The Situation-Complication-Resolution (SCR) framework

The Situation-Complication-Resolution (SCR) framework

What is it?

The Situation-Complication-Resolution (SCR) framework is strategy that helps you tell story or explain something by first describing the current situation, then introducing a twist or an obstacle, and closing with how it can be overcome or resolved.

The framework is effective because it creates a natural narrative flow that emotionally resonates with audiences on a fundamental level. Here’s how:

  1. Situation: In this initial phase, you set the stage by describing the current state of affairs or context. You provide essential background information, data, or trends relevant to clarifying where things are now. This draws an audience into the story and helps them understand the starting point or baseline of the discussion.
  2. Complication: After presenting the situation, you introduce obstacles, risks, or issues that are impeding progress or causing concern. This part of the framework is designed to introduce tension which triggers empathy or suspense in the audience, further investing them in the narrative.
  3. Resolution: The final phase involves presenting a solution, recommendation, or plan of action to address the complication. This part of the framework outlines a clear and actionable path forward, demonstrating your expertise and providing a basis for decision-making.It also provides closure and satisfaction for an audience, fulfilling their need for a conclusion.

What sets the SCR framework apart for other methods is its universality and adaptability. Consulting firms, management consultants, and professionals across diverse industries have embraced and customized this tool because it excels at getting complex ideas across with clarity and persuasion. But it's not just for experts; the SCR framework is inherently beginner-friendly. It mirrors the way we naturally discuss and solve problems, making it an accessible and high-impact tool for newcomers to the world of presentation storytelling.

When to use it

  1. In presentations where you need to address problems, challenges, or issues.
  2. For pitches, such as business ideas, projects, or investments.
  3. When conveying information to decision-makers or stakeholders who require a structured grasp of the existing situation, possible obstacles, and the strategy to navigate them.

Remember to

  1. Avoid unnecessary jargon or complexity that might confuse the audience.
  2. Ensure that each phase of the SCR framework receives appropriate emphasis. While the complication often grabs attention, it's essential not to rush through the situation or resolution phases.

Step-by-step: How to use the SCR framework


Get your content ready

Start by gathering all the information and data you need for your presentation or story.


Establish the situation

The goal is to explain "what's going on"—to provide a clear understanding of the current state or context. Focus on outlining the existing conditions, environment, or circumstances related to the topic. Provide relevant background information, historical context, or facts to create a foundation for understanding. Note that while the situation statement may hint at a problem or challenge, its primary role is to create a foundation for understanding what follows.


Brainstorm complications

Here, you'll pinpoint specific challenges, obstacles, or complexities that are making it impossible or difficult to move forward. Create a list of complications by answering these questions:

  • What's the main obstacle? Start by drafting the main issue or challenge that's preventing progress.

  • Who's affected? Think about who is impacted by this problem. Are there specific people or groups involved? They're the ones we need to consider.

  • How big is the problem? Picture the size of this problem, like a puzzle piece. Is it a small part of a bigger picture, or does it affect a large area? This helps us understand the problem's scope.

  • Why does it matter? To make it relatable, explain why this problem is important. What's at stake, and why should we care? This helps us see the impact of the problem on the people involved.


Narrow down the most resonate complication

Assess the potential impact of each complication on the target audience and choose the one that resonates most with their interests and concerns.


Craft the resolution

Craft a resolution statement that presents the solution or resolution to the complication introduced earlier. Brainstorm key information, strategies, or actions that will address the problem and lead to a positive outcome.


Draft the presentation outline

Use the completed statements for Situation, Complication, and Resolution to start the formal presentation outline. Make each statement it's own section, and expand through clear explanations that are supported by relevant evidence and examples.

Pay close attention to transitions between sections to guide your audience smoothly from one topic to the next. This helps maintain a logical and coherent flow, preventing the audience from getting lost in the presentation.

Download the SCR framework worksheet