Many wise managers and agency partners have taught me over the years that when asking for changes to creative work, framing the problem you want the creatives to solve, versus telling them how to solve it will virtually always get you the best results.

For example, instead of saying this: “Can you make the label bright green?”
Say something like: “I’d like the label to be more noticeable on the package”.

This way, you use the creatives to identify different, multiple ways to solve your problem. Versus spending their time on coming up with the perfect shade of green.

So I was pretty mortified a few weeks ago when I realized that I should have applied this “Frame The Problem” approach to my personal life as well.

I live in on the top floor of a 103-year old vintage 6-flat. Ever since I moved in seven years ago, I’ve been chilly in the wintertime. Now, granted, I live in Chicago, and it is cold here in the winter. But it seemed ridiculous to have to wear long underwear, 2 sweaters and thick wool socks in order to stay warm inside.

I decided that new windows would surely solve my problem. Being the kind of person who gets things done, I hired a contractor and got myself some very nice new windows.

The bummer was, my house was still cold.

Long story short, I finally hired a company, Green Dream Group, to do an energy audit of my home. They took really cool infrared photos of my walls and ceiling. And they noticed something odd: The exterior walls of my home were the same color as my ceiling, a vivid purple, indicating that the two were roughly the same temperature, most likely due to lack of insulation.

A few weeks later, based on Green Dream’s professional assessment and recommendation, I had a company come to insulate the space between my ceiling and my roof. When they cut a hole in my roof and the workers went inside, no one was really surprised to learn that there was actually no insulation at all between my ceiling and the roof! No wonder I’d been cold.

Now I feel like I have a blanket on my head. My house is warmer – even my floors are warmer! Problem solved.

As luck would have it, the insulation cost about 30% of what my new windows cost. If only I had hired a trained professional at the beginning to help me clearly identify the real problem I needed to solve versus trying to use my limited knowledge to play the expert and come up with the solutions myself. I would have saved myself a whole lot of money and the last few winters would have been much toastier!