Reframing Training: 8 Tips On How To R.E.F.R.A.M.E. Training Problems

Reframing Training: 8 Tips On How To R.E.F.R.A.M.E. Training Problems
Summary: Only 8% of business leaders see Learning and Development business impact! The value of L&D is not in the visible course content, it's in the invisible behavioral change. The era of order-taking. content-tossing is gone. Reframing is a tool that can help you see the WORL&D in a different light!

What You Need To Know About Reframing Training

The heart of the matter is often human-centered, not content-centered.” – Anonymous Instructional Designer

I found my two-year old daughter on the living room floor, sobbing. She was pulling her little hair. When I asked her what hurts, she said: "my hair." I was convinced we’re going to the ER right away with some head injury. Then, I asked her why her "hair" hurts. She said: “because I’m pulling it.”

Reframing a problem is the process of looking at the same problem from a different perspective. Reframing is a technique used in psychology [1] to deal with emotions, but also in design thinking to find innovative [2] solutions. Often, without reframing the problem, you’re searching for answer to a question that is not the right question to ask in the first place.

How Does Reframing Help With Training/Learning?

Learning and Development often gets “training” request to solve problems that are not (or just are partially) training problems. The time of order-taking is gone! The value of L&D is not the visible content we create but invisible behavioral change we make. That is the heart of the matter. Therefore, we need to approach “training” problems with an open mind by reframing it as a business problem. (Without reframing, your solution is most likely a training asset. If the training asset won't solve the problem, for the business, you were not an asset-creator, you were just a content-tosser. That is probably why only 8% of leaders see L&D business impact [3] at all.)

Example Of Reframing A Problem In Learning And Development

“Can we have five confirmation of learning questions at the end of the module?” is a question/request you are probably familiar with. The answer is yes. Of course, it’s built-in! No charge! We’re all happy!

However, asking why, you may discover the underlying need: “Otherwise people don’t pay attention.” Now, we can reframe the problem: “Is there a way to make people pay attention?” The answer is the same: Yes. And I’m sure your brain cells are already in full-gear designing how to…

8 Tips On How To R.E.F.R.A.M.E. A Training Problem:

1. R-ethink The Question

"Can you build an engaging training asset by deadline, under budget with high quality?" – Sure! I’ll deliver one by the deadline. And another under the budget. And a third with high quality. Yet, probably none of them will solve the problem your boss is trying to address. Ask about the driving business goal and the measurement of success. Find out what your stakeholder’s stakeholder actual business problem is.

2. E-ngage The Right People, In The Right Context

Without key players, the training is doomed from the beginning. No, in terms of tracking and completion, it’s going to be fine. But again, is that value you’re advertising? There’s no direct training impact on performance. People don’t perform better because of training. They perform better because they learn something that they apply on the job. L&D should be like a conductor, invisible, yet essential for the performance. Find the right people! Those who are impacted directly and those who manage those impacted directly. Shadow them. Interview them. The more you know about the context of the problem, the better.

3. F-ocus On The "Why"

You’d be surprised how many times people never discuss why people are not doing what they’re supposed to be doing. Or, why are they doing what they’re not supposed to be doing. Without knowing why, you can build the most engaging content with no actual impact. Engaging the right people in the right context will help you to get to the heart of the matter. Surprisingly, the answer might be completely different whose heart it is (leadership, supervisors, agents, etc.)

4. R-eshape The Problem

Now that you know who’s involved, and what’s holding them back, it’s time to rephrase the original problem. Most likely, by now, you have many sub-problems. Some of these “obstacalities” are knowledge-based (people just don’t know it or don’t know the resource they would need to use), some are skill-based (people need to practice), some are motivation-based (they know what to do, they know how to do it, yet…), and some are completely out of our control (bad system design, lack of resources). Each of these obstacalities requires a different type of approach to address. The least you can do is show the landscape of problems to your stakeholders, and then point out where training/learning might actually help.

5. A-ssume Nothing

Golden rule of innovative thinking is that you don’t assume anything. Just because “we’ve tried it already” or “we’ve always done it this way” exist, it doesn’t mean they are set in concrete. Often, shaking bad concrete foundations is what a problem needs.

6. M-ake Lots Of Bad Ideas

Brainstorm ideas. Do it individually. Allow everyone to come up with as many solutions as they can. Go for quantity! To have a good idea, you may need lots of crappy ones. Research shows [3] that brainstorming is more effective when done individually first. This allow the introverts, the slow but creative thinkers to contribute before they “conform” to the loud ones.

7. E-xplore Potential Solutions

Harvest time! Put all ideas on the table. Time to bring the team together to filter out potential solutions. Eliminate by desirability, feasibility, and viability. Build prototypes to test.

R.E.F.R.A.M.E. the WORL&D!

More about the R.E.F.R.A.M.E. THE WORL&D! at ENGAGE THE WORL&D



  1. Cognitive Reframing
  2. How Reframing A Problem Unlocks Innovation
  3. 2017 Learning Workplace Report
  4. Why Group Brainstorming Is a Waste of Time