2.5 Can you think of this problem in a different way? Can you reframe it?

This final question pulls all the information you have gathered so far together. You are likely to have a lot of information at this point, some of it contradictory. Reflecting on this information and answering the three key questions below can help you capture what you have learnt from this process.

  1. Have you captured the viewpoints and interests of all stakeholders?
  2. Can you organise the material in a way that helps you understand the problem more thoroughly and provides a guide for action?
  3. Do you have enough information to revise or reframe the problem?

Case Study 3, below, is an example of how a problem was reframed.

Case Study 3: Reframing the Problem

Samwarit undertook a problem definition of Ethiopia’s achievements in reaching Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5: cutting child mortality rates (MDG 4) and maternal mortality rates (MDG5). Ethiopia reached its target for cutting child mortality rates two years ahead of schedule, in 2013. However, progress with cutting maternal mortality rates has been disappointing. At this point, Samwarit had conceived the problem to be ‘how to cut maternal mortality rates.’ However, after carrying out a problem definition exercise, she reframed the problem.

What the tool helped to reveal was that the improvements in reducing child-mortality rates applied to children dying between the ages of one month and 60 months, but neonatal mortality rates (children dying before one month) have not dropped in line with these. Moreover, the factors that lead to neonatal deaths are very similar to those that cause maternal deaths, which are different from those that cause child deaths.

For these reasons, although MDG 4 groups all child mortalities together, Samwarit reframed the problem, regrouping maternal and neonatal deaths as one problem, and child deaths (defined as between one and 60 months) as a separate problem.

(Adapted from: Childs and Fawssett, 2015)

2.4 What evidence do you have that this is worth the investment?

3 Complete a problem definition of your own