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  • Iwona Wilson

The Ultimate Guide to Opportunity Framing Workshops

Zaktualizowano: 31 sty

Are you tired of seeing project after project fail to meet their goals? Do you think there's a way to improve project success rates and make a lasting impact?

People putting post it notes on a wall brainstorming for issues
Opportunity Framing Workshop

Imagine a world where every project had a solid foundation from the beginning. A place where teams are aligned, objectives are crystal clear, and risks are mitigated before they arise. Doesn't that sound like a dream? What if I told you it's within your grasp?

This is where Opportunity Framing Workshops come into play. They are a Strategic Business Solution that ignites creativity, explores new perspectives, and drives meaningful change to your business. The purpose of this comprehensive guide is to introduce you to opportunity framing workshops; what they are, how they work, and how they can be leveraged to unlock your team's creative potential and boost strategic growth. Get ready to revolutionize your problem-solving approach and seize new opportunities!

What are Opportunity Framing Workshops?

"Strategic Business Solutions" workshops, or opportunity framing workshops, are dynamic sessions designed to challenge existing mindsets, encourage creative thinking, and identify new opportunities. Unlike traditional strategy meetings, these workshops provide a dedicated space for teams to collaboratively reframe problems as opportunities. By shifting the focus from limitations to potential, participants can generate innovative ideas and develop actionable strategies that drive business growth.

What is the history of Opportunity Framing Workshops?

Opportunity Framing has been used in the oil and gas and pharmaceutical industries for decades and is a value-improving practice. There is no academic definition of opportunity framing but most practitioners define it as:

  • A structured process of defining and shaping an opportunity to identify its potential value and determine the best way to pursue it

  • It’s Expressed as a facilitated workshop

  • Can be applied for a new business venture, an idea, or a project; can be used in mergers and acquisitions, joint venture alignment, new start-ups, the strategic planning process - it's an innovation process - used for any new idea whatever the idea is about

  • When it comes to the project lifecycle, it is used at the start of stage 1 the Assess, and often for reframing or frame validation at the start of stage 2, the Concept phase.

5 stage approach to project management highlighting framing to take place at the start of stage 1 and stage 2
Relationship between Framing and the Stage Gate Process

The objective is to ensure the right problem is tackled, from the right perspective, by the right people at the right time, with the right tools.

Opportunity framing involves considering various aspects of the opportunity, including its size, potential market, competition, stakeholders, organizational strategies and business objectives, short and long-term vision, resources including people, deliverables, activities, funding required, and risks involved.

This information is used to develop a clear understanding of the opportunity, define the steps necessary to pursue it, and generate stakeholder alignment.

By clearly defining an opportunity and understanding its potential, organizations can make informed decisions about how to pursue it. This is whether through investment, partnerships, or other means.

Why projects should be framed?

2022 Studies from TeamStage, reveal that 70% of all projects fail. See some of the results of their study in their Editor’s Choice below. A very small percentage of site-based projects successfully reach the business goals specified at project authorisation.

Historical evidence demonstrates that this issue has persisted in the past. Based on a study conducted by Independent Project Analysis, Inc. (IPA) in April 2010, as reported by Ashburn, Va. (Vocus/PRWEB), it was revealed that a mere one in three site-based projects successfully achieved the predetermined business objectives set during project authorization.

Upon analyzing over 1,000 projects from more than 100 manufacturing sites worldwide, the study found that, on average, only 37 percent of projects at a given site met these success criteria.

Why vast majority of projects fail?

Several factors contributes to project failures, including insufficient project definition, project managers juggling too many concurrent projects, inadequate involvement of key project stakeholders during the definition phase, and implementing design changes after the final investment decision had been made.

In our online course "Complex Projects - The Winning Game Plan", we explore why vast majority of projects fail.

Watch Lesson 2 in Module 1 of the online course: "The Winners versus the Losers":

Address Risks Early On In Your Project With Front-End Loading.

For a project manager, front-end loading, or FEL, is not a new concept. When a project is front-end loaded, it means that you have put a significant effort into the planning or definition phase of the project.

Frame projects at the early stage of project planning
Front-End Loading and Framing

The chart above shows that even projects with good project management and execution but low project definition achieve lower outcomes than projects with good project definition and poor execution.

Ultimately, the goal of FEL project management is to ensure that you are going to meet the schedule and budget (which determines the ROI) set for the project.

Using opportunity framing improves front-end loading, which occurs throughout the first phases of an opportunity.

In what situations can Opportunity Framing Workshops be beneficial?

Imagine you're a small business owner looking to expand your operations. You're faced with a problem, you're not sure if you should invest in new equipment or open a new location. With Opportunity Framing, you can bring together a team of stakeholders, including employees, suppliers, and customers, and explore the different options. By creating a shared pool of meaning and understanding the different perspectives involved, you can make a more informed decision and increase the chances of success.

Or perhaps you are an Executive looking to build a new LNG plant or expand the existing facilities and you want to understand how this new idea would fit into your business strategy and what work is required to make it happen before you invest anything.

Or, let's say you're a project manager working on a large infrastructure project. The project is facing a problem with delays and cost overruns. With Opportunity Framing, you can bring together a diverse group of stakeholders, including engineers, contractors, and government officials, and explore the different causes of the problem. You can find possible solutions and agree on a plan of action by having a structured conversation. This can help get the project back on track and reduce the chances of further delays and cost overruns.

Mergers & Acquisitions – framing potential acquisition targets prior to the investment or bringing on board a new project team once the investment has been made.

Joint Ventures – overcoming the challenges of different working cultures and company expectations by framing the opportunity with the combined team.

As you can see, the possibilities are endless with Opportunity Framing. The intent of this method is not to be too prescriptive but to provide enough room for people to leverage their own personal style and creativity. It's a tool that can help you think outside the box and come up with innovative solutions to the problems you're facing.

What are the key questions to answer during the framing workshop?

Here are the key questions asked during the framing workshop with the corresponding framing tools.

  • What are we working on and why? (Opportunity Statement, Strategic Fit, Value Drivers)

  • Does this type of opportunity make sense for us? (SWOT Analysis, Strategic Fit)

  • What are we hoping to accomplish and what is required? (Definition of Success)

  • What issues do we need to consider and address? (Issues raising)

  • Which issues represent decisions, uncertainties…?(Issues Sorting)

  • Which of these decisions is the highest priority? (Decision Hierarchy)

  • What alternatives do we have to these? (Strategy Table)

  • How will we decide between these? (Decision Criteria)

  • Who can help us? (Stakeholders Analysis)

  • What do we need to do to gain clarity? (Roadmap, Action Planning)

Where else could Framing be used for?

Here are some scenarios where opportunity framing workshops can be particularly beneficial:

  • Strategic Planning: When initiating or revisiting strategic planning efforts, opportunity framing workshops can provide new tools to explore the current state in more depth that the traditional strategic planning process and therefore, help identify new directions or approaches.

  • Problem Solving: When faced with complex challenges or stagnant growth, opportunity framing workshops can help shift perspectives and uncover innovative solutions. These workshops enable participants to reframe problems as opportunities, encouraging fresh thinking and the exploration of alternative approaches.

  • New Product or Service Development: Prior to embarking on the development of a new product or service, conducting opportunity framing workshops can help define customer needs, identify market gaps, and generate creative ideas for product features or service offerings.

  • Organizational Change or Transformation: During times of significant change, such as mergers, acquisitions, or shifts in the competitive landscape, opportunity framing workshops can assist in navigating uncertainty and proactively identifying new opportunities for growth and adaptation.

  • Team Building and Collaboration: Conducting opportunity framing workshops can foster team cohesion, collaboration, and alignment. These workshops provide a space for individuals from different departments or teams to come together, share perspectives, and collectively work towards common goals.

The Benefits of Opportunity Framing Workshops include:

  • Creativity: Opportunity framing workshops create an environment where participants can think freely, question assumptions, and explore unconventional perspectives. This approach stimulates creativity and empowers individuals to generate fresh, outside-the-box ideas.

  • Collective Intelligence: By bringing together diverse stakeholders, opportunity framing workshops foster collaboration and harness collective intelligence. Different perspectives and expertise fuel richer discussions, leading to more robust and innovative solutions.

  • Strategic Agility: In today's rapidly changing business landscape, adaptability is key. Opportunity framing workshops equip teams with the mindset and tools to identify emerging trends, adapt to new challenges, and seize opportunities before competitors.

  • Action-Oriented Approach: These workshops extend beyond generating ideas—they focus on converting insights into actionable strategies. Participants develop a tactical roadmap with milestones, activities, deliverables, and roles to implement identified opportunities.

Tips for a Successful Opportunity Framing Workshop:

  • Understand the objectives –as part of the preparation, understand what is it that we are trying to achieve collectively.

  • Understand how this opportunity or a project can fit into organizational strategic directions – as part of preparation, conduct strategic fit analysis. Watch this video explaining what is a strategic for analysis.

  • Decide on who needs to be involved and when – the key to success is to align the right stakeholders at the right time. For large and complex projects consider facilitating a strategic frame first with the key decision-makers to align upon the definition of success, value drivers and nonnegotiable givens before developing a tactical roadmap.

  • Decide on the amount of preparation required – agree with the decision-makers up front what level of details is required as an outcome, how much work needs to be done to present the case, etc.

  • Decide on the Framing Facilitator – select a Facilitator who has no vested interest in the outcome of this conversation, for example it should not be a Project Manager. Make sure that the Framing Facilitator is an expert in the Stage Gate Process, roadmapping and possess excellent facilitation skills.

  • Selecting the right tools – make sure you don’t duplicate the tools but choose the right tools considering the context, the group, and your own preferences.

  • Ensure that participants are familiar to some extent with the tools – so that they are not too surprised with the structure – check out my training course!

  • Foster Psychological Safety: create an environment where participants feel safe to share ideas, challenge the status quo, and take risks without fear of judgment.

  • Develop a roadmap: develop concrete roadmap with milestones, activities, deliverables, roles for the current and the next phase.

  • Follow-up and Accountability: ensure ongoing commitment by establishing mechanisms for tracking progress, providing support, and fostering accountability among team members.

Remember, the timing of opportunity framing workshops should align with your organization's readiness and availability of key stakeholders. It's important to ensure that participants can fully engage and contribute to the workshop without significant conflicts or distractions from day-to-day operations.

The truth is early engagement and alignment hold incredible power. When we invest time and effort in framing projects or initiatives effectively right from the beginning, we set ourselves up for success. We establish a solid roadmap, anticipate potential roadblocks, and foster collaboration that drives us forward.

Learn how we can assist you in Framing your next Opportunity. Book your free no - obligation 30 min consult here or email us at

Do you need our comprehensive training on Opportunity Framing and the Stage Gate Process?

To learn more about the Stage-Gate Process and Opportunity Framing Workshops, we recommend self-paced online courses available here:

Read about the curriculum and Watch the bonus sessions for FREE

These courses are recommended for:

  • Oil and gas, chemical, nuclear, government or construction, working on complex projects requiring multi-level stakeholders engagement.

  • Development or Project Manager working at the Idea or a Concept stage.

  • A Decision-Maker responsible for Go/No Go project decisions.

  • A Functional Manager responsible for resource management and allocation.

  • Framing Facilitator's responsible for framing opportunities at the idea or concept stage.

Sky is the limit - Custom Solutions

Every organization has its own set of needs and wants. If your organization is interested in training employees on the stage gate process and opportunity framing workshops, we offer tailored solutions. Please contact us here to discuss your requirements.



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