Early 2018 I started to learn in a more structured way about coaching. During the first hour of an almost one month long training engagement the trainer mentioned framing, the coaching frame of reference, introduced as the context where coaching can exist and makes sense.
Later on, I read Daniel Khaneman’s “Thinking Fast and Slow” and was again put face to face with the topic of framing, with the author highlighting how framing can affect decision making when presenting a problem.
Today, I started fresh on testing a new application targeted towards a quite narrow audience, with high demand levels, expecting nothing less than the best (based on how much money they pay for this service). As I identified the first inconsistencies (this is how I like to call defects or bugs, but more on that in a future post) I realized that unless I present it well, people will not understand its impact and might decide to not fix it.
So I started to build a frame, a frame of reference for the identified inconsistency and these are the questions I considered:
What are the working assumptions?
What is the context inside those assumptions?
What is the impact? (for the user)
This is vital to be formulated from the point of view of the persona for whom the deliverable is intended, with a clear understanding on what need the product fails to satisfy. The impact can then be translated on the company side, in terms of lost opportunities or lost revenue.
A thing to consider is also avoiding to phrase the impact always as a negative thing. Ask yourself, what is a possible positive impact of this? Is there a context where this is an opportunity, a blessing? This is important, as it moves your mind to a different perspective point, allowing not to be a prisoner of just one option, point of view or context.
Are there workarounds?
Nobody wants to be with the back to the wall, and if the problem is really well understood and not one of the few life & death ones, there almost for sure are one or more workarounds. People need to know that the context has been explored and a solution was looked for, preparing for the next question. At this point leaders can gather confidence that team members are willing to take the steps towards finding the way to fix the inconsistency.
Is there one or more recommendations and what are some of the foreseen consequences for each?
Quite likely the most important aspect! Decision makers sometimes need a leading line, but there is also the trap of having just one option. Here, the rule of three, as stated by Jerry Weinberg comes to mind. As one option is a trap, two options are a dilemma, three are the starting point towards really understanding the context. So try to find at least three recommendations, and you will find that from this point forward even more are visible. From this point on, leaders can really empower the team by saying “Yes, go do that” or, “you have my permission,”, and they will learn that the team is capable of building decisions that don’t need constant approval.