From Problem Solving to Possibility Finding

Mar 31, 2023
An old-fashioned street sign at the intersection of Impossible and Possible

“People are disturbed not by a thing, but by their perception of a thing.” — Epictetus

Got stress? You are not alone. Ninety-four percent of workers report feeling stressed according to The American Institute of Stress, and today’s Kickstarters topic looked at an issue that was causing a very stressful situation in a company.  While we were creating a positive frame for the issue, a question arose about why the approach works. Michael Emmart, co-author of Conversations Worth Having for Clinicians, Case Workers, and Coaches, explained how flipping an issue and creating a positive frame helps us shift our perspective in any situation from problem solving to possibility finding. Epictetus would be proud.

Positive Frame

Name it: The bulk of the company doesn’t understand the CEO’s vision.

Flip it: The whole company is aligned with the vision.

Frame it: We’re excited to work together toward the vision and generating highly successful outcomes.

 Other suggested frames:

  • We really are a leadership team in sync and positively moving forward.
  • We have high collaboration in a psychologically safe space.
  • We are all in this together.
  • I see myself and my role in the new vision.
  • We support one another, and confidence would make creativity possible.


Generative Questions  

To have a conversation worth having using this frame, the group crafted the following generative questions:

  • What is happening for me when I feel excited about work? What am I doing?
  • What would it look like to be excited about our work and to be growing financially?
  • In our most successful past projects, where we made money, what did we do?
  • How does our collaborative work position us to excel?
  • What are our key priorities?
  • What needs to be different for us to feel excited about our work and to be moving towards a shared vision?
  • What have you seen from high performing high collaborative teams at other portfolio firms with high psychological safety?
  • What structure and supports can we put in place to allow us to move toward a shared vision?
  • What do we need for everybody to feel aligned with the vision?
  • What is your vision for this adventure? What would it look like?
  • What would it look like for us to move towards a shared vision?
  • Think of a time when you felt excited and moving towards a shared vision. What was happening that allowed that to happen?
  • What should this company look like moving forward? What is your ideal work environment?


Cool Tip

Michael shared that when we only look at what is wrong with an issue, an already stressful situation can become even more frustrating and energy draining. Yet, if we can shift our perspective by designing a positive frame and asking generative questions, we experience optimistic energy and set the stage for collaboration and creativity.  Got stress? Get a positive frame.

Shared by Sylvette Wake, WakeUP Training & Certified Conversations Worth Having Trainer



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