May 27

It’s easy to slip into mental ruts and assumptive behavior when working on a project. If you don’t have a model or method for challenging those assumptions, it can be easy to spin your wheels for days or weeks before realizing that you’re off course.

One simple model that I’ve taught organizations of all sizes is what I call the four As. It’s a series of frames to help you think about the problem differently.

1.Assumptions:Which assumptions do I need to challenge right now? What am I assuming to be true, and what am I assuming to be false? What if they weren’t?

2.Aspirations:What would complete success look like with this proj- ect? How will we know that we’ve done what we set out to do? What would the world look like if I was wildly successful?

3.Affinities:Are there any parallel problems or projects that are similar to this? What can I learn from other industries or other work that I’m familiar with that might help me here?

4.Attributes:What are the core attributes of the problem I’m solving? What are three words that perfectly capture the issue? How can I use those words to help me solve it?

By framing your problem in these four ways, you are likely to dis- cover a different perspective than the one you were previously using.

When you’re stuck on a problem, try to reframe it.


is there a problem you’re stuck on that could benefit from the four As method?

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