased


  • How Might We…
  • What Might Happen If…
  • What’s Stopping Us From…
  • if X Change Happened, How might we Y Action?
  • Why Would We Not…
  • What is the best Way…
The Framing and Reframing Canvas

Resources to Explore

“We must realize that when fear hits, we go to overthinking, overanalysis and we can miss out on breakthrough opportunities.”, from “Top Gun: Maverick”:)

What’s next in our Craft-Building Series?

What’s Going On in the Guild:

See What ventures We Are Hatching
Our latest article — a super-CAFFEINATED world



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Grey Swan Guild

Grey Swan Guild

Making Sense of the World’s Biggest Challenges & Next Grey Swans — curating and creating knowledge through observation, informed futurism, and analysis🦢