How to frame the problem to achieve the result

March 12th, 2015 by Douglas McEncroe · No Comments · Leadership

The fedshutterstock_92710537eral government in Australia has been unable to get their budget passed. Opposition in the Senate, ridicule from the opposition and general dismay by the Australian people has meant that there has not been the necessary support to execute the changes that the budget tried to achieve.


Carrying out true reform is never easy; people in all countries resist change especially when then change means making sacrifices. In this case the government said there was a problem but never really explained it, then they designed a budget that did seem to hit the less fortunate more than the well off and therefore it was very easy for those who opposed it to see it as unfair.

In Australia, the problem is real enough, the forecast for the next three decades show budget deficits year after year which basically means that we are spending every year more than we are making and the ones who are going to have to pay the bill are our children.


The same thing happens in business


I see similar problems in business. So many organisations that I have worked with require profound change in order to survive. Changing markets, globalisation and more sophisticated clients mean that the old organisational culture, the old management style, the old way of doing things just won’t work any more. Things have to change, but, change means sacrifice and the first thing people think about is what they are going to lose.

Change comes from framing the problem


The organisations that I have seen achieve true change are those that know how to frame the problem. People have to understand that there really is a problem, if they do, then they will be at least open to entering into a dialogue of how that change could begin to happen.



  • Describe the problem in terms that people can understand.
  • Use analogies from everyday life to explain the problem.
  • Gather objective evidence that supports the classification of the present situation as a problem.
  • Lay out in the clearest possible way the cost to all stakeholders of doing nothing.
  • Engage all stakeholders in true dialogue in which you too are open to other interpretations and solutions.
  • Start to put on the table some achievable first steps towards a meaningful change.
  • Keep in mind the eternal need to be fair.


It seems that the Australian government is finally making an effort to go back and frame the problem. Their task won’t be easy because when you start so badly it is hard to go back and start again. It is however not impossible. They would do well to follow the above guidelines in order to get the Australian people on board with regards to the need to change.


How can your frame the problem your organisation faces?


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