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How to build Consensus as a Facilitator Part 2: Creative Reframing

Creative Reframing

Reframing a problem so that participants can look at the problem in a new light is another technique to build consensus and help groups make decisions as a facilitator. Creative Reframing involves breaking out of our normal categories of analysis and reexamining our beliefs and assumptions.  Creative Reframing helps participants shift their thinking. For example, instead of framing an issue as a problem, reframe it as an opportunity.

You have generated a lot of ideas with a group in a meeting, but now you are stuck because the participants cannot resolve the problem. One can almost guarantee the idea being thrown out the window due to multiple excuses like other departments do not cooperate, we do not have enough people, or infrastructure is not ready and hard to use. Creative reframing enables everyone to look at the problem in a different light.

A new way to look at a problem

Adapted from: Facilitator guide to participatory Decision-Making, by Sam Kaner

Here are a few techniques that can be used as a facilitator to get out of the situation that blocks the project from moving forward. For these Techniques, you can use a flip Chart or any collaboration tool for virtual meetings like Miro, Slack, etc.  Most importantly try to encourage open discussion.

What’s unchangeable about the problem? 

A scrum team in a bank always missed their deliverables every sprint. The reason stated was that the team did not have the right skills to complete everything. Conventional wisdom lead them to hire more team members and they found themselves slowing down even more.

At a retrospective meeting, the discussion quickly became negative as team members started blaming each other. The scrum master decided to take a different direction, She added a flip chart and wrote on top “What’s unchangeable about the problem?”

Everyone was invited to add their thoughts using sticky notes. The team members added ideas like “delivery time”, “stakeholder expectations”, “team size”, , etc.

The scrum master looked at the list and noticed that scope and cross-training was not part of the list. The scrum master started with the idea of cross training by pairing. As soon as pairing was mentioned, many team members reminded the scrum master of the delivery timeline. The scrum master looked at the product owner and asked him if the scope can be managed in the short duration to deliver value and allow for pairing with the assumption that in the future the team could take on things independently. This would instill good practices of co-dependence as well as allow the new team members to learn.

What’s unchangeable About this Problem allows a group to explore hidden assumptions and biases in the way they have defined a problem. Once a group has identified a self-limiting assumption, they often discover a new line of thought that leads to a creative, innovative solution.


A team was struggling with bugs that were found in production. In a retrospective it was found that the reason why bugs were not being found earlier is because most of the testing was manual. Manual testing lead to several errors. The reason the team had to revert to manual testing is because their desktops were not powerful enough to code and build the software as well as run software that would perform the automaton of tests. They needed more powerful computers. So what was the problem?

 Problem statement: In that organization, to get new computers, it took six months from the time a request was made until it was fulfilled.

The team thought nothing could be done about this situation

The scrum master put up a flip chart and wrote the keywords from the problem statemen

Key wordsnew, desktop computers, 6 months  request

By looking at each word separately the team discussed each. Can the request be escalated? they found the if the CTO escalates the request could be fulfilled in 3 months.

Does it have to be new? does it have to be desktop computers?

The team talked to the other teams around the office and  was able to identify that the marketing department has 12 computers in storage reserved for presentations and training They were able to borrow those computers for the 3 months and they worked with the CTO to escalate the request.

Key Words helps people explore the meaning of the statements they make to one another. By discussing the meanings of key words, people can identify unspoken assumptions that are causing miscommunication.

Reversing assumptions

Scenario: An organization was not able to sell its product and the meeting to discuss this started with “We are unable to sell our new product.”

When the facilitator reframed the problem to : “We are going to sell our new product” What is stopping us from doing so and how could be bring about this opposite state of affairs

By reversing its approach, the company was able to realize that it did not target the right audience to market the product. By changing their marketing approach, they were able to get the desired results.

Removing constraints

Scenario: What is keeping us from developing the best solution to this problem?


The team divided the problem into major components by considering questions like

Do we need additional team members?

Do we need more funds?

Are there any dependencies we should eliminate?

What if this was not a problem?

Breaking down the problem into constraints and trying to remove them is another way to resolve the problem

Recentering the cause

Scenario:  Two departments are working on practically identical initiatives, but neither of them is aware of what the other group is doing.

Recentering: If we had a common vision, how would we resolve this issue of people working in silos?


By using recentering technique management was able to identify the root cause and focused more on team building and project management tools to break down silos.


Scenario: The company wants to have a plan for “what to do if their website goes down”


What is the worst-case scenario for this problem? Can we build on each other’s worst-case scenario and come to a doomsday condition and then reverse from there?

Solution:  Company was able to build a reliable fallback plan in case the website was down not only that but also built a guide.

Scrum, Product Management, and DevOps: Simplifying the jargon

The internet and social media are full of Agile, Scrum, Product Management, and DevOps jargon, including incorrect and misunderstood concepts. This could be problematic for a learner seeking knowledge. Without a course with Scrum Alliance,, or DevOps Institute, this knowledge is difficult to achieve.

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