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Problem Framing

When your team can’t agree on a solution, take a step back and align on the problem you are solving for.

Pencil icon
Prep Time
5 mins
Stopwatch icon
Run Time
30 mins
Connected people icon
People
3-10
people floating

Problem Framing

When your team can’t agree on a solution, take a step back and align on the problem you are solving for.

people floating
Pencil
Prep Time
5 mins
Stopwatch icon
Run Time
30 mins
Connected people icon
People
3-10

Problem Framing

When your team can’t agree on a solution, take a step back and align on the problem you are solving for.

Pencil icon
Prep Time
5 mins
Stopwatch icon
Run Time
30 mins
Connected people icon
People
3-10
people floating

Problem Framing in action

These software developers use Confluence to work through the problem statement at the end of the Play.

This in-house legal team uses Problem Framing to understand the issue driving their overdue workload.

A sales team used the Problem Framing Play to clarify their challenge with performance in big box stores.

What you'll need

Remote

Video conferencing with screen sharing

Digital collaboration tool (see templates)

In-Person

Whiteboard

Sticky notes

Markers

Timer

Optional templates

Atlassian Templates

Instructions for running this Play

1. Prep 5 MIN

For remote teams, create a collaboration document using one of the templates above if you’d like. Share the document in advance with your team.

For in-person teams, book a room and prepare sticky notes and markers. Divide the whiteboard into four quadrants: who, what, why, where.

Send any relevant supporting data you have in advance to the team.

Tip: YOUR CUSTOMERS’ SHOES

If the problem is around your customers, prepare the team by gathering and sending them as much relevant customer information as possible.

2. Set the stage 2 MIN

Let your team know that the goal today is to understand and define the problem, not to solve it.

3. Brainstorm 10 MIN

Ask the team to take a step back and think about the problem as a whole from the perspective of the people affected by it.

Set a timer for 10 minutes for the team to add their ideas to the collaboration document or on sticky notes to the whiteboard.

Tip: WHO

Who is experiencing this problem? How do we know that they are experiencing it? What feedback have we received from them on it?

Tip: WHAT

What is the nature of the problem? What signs point to there being a problem?

Tip: WHY

Why is the problem worth solving? What's the impact on the people experiencing the problem? What happens if we don’t solve it?

Tip: WHERE

In what circumstances is this problem occurring? In what circumstances does it not occur?

4. State the problem 10 MIN

Using the ideas generated by the team, craft one concise problem statement that sums up the issue from the customer’s perspective.

The problem statement should include who is affected, what is affecting them, why it needs to be solved, and where the problem is happening.

Confluence template
EXAMPLE: FINAL STATEMENTS

Here are some problem statements that various teams formed at the end of running the Problem Framing play.


Follow-up

Make it visible

Post your problem statement somewhere highly visible to the team - in your online space or in your physical workspace. This will keep the problem at the top of everyone’s mind.

Next steps

Now that you’ve clearly defined the problem, assemble the appropriate team members together to create a plan for solving it. Running a Disruptive Brainstorming Play to generate ideas is a good place to start.

Variations

Craft a customer

If the people affected by your problem are your customers, have each team member build a persona for a customer prior to the session. During the session, have them embody that persona and explain the problem as that customer.


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Still have questions?

Start a conversation with other Atlassian Team Playbook users, get support, or provide feedback.

Still have questions?

Start a conversation with other Atlassian Team Playbook users, get support, or provide feedback.

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