Unlocking Innovation: The Problem Reframing Canvas

By Marianna Canino

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A vital component of any organization’s innovation program is the need to identify problems to solve and opportunities to explore. But how do you know that you’ve got the right problem? Across more than 20 years’ experience at the forefront of innovation, we’ve found that problem identification is where a lot of innovation comes unstuck, with people either identifying the wrong issue and trying to resolve that or framing the correct problem in a closed-off manner.

In this blog, we delve into the Reframing Canvas. This is a framework for success that we’ve developed, bringing our experience and leading academic thinking together to better equip our customers to start solving the right problems.

The canvas is a strategic tool within the Challenge Driven Innovation® methodology employed by Wazoku, and it serves as a critical intermediary between the problem identification and solution implementation phases, specifically positioned between the ‘Discover’ and ‘Define’, ‘Develop’ and ‘Deliver’ stages.

Significance of Problem Reframing

Effective problem framing is pivotal, influencing the quality and type of solutions generated from your innovation efforts. The Reframing Canvas provides a structured means to validate problems before seeking solutions, encouraging a comprehensive examination of problem statements from various perspectives.

Decoding Problem Framing

Problem framing involves a series of steps aimed at defining a problem clearly, understanding the goal, questioning its validity, exploring alternative perspectives, and, if necessary, identifying a more pertinent problem to solve.

Framework Genesis

The Reframing Canvas draws inspiration from ‘What’s Your Problem?’ by Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg, supplemented by insights from ‘Invisible Solutions’ by Stephen Shapiro. Additionally, direct experience with clients contributed to the development of this framework.

Three Components of the Reframing Canvas

There are three components of the Reframing Canvas: Frame the Problem, Reframing the Problem, and Rewriting the Problem. Below is a brief overview of what happens at each stage of the reframing process.

Frame the Problem:

  • Articulate the problem, define the goal, and outline the desired outcome.
  • Identify key stakeholders and ensure clarity in problem statements for diverse audiences.

Reframing with Four Lenses:

Similarities and Parallel Lens – identify parallels to the problem in other regions, sectors, or industries.

Limitations and Self-Imposed Solutions Lens – question if the statement is true, based on its description, and avoid self-imposed limitations in how the question is positioned.

Internal or External Constraining Factors Lens – consider financial, environmental, social, or technical constraints and clearly state them.

Zooming In and Out Lens – evaluate breaking down the problem or addressing a bigger problem first for optimal results.

Rewrite the Problem:

  • Revisit the original problem statement, considering insights gained from the lenses.
  • Rewrite the problem statement to reflect a comprehensive understanding, avoiding self-imposed solutions and addressing constraints.

In this blog, we’ve looked at the Reframing Canvas as a method for ensuring that your innovation efforts focus on the correct problem or opportunity. We’ve shown other theories that the canvas is built on, and walked through each stage of the canvas, highlighting how you get to a problem statement that allows your chosen crowd to submit better ideas.

Whether you use it to change course towards more effective Challenges or to validate the work that you’re already doing, the Reframing Canvas is a tool that can be used to improve the outcomes of your Innovation Program.

Workshop Opportunities

Wazoku offers workshops on the Reframing Canvas as part of our Innovation Academy. Organizations interested in refining their problem-solving and critical thinking skills can engage with their Innovation Consultants to arrange sessions and explore the potential of the Reframing Canvas.

By Marianna Canino

Marianna is the Director of Customer Success at Wazoku. When she isn't helping our customers make the most of their innovation programs, Marianna loves to go to concerts, travel the world, and is a keen surfer!