Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Generate Multiple Frames to Make Better Decisions

How you frame a situation helps to determine the types of options you consider and the ultimate decision that you make.   By frame, I mean the way that you characterize a situation.  We face a complex and messy reality.  We simplify those situations by adopting mental models and frameworks.  Those frames can be powerful in helping us make sense of that messy reality.  However, how you frame a situation can constrict the range of alternative solutions that you generate and analyze.  To broaden the range of alternatives generated, managers should seek to frame situations in multiple ways.  For example, suppose that a firm has experienced high employee turnover.   A leader may frame the situation as an incentive problem.  However, that framing would focus his or her team on potential solutions such as changes in compensation.   A better approach would be for the leader to offer multiple frames of the situation.  He or she might ask: We might say that we have a turnover problem, or perhaps we might cast the issue as a talent management problem.  In other words, we don't simply have a talent retention issue... perhaps we have a recruitment challenge, a development problem, etc.   Framing the problem in a broader way might lead to a very different type of discussion.  If you are in a situation where you feel that the range of options being considered is particularly narrow, consider reframing the problem. 

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