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Reframe - A New Perspective

It's snowing again. It's March, and the groundhog suggested an early spring - ha!

I grew up just west of Syracuse, NY, deep into the snowbelt. My dad, who spent his entire life in upstate New York, had a great saying for the long, cold, snowy winter:

There's no such thing as bad weather; only inappropriate clothing.

Classic dad. Classic Reframing - setting a new perspective, shifting from what you couldn't control to something you could change, take action against, and feel better. Classic dad.

Reframing is an essential step in establishing a strategy and, more importantly, defining the change agenda necessary to realize the desired transformation. Reframing consists of 3 key elements:

  • Explore an external or alternative perspective

  • Assess the needs or preferences emerging from the new perspective in context of key players involved in your transformation

  • Connect the dots to incorporate, adjust, and recognize the reframed elements into your path forward.

Blah Blah Blah. That's a lot of words for something very practical - have you ever looked at a photograph in landscape vs portrait mode? Cropped in for a new photo, buried within the noise of a larger picture? Literally changed the frame for a fresh look?

Let's consider an example - yes, a movie example!

Working Girl, starring Melanie Griffith, Sigourney Weaver, and a young Harrison Ford; this movie celebrated it's 30 year anniversary recently, a memorable romantic comedy from a lost time of shoulder pads and white Reebok tennis shoes. Back to Reframing - here's the plot:

  • Tess (Griffith) is a sweet secretary, recently assigned to a notoriously mean boss (Weaver). When the boss is injured in a skiing accident, Tess finds herself impersonating the boss - if only for a day or two - to impress the good looking Jack (Ford).

  • She pitches a unique deal for the big kahuna client, Trask, and gets caught (of course) by the boss's untimely return to work. In order to defend her reputation and prove that the deal was her idea, Tess has to explain how she conceived of the proposal in, quite literally, an elevator speech between the lobby and the 20th floor.

  • "And I thought Trask - Radio" is the pivotal reframing line, explaining how reading the newspaper society page article on Trask's daughter's wedding announcement and an add for the local Radio station prompted her proposal. She connected dots that the formal M&A team wouldn't have considered, based on a fresh perspective and integration of seemingly disconnected elements.

  • Of course, in '80s Rom-Com fashion, the boss was disgraced, Tess was promoted, she moved in with Jack, and she was kind to her new secretary - the underdog wins again!

Tess used her unique perspective and experiences to connect new dots in the context of the desired business objective (for Trask), and presented a better outcome for both the client and, as a result, for herself. Success!!!

There are many examples of Reframing that have resulting in successes:

  • news and sports available 24 hours/ day on extended TV channel delivery (another '80s reference)

  • music delivery via the iPod, with on-demand purchases through Apple

  • on-demand video rental from your home, no longer requiring a trip to the video store

  • turn by turn navigation and maps online; then incorporating this capability into treadmills/ stationary bicycles for an engaging experience

Some misguided/missing reframing has resulted in catastrophic failure - consider New Coke, Kodak's double down on film, Sears in the home delivery business well before Amazon.

Reframe your strategic approach with 3 questions:

- How might we look at the issue differently/ with fresh perspective?

- What needs/ preferences do these new perspectives present?

- How might we incorporate these alternatives to create a better product/ service/ approach?

There's no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.

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