Workshop activity 5: Problem framing


The problem or challenge the company has presented will not be a ‘well-defined’ problem, but it will be a human, messy problem. It will look different depending on who is looking at the problem. A key skill the workshop develops in participants is to re-define the company’s problem so it can be tackled by the team in the short time frame available.

What you need


  • Slides with ‘problem discussion’ and ‘problem framing’ tasks
  • Large pieces of paper
  • Pens

Time: 20 min


  1. Select and present one Problem discussion resource from the Resources section: 

    1. Perspective: Point of view (person; thing; resource)

    2. Prioritisation: classification ladder (importance, complexity)

    3. Map: Scale, location, contexts (5W1H flower)

  2. Give teams 10 min to discuss the problem using the chosen resource structure

  3. Use Problem resource: 'How might we...?'  to ask participants to frame the problem at the end of the discussion (5 min)

  4. Team writes the 'How might we...?' problem statement on a large piece of paper and places it where the team can see if for the rest of the workshop

  5. Each team reads their problem statement to the other teams


(from U101?)

Associated teacher activity

Each trainee selects one approach to problem discussion from the resources and, and presents it to the peers.

The group discusses each approach and selects one to try out for 5 min. using a problem from the Company Problem Sheet.

Create 3-5 HMW Problem Statements in response to the problem. Note down what you find difficult or easy about this. 

The group shares their experiences of issues with the approach and any changes they would make.

Advanced training

There are many different ways to begin analysing, researching and exploring problems. But it is very often this stage that students (and teachers) have the greatest difficulty with.  People naturally want to solve rather than explore problems and this can lead to obvious and simple solutions. 

As you develop experience in this area, note down which forms of problem exploration you think students find most useful. What are the properties of the activity that make these activities better than others?

Look for other methods of problem exploration and framing (there are many methods online) and create your own recipe to try in a workshop based on the properties you listed above.

Last modified: Wednesday, 26 Feb 2020, 17:08