Mar 9, 2023

SCQA Framework: Examples and How to Use It

SCQA Framework
The SCQA (Situation, Complication, Question, and Answer) framework, palso known as the Minto Pyramid Principle, is a communication and problem-solving tool that breaks down complex ideas into simpler, more manageable parts.

SCQA is often used in a business context where time is limited and decision-makers have to quickly grasp important information.

Understanding the SCQA Framework

The SCQA format has four components:

ComponentDescription
SituationEstablish the context or background of the issue.
ComplicationIdentify the challenge or problem that arises within this context.
QuestionPose the question that needs to be addressed to resolve the complication.
AnswerProvide a clear, concise solution to the posed question.

Benefits of Using the SCQA Framework

Here are some of the benefits that you can enjoy by using the SCQA framework in your business communications:

Clarity

The SCQA framework provides a clear and structured approach. Breaking down information into these four parts ensures messages are clear and easy to understand.

Conciseness

In business communication, where time is often limited, the SCQA framework enables you to convey ideas and strategies concisely. By focusing on the most important points and presenting them logically, you can communicate your ideas much faster.

Faster decision-making

With SCQA, decision-makers can better understand the challenge and their options when information is presented clearly.

Practical Applications of the SCQA Framework

These SCQA framework examples can give you an idea of how to use it in a business context.

Strategy SCQA Example

The SCQA Framework offers a useful approach for presenting strategy in a clear and succinct manner. A key aspect of effective strategy is the ability to convey it in just a few paragraphs. Applying the SCQA Framework, let's consider how Facebook's strategy can be described.

SCQA ComponentExample
SituationFacebook has remained the most used social platform worldwide for almost two decades, with over 2.9 billion monthly active users.
ComplicationFacebook faces a number of challenges in terms of maintaining user engagement and growth, while also addressing concerns around privacy.
QuestionHow can Facebook continue to grow its user base and engagement, while also addressing concerns around privacy, misinformation, and content moderation?
AnswerFacebook's strategy involves 3 strategic initiatives, including:
1. Investing in new products and features that enhance the user experience and keep users engaged on the platform.
2. Expanding into new markets and demographics, including developing countries and older users, to grow its user base.
3. Addressing concerns around privacy by implementing stronger data protection policies and giving users more control over their data.

When sharing a strategy with your team, it's important to consider how to make it easily digestible and understandable. A concise, one-page strategy example can be a great way to achieve this, as it allows staff to quickly absorb key information without being overwhelmed by excessive detail. By avoiding lengthy documents, you increase the likelihood of your team engaging with your strategy, and can ensure that they are able to identify the most important information at a glance.

It’s worth noting that your one-page strategy, even if it involves compressing a longer document to a single page, nonetheless has all the important information and supporting documentation.


Product Feature SCQA Example

The SCQA framework can be used to describe new product features. By using this framework, you can break down your description of new product features into smaller, more manageable parts, making it easier for your audience to understand and digest:

SCQA ComponentExample
SituationCurrently, we use only one product image on our product page, whereas our competitors use at least five images per page. Based on our user research, when we showed the product pages to our customers, 8 out of 10 of them expected to see more images of the product, and they felt that one image was not sufficient to make a purchase decision.
ComplicationAdding more photos to the product page would require additional production costs.
QuestionWhat should we do?
AnswerRun an AB test, where we compare the conversion rate of product pages with one image versus product pages with at least five images.


Sales Process SCQA Example

You can use the SCQA method in any area of a business.
SCQA ComponentExample
SituationOur current sales process involves multiple manual steps.
ComplicationThis leads to errors and delays.
QuestionHow can we streamline this process?
AnswerImplement an automated sales management system to reduce errors and improve efficiency.

Team Productivity SCQA Example


SCQA ComponentExample
SituationThe team spends too much time on administrative tasks.
ComplicationThis reduces productivity and focus on core activities.
QuestionHow can we improve productivity?
AnswerIntroduce a new project management tool to streamline administrative tasks and free up time for critical work.


Email SCQA Framework Example

I suggest watching "Executive Communication w/ Harrison Metal" for a summary of the theory and examples. An example email from it is shown below.

Before: Narrative style
We’re doing OK in the watches category but not as great as we could be doing. We have decent growth rate and the new promotions coming up are excellent. But I don’t like what I am seeing on the repeat purchase rates. They are down about 10% versus last month. I think we should make it a priority to do more research with users. Maybe we can also test some higher frequency email campaigns. We’re already locked and loaded on those new promotions so that will be good to get those out.

After: SCQA framework applied
The watches category is critical to our growth strategy. It’s 15% of our sales and a gateway category for jewellery and shoes (Situation).

Repeat purchase rates are down 10% versus last month (Complication).

What should we do? (Question)

Let’s improve marketing and merchandising to our buyers (Answer):
1. Increase cross-marketing of other categories in email [evidence]
2. Accelerate release of two new sub-categories [evidence]
3. Do a price-promo to lapsed buyers test [evidence]


SCQA Presentation Example

The SCQA framework for presentation is particularly effective in ensuring that your message is clear and impactful. When presenting, it's crucial to be concise and direct, making SCQA an ideal format.

SCQA ComponentExample
SituationOur company has been experiencing a decline in market share.
ComplicationCompetitors have launched new products that are outperforming ours.
QuestionHow can we regain our market position?
AnswerImplement a three-phase strategy:
1. Innovate new features for our existing products.
2. Increase marketing efforts targeting new demographics.
3. Improve customer service to boost brand loyalty.


SCQA Notion Template

If you’re interested in using the SCQA method, you’re welcome to use the SCQA Notion template to help you get started. This template is easy to use and will help you break down a problem or question into its key components: the situation, the complication, the question, and the answer.

By utilising the SCQA framework, you can assist your company in making better decisions and effectively communicating concepts and strategies. Explore the "Product Strategy Canvas" as a different tool for communicating strategy as well.

SCQA Templates

SCQA Framework Template
SCQA template
About Max Antonov
Head of Product @ Backpocket and a Product Coach. I write about product management and random topics that are on my mind. You can find me on Twitter, Substack, LinkedIn or Goodreads