Helpful Frame

Zoom in on the decision

Decision Focus 03: Helpful Frame

Framing is clarifying the decision we’re tackling.

To properly frame a decision, we need to define what it is that we are deciding, what we are not deciding, what we should take as given, and what goals we wish to achieve.

Framing is clarifying the decision we’re tackling. To properly frame a decision, we need to define what it is that we are deciding, what we are not deciding, what we should take as given, and what goals we wish to achieve.

A decision frame has three components: (1) Purpose—what we hope to accomplish by this decision; (2) Scope—what to include and exclude in the decision; and (3) Perspective—our point of view about this decision, consideration of other ways to approach it, how others might approach it.

Framing is like taking a picture with a zoom camera.  What we include inside the picture is the scope. From where we take the picture to get the right lighting and angle is our perspective. And what kind of picture we want—for example, an action shot or portrait—is the purpose.

How to Frame a Decision

To begin

  • State the problem (what it is, what it is not, what the issues are).
  • Determine whether this is part of a bigger decision that should be addressed now.
  • Determine whether you may be covering too much ground.

Ask your head

  • Why is the problem difficult to solve? What factors are involved?
  • What are you taking as given?

Ask your heart

  • Whose choice is it? Is the decision yours alone?
  • Who needs to be involved to reach a decision that makes sense and feels right?
  • What would keep you from acting if you saw the answer clearly?
  • How would someone else you trust and admire frame this situation?

Tools and good practice

  • Statement of vision, purpose, short- and long-term goals
  • List of things taken as given
  • List of head and heart issues
  • Brainstorming
  • Consult with others for important and/or life-shaping decisions. Expanding and contracting the frame—try multiple frames before settling on one that’s best

Traps to avoid

  • Plunging in to make a decision without thinking about the frame
  • Being limited by fears, peer pressure, etc.
  • Framing the problem too narrowly to bring it into your comfort zone or too broadly to make it difficult to address
  • Making wrong assumptions—taking things as given that don't have to be

Downloadable Files

Decision Focus Video 02 Worksheet
Decision Focus Video 02 Worksheet

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Decision Focus Video 02 Worksheet

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Decision Focus Video 02 Worksheet

Decision Traps Quiz
Decision Traps Quiz

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Decision Traps Quiz

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Decision Traps Quiz

Carl Spetzler talks about Decision Frame

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