Boost Your Thinking.
Transform Your Life

Subscribe to Thinking Hacks, our free weekly newsletter now.

Boost Your Thinking.
Transform Your Life

Subscribe to Thinking Hacks, our free weekly newsletter now.

Boost Your Thinking.
Transform Your Life

Subscribe to Thinking Hacks, our free weekly newsletter now.

Mental Models
Featured Models

Framestorming

"There are no right answers to wrong questions." - Ursula K. Le Guin. Le Guin’s quote serves as a fitting introduction to the work of Tina Seelig, Stanford Professor, author and entrepreneur, who has embraced the power of questions to enable innovation. Or, as she puts it: “Framestorm before you Brainstorm.”  Framestorming is an innovation technique that encourages you to actively reframe a question and challenge its assumptions before jumping into ‘solution mode’.  QUESTION THE QUESTION. Seelig explains, “Before you fall in love with the solution, you need to fall in love with the problem.” That’s tough in a world where we are generally rewarded for coming up with answers. As a result, Seelig’s approach requires discipline as you “live in the problem space much longer than you think you should.”   Seelig offers the example of a big urgent question: “How do we cure cancer?”   Rather than jumping straight into solutions, applying Framestorming might lead you to ask: ‘How do we prevent cancer?’ or even ‘How might we support people to live comfortably with cancer?’  Either of these reframes will unlock radically different solutions. As Seelig points out: “The more radically we shift the frame, the more unique the ideas we generate. Reframing is thus a powerful tool for identifying opportunities.” So how do you start boosting innovation with Framestorming? See the Actionable Takeaways below for practical techniques including using empathy-driven innovation, challenging assumptions, and digging beneath your initial question.  QUESTION THE FRAME.  Not content to limit Framestorming to innovation? Then it’s worth introducing the work of Anne Prehn, social psychologist and neuroscientist, who developed another version of Framestorming independently of Seelig’s work. Prehn’s version has a broader application — encouraging you to shift your frame to navigate challenges in life and work. It’s less about identifying new and powerful questions to drive innovation — which is the focus of Seelig’s approach — and instead encourages you to reframe your perspective and the narratives you tell yourself about challenging situations.  For example, if you see a photo of a woman crying in front of a church, you might assume she’s crying in pain at a loss of a loved one. Reframing might let you consider the possibility she’s crying with joy after attending a wedding.  Some of the questions Prehn recommends include: 'How would a person who finds this easy see this?’; ‘What are the benefits of this situation?’; or ‘What would this look like if it was funny?’  Prehn's approach involves generating over 15 reframes for any situation, then selecting at least two relevant ones that you can apply for the greatest impact.  WHICH APPROACH?  The two approaches to Framestorming, of Seelig’s versus Prehn’s, obviously have different intentions and applications, but they share the central notion of consciously reframing to gain new understanding and greater impact. Both are useful depending on whether your focus is on driving innovation or reframing more broadly. That said, the rest of this entry focuses on Seelig's version and the use of Framestorming for innovation.  IN YOUR LATTICEWORK.  As can be seen, by the Actionable Takeaways below, Seelig’s approach of Framestorming for innovation can be used in conjunction with many mental models. Combine it with empathy-driven models such as Design Thinking, focusing on reframing and innovation, or Nonviolent Communication to help reframe problems by identifying underlying needs. Combine Framestorming into a powerful and adaptable mental toolkit to challenge assumptions and be a habitual innovative thinker with the addition of Occam’s Razor and/or First Principles.  And finally, use Framestorming to interrupt the Confirmation Heuristic where you jump to solutions that have already formed in your mind before you’ve truly taken the time to understand the problem in front of you. 

Explore Mental Models

What are Mental Models?
Categories:

Subcategories:

No Mental Model Available

Related content