Solve Your Problem By Changing It

How ‘Reframing’ Can Lead to Better Dinner Plans

You have a problem.

You can’t seem to solve it.

You are stuck, confused, and frustrated.

The answer should be simple, but the problem won’t budge.

This problem could be anything from how to get out of debt, to how to end homelessness, to what to make for dinner with friends tonight.

What can you do when the solution won’t come into view?

Enter the reframe

Reframing is a technique often used in Design Thinking, a process for creative problem solving [1].

You might not be able to solve the problem that is frustrating you, but what you can do is change the problem.

You asked, ‘What should I make for dinner with my friends tonight?’ If you can’t solve it, a reframe might be: ‘What could I do for my friends tonight that would feed them and surprise them.’

Maybe this reframe opens your mind up to possible solutions, including this one:

“I could take my friends out and treat them to hot dogs at the new, creative hot dog cart in town.”

A new solution came when you opened up and reframed your question — a solution that was difficult to come to when you were focusing on what to make.

Many of us give up when the problem seems unmovable. Unfortunately, this often manifests itself as living with the problem and letting it melt into disappointment.

Let’s quickly note that some things in life are not problems to be solved. Sometimes what you experience as a problem is really a circumstance to be taken into account. Some design thinkers have referred to these as gravity problems [2]. Gravity can’t be solved. Trying to solve gravity will just frustrate you, but you could solve other problems and in so doing change the way that gravity impacts you.

“If you’re working on the wrong problem, you’ll get the wrong answer every time.”
Dave Evans [3]

Back to those problems that can be solved…

If you’re going to reframe your problems to solve them, you’re going to have to ask better questions.

For questions to be better than the ones we normally ask means that they’re going to have to be different, sometimes very different.

There’s a quintessential example of this kind of different, better question.

Here it is:

Why can’t you complete your five year goals in the next six months?

It’s a good questions because it reframes the normal, stale assumption that your 5 year goals must take 5 years to complete.

It’s a good question because it’s going to stretch your brain in ways that will produce creative thinking that could lead to important changes in the way you do things.

Are you stuck on a problem?

Reframe it.



I quit coffee. Buy me a tea?

This is my daily project where I write about diverse ideas.

This is ‘Dose’ #26. You can see previous ‘Doses’ here.

Like this project or want to support my work in Montreal with Jubilé • Jubilee Montréal? Donate securely online with a special or monthly gift and receive a tax receipt.

A donation could be the price of a coffee per month or per week… And it’s even more helpful than a caffeine fix.

Donate from the United States | Donate from Canada