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Management Techniques: Reframing Matrix

Toolkit/guidelines

A Reframing Matrix is a simple technique that helps you to look at organisational problems from a number of different viewpoints, and expands the range of creative solutions that you can generate. The basic approach relies on the fact that different people with different experiences approach problems in different ways. This technique helps groups to put themselves into the mindsets of different people and imagine the solutions, or problems, they would come up with regards to a key question or problem.

Detailed description of the process

First, put the question to be asked in the middle of a grid. Use boxes around the grid for the different perspectives. This is simply an easy way of laying out the problem. Two different approaches to the reframing matrix are demonstrated here, but it is important to note that many different techniques can be utilised. The first approach, which is called the Four Ps, relies on looking at a problem by following the different perspectives that may exist within a development or humanitarian organisation:

  • Programme perspective: Are there any issues with the programme or service we are delivering?
  • Planning perspective: Are our business or communications plans appropriate?
  • Potential perspective: Is it scalable and replicable?
  • People perspective: What do the different people involved think?

An example of this approach is shown in the figure, as applied to the problem of a new programme which has not been fundraising effectively.

The second approach to using a reframing matrix is to look at the problem from the viewpoints of different specialists. The way that a doctor, for example, looks at a problem would be different from the approach a water engineer would use, which would be different from a fundraiser's perspective. In humanitarian and development work, it may be useful think through the potential perspectives of different internal and external stakeholders, for example.

Example: Developing a knowledge and learning strategy
A major NGO is trying to develop a knowledge and learning strategy through systematic application of a number of tools, but there are concerns about the internal environment and how conducive it may be to the recommended changes. By thinking through the situation where the tools see low take-up, and then brainstorming why this might be from the perspective of the Four Ps, the management team is able to pre-empt some of the key obstacles and constraints. They can then work to make sure the implementation plan addresses these issues in a strategic fashion, thereby facilitating buy-in across the organisation and its stakeholders.

This tool first appeared in the ODI Toolkit, Tools for Knowledge and Learning: A Guide for Development and Humanitarian Organisations.