Perhaps, in the eye of God, everything is transparent and simple. But for us mere mortals, “what you see” is not necessarily “what you get.” Often an issue has become a problem (or is about to become a problem) because each of the participants is caught in his/her own perspective on this issue and cannot “see” it from the other’s point of view. This is the kernel of truth in postmodernism—that each of us is, in fact, bound by our own perspective and interpretation of the world (where some postmodernists go wrong, however, is in asserting that there is no way to select among perspectives, that there is no internal logic by which to choose, so all perspectives are “equally” valid—or invalid). When an issue seems to be “stuck,” frequently the solution lies in “reframing” the issue, in looking at it with new eyes. As John Aubrey’s Dr. Pell was wont to say, “Let the question be but well-stated, it will work almost of itselfe.”
There is no single best way to reframe an issue. In this unit we will consider three approaches: Coplin & O’Leary (1972) developed the PRINCE analysis to help one think through issues where your goal is to “get some other people to act or stop acting in a certain way” so you can achieve what you want (p. 4). Ury (1991) describes a technique for “breakthrough negotiations” when you need to move from mounting the barricades to sitting down side by side to jointly solve a problem. Bolman & Deal (1997) broadened the framework analysis to include four perspectives—the structural, human resource, political, and symbolic dimensions.
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© 1996 A.J.Filipovitch
Revised 11 March 2005