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Decision Quality by Jennifer Meyer, Hannah Winter, Carl Spetzler

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4The Appropriate Frame

A problem well stated is a problem half solved.

—Charles F. Kettering

An appropriate frame answers the question: “What problem or opportunity are we addressing?” Too often, decisions are approached without a clear answer to that essential question. We fail to nail down a clear purpose for our decision, or we fail to consciously recognize our assumptions, or we don't consider the boundaries of the problem we aim to solve. And if the decision involves others, we don't share our perspective with important stakeholders—especially with opponents. Instead, we unconsciously assume a frame without considering it, and plunge in to solve the problem we think we know.

Albert Einstein declared the importance of framing when he said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem I'd spend fifty-five minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.” Einstein's statement should remind us that time spent in proper framing is time well spent; it's our best assurance that we will solve the right problem, and that decision-making efforts will be effective and efficient.

A Friday Afternoon Dilemma

It's 4:30 on Friday afternoon. Your boss is standing at your office door, her brow furrowed. This looks like trouble—and it is.

“We have a problem,” she says as she steps in and sinks into the chair across from your desk. “The Western region has just sent me updated sales numbers—and they're 20% lower than what they told us on Monday. That's a big change—big ...

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