Why use frame creation?
Frame Creation is a methodology developed by professor Kees Dorst based on his extensive studies of the practices of expert designers. He found that what designers are particularly good at is finding new frames or perspectives on problems. These new frames subsequently support the generation of innovative solutions. Through experimenting with this innovation approach in the Designing Out Crime research Dorst found that this approach can successfully be applied outside the traditional design domain to support solving open, complex, dynamic and networked problems. We now also apply this methodology in the Design Innovation Research Centre to problems across domains such as education, health, housing, community and employment.
How does it work?
Dorst elaborately describes the methodology in his new book ‘Frame Innovation, Create New Thinking by Design’ (2015). Frame creation is a 9-step method. The ‘archaeology’ (1) and ‘paradox’ (2) step are aimed at investigating the problem as it is currently defined and asking why it is so hard to solve. The ‘context’ (3) and ‘field’ (4) step are aimed at identifying the stakeholders and their needs. The next step is the identification and analysis of reoccurring ‘themes’ (5) found within those needs. Themes are human values and meanings that underlie the experiences of stakeholders. In the ‘frame’ (6) step these themes are used to seek new perspectives on the problem. Fruitful frames open up new directions for solutions or ‘futures’ (7). The ‘transformation’ (8) step is aimed at analysing the feasibility of these solutions and exploring what changes are needed in the practices of the participating organisations to implement these solutions. Finally, ‘integration’ (9) is about adjusting the innovation practice of the organisation based on what can be learned from the application of the frame creation process.
In our projects we apply different methods within each of the steps. For example, we use techniques such as storytelling and probes to analyse the needs of the stakeholders in the context and field step of the methodology. A key element of any frame creation project is a frame creation workshop in which we analyse themes and reframe problems with a design team and/ or a group of key stakeholders.