Step 2: Frame the problem

Framing the problem involves answering two questions: what is changing and how is it changing.

By asking what is changing teams put their finger on the key variable in the situation. What is it that is increasing, decreasing or simply will not go away? What is it that intrigues or bothers you?

Tip: use a positive or neutral noun to name a variable, rather than a verb. E.g., the quantity of plastic waste.

Once teams agree on what their focus is, they then need to ask: How is it changing? The objective here is to describe how the key variable has changed over time. We can do this by writing a problem statement. By focusing on a specific behaviour over time, the team frames its thinking for steps 3, 4 and 5.

Tip: A problem statement is made up of three parts: a variable, a behaviour (increase/decrease, magnitude), a time period. E.g., The quantity of plastic waste has increased globally by 5 billion tons since 1950.