Eigenquestions: The Art of Framing Problems
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Technique 3: Framing with your Team


You don't have to frame alone

Framing is not meant to be a solitary process. It’s an opportunity to develop a common language between teams and collaborators, and a way to drive commitment to a direction. Specifically:
Great ideas can come from anywhere
: We hire teams and surround ourselves with interesting and diverse colleagues because we value their perspectives. Great framers find ways to bring out and incorporate these perspectives.
It is easier to enroll in a decision when you understand the frame
: It is human nature in tough decisions to ask what the alternatives were. By clearly capturing the right group of choices in a simple frame, it makes it easier for collaborators to buy-in to the choice.

At Coda, we accomplish this with a meeting system one of my previous bosses David Campbell implemented at Microsoft. It is represented by four discrete stages:
Wallow:
Idea and problem statement generation. These are inputs to the frame.
Frame:
Synthesize the questions and options. This is where the frame matures into a diagram.
Propose:
Pick one of the options. This is where the frame is narrowed to its conclusion.
Close:
Commit and execute. Get your team’s buy-in and move forward!

Below you’ll find a few examples of how to implement each stage using Coda’s drag-and-drop templates. Drop them into any doc to get started 🚀.

Wallow:
Collect the list of questions and ideas

Before starting your thinking process, get the relevant group together and get everyone's thoughts on the table. It will likely feel unformed but patterns will emerge.

One tool we'll often use is a drag-and-drop Topic Voting template (try it below, or add one to your doc by typing
/topic
):

Let’s capture our list of ideas:
Add Idea
Idea
Author
Vote
Upvoters
1
Idea 1️⃣
SM
👍
2
ED
JH
2
Idea 2️⃣
JH
👍
1
AS
3
Idea 3️⃣
ED
👍
1
AC
There are no rows in this table
This both allows ideas to flow freely (especially in virtual meeting environments), and gives the group an opportunity to provide their perspective on weighting. It’s also fun to press buttons :).

Frame:
Determine if you have the right questions and options

Now you have a key question and you believe you have it well framed. But before asking people to decide, this is a good time to enroll your team in helping you come up with the right set of options (
/option
).

Options for
@Idea 1️⃣
:
Option
Pros
Cons
Author
Vote Up
Vote Down
Net Votes
Selected Option
1
Option A
This is a pro
...
This is a con
...
SM
👍
0
👎
0
0
2
Option B
This is a pro
...
This is a con
...
AC
👍
0
👎
0
0
3
Option C
This is a pro
...
This is a con
...
LT
👍
0
👎
0
0
There are no rows in this table


Propose:
Align on a decision

Decision time! The options are clear, the frame is aligned. But how do you socialize and get the teams perspective on the result? When making a tough decision, it’s especially important to proactively identify how people feel overall, and what outstanding concerns exist that stand in the way of commitment. We'll often use the sentiment drag and drop template in Coda to get align on the choice (
/sentiment
):


How do you feel about
@Option A
for
@Idea 1️⃣
?
Add Your Sentiment
Check to show everyone's sentiment (
3
submitted with average sentiment of
3
)
Sentiment
Reflection
Submitted by
1
I am happy
AC
Al Chen
2
I am sad
SM
Shishir Mehrotra
3
I feel ok
ED
Erin Dame
There are no rows in this table



Close
: Commit and determine accountability

Finally the decision is set and it's time to execute. At this point, the primary goal is assigning accountabilities. Generally this is all about communication - getting the word out about a decision in the forums where it matters. Rather than crafting multiple messages individually and losing context, we use the Slack and Gmail
in Coda to capture and send messages to the channels specific to a given decision, linking them back to the context captured in the previous three stages (try the
/decision log
drag-and-drop template here):

Let’s communicate the final decision!
Question?
Decision
Send to Slack
Slack Channel
Send via Email
Email
1
What color should we make the logo?
Options were red, green or blue. Decided on green as it was closest to the rest of our branding.
Slack
my-team
Email
2
When should we launch?
We reviewed all the options (see the write up for more detail) and decided we should launch next Thursday.
Slack
other-team
Email
There are no rows in this table


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