Frame Shift

If you are using a bad frame for a decision, shift to a better frame. As noted on the frames page, when making a decision, you always start by choosing a frame, built around a framing question. For example, the decision about a vacation might be initiated with the framing question, "Where shall we go on vacation?" This frame leads to considering of choices related to possible destinations.

Assess the quality of the frame you are using at the start of a decision. If the frame is bad, shift to a better one.

To assess how good the frame is, answer the following questions:

If the answers to these questions reveal a bad frame, shift to a better one changing the framing question and/or one or more key assumptions. Pick the frame you think is best and shift to it.

The Frame Shift Challenge

Shifting frames is not easy. The illusion above demonstrates what shifting feels like. Do you see a saxophone player or a lady's face? Whichever you see, try seeing the other. For the saxophone player, concentrate on the black areas. For the lady, concentrate on the white areas. Notice the mental sensation you have when you shift from one view to the other. It is slightly disconcerting and not pleasant. That is the frame shift feeling.

The bigger the decision and/or the more committed you are to a current frame, the stronger that sensation will be, making a shift more difficult because of the mental discomfort. In some cases, the discomfort is so strong that a person cannot or will not make the shift. It is one reason why it can be so hard to change people's minds about something. It is also one aspect of the resistance to change executives must deal with.

Shifting frames is a skill that improves with practice. Take some decision you are currently focused on. Identify the frame you are using for it. Try to identify alternative ways to frame the decision. This is the practice that will help build your skill.

For full guidance on how to shift your frame to make a better decision, check out our book Frame Shift.

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