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Have you ever felt completely stuck in some area of your business (or life)?

If you’re like me – probably many, many times!

However I came across a very powerful technique called Reframing that is the best “unstucking” solution I have ever seen.

Simply put, Reframing changes the question, the way you are thinking about, or context of the situation.

Coca Cola used Reframing to completely change their business model.

If you remember back to the 1980’s, Coca Cola and Pepsi were going head to head over market share (remember the Pepsi Challenge?).

But by the early 1990’s, even though they were still spending hundreds of millions of dollars annually their market share was pretty much set. If it moved at all it was a fraction of a percent.

Which meant that hundreds of millions of dollars were being spent, but without significant change – so minimal results and lots of money!

But they were still making money so what’s the big deal?

The real issue is they could not go to their board of directors and their investors and say “Hey, we’re spending all this money but we don’t anticipate any change in results or revenue.”

People invest in companies because they expect them to grow and continue making money. Had Coca Cola (or Pepsi) said anything like that, their stock value (and therefore available money) would have tumbled.

But they had saturated the soft drink market? And what they sold were soft drinks?

Well if you are aware of the number of different brands and types of drinks that Coca Cola and Pepsi now sell you know that they expanded outside of the soft drink business.

But what you may not have known is the HOW. They Reframed the question.

They started out asking how can they expand the soft drink market (and their share) if it hadn’t changed in several years, and thinking of themselves as a soft drink company.

The Reframed Question was “How do we become the dominant player in providing liquid for the human body?”

When they Reframed the situation, what they noticed is that while Coca Cola was the dominant player in the soft drink market, they were less than 1% of the total amount of liquid consumed by people.

So they expanded into water, juice and sports drinks (all of which are now bigger markets than pop!).

Reframing means you change how you look at the situation – things look different when you change perspective.

So how do you apply this to your business?

The easiest way is when you notice you are stuck, identify what questions you are asking, and then Reframe the questions.

Reframing always means looking at the situation from a different context or perspective.

My first place to start is by turning the question around and looking at the situation from a 180 degree view.

Here are some examples:

Initial Question: How can I increase revenues in 2012?

Reframed Question: How can I bring maximum value to my clients in 2012?

Original question: Why is this happening to me?
Reframed question: What can I learn from this?

Original question: Why can’t he/she understand me?
Reframed question: How can I communicate so that he/she can understand me?

Original question: Why should I be proud of working for my company?
Reframed question: Why should my company be proud of me working for them?

Original question: How can I get this task done?
Reframed question: What is the right configuration of resources to get this done in the most optimum fashion?

There are two other tactics for using Reframing in your business.

One is called the 4 Ps Approach. The 4 Ps Approach looks at problems from different viewpoints:

  • Product perspective: Is there something wrong with the product?
  • Planning perspective: Are our business plans or marketing plans at fault?
  • Potential perspective: If we were to seriously increase our targets, how would we achieve these increases?
  • People perspective: Why do people choose one product over another?

For example using the 4 Ps Approach in a Matrix:

And the third approach to use Reframing is to bring in the viewpoints of different people and specialists.

Bring in a cross section of people in your company to work on the issue. A sales manager will have a different view point than a technician or the owner.

You can also bring in outside experts to include their viewpoint.

Often a different viewpoint will change the context and you see the Reframed options.

The bottom line is, when you are stuck, part of the issue is that how you are looking at the situation is keeping you stuck. To get unstuck you have to change what you are looking at.

Change your questions and your options and outcomes change!

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