Situation Complication Resolution - The SCR Framework

The "Situation-Complication-Resolution" (SCR) framework is commonly used in business communication, storytelling, and problem-solving to structure information and presentations effectively. It helps in organizing thoughts and arguments logically and persuasively. Here's a breakdown of each component:

Situation: This is the starting point of the narrative or analysis, where you describe the current state, context, or background of the issue. The situation is typically neutral and sets the stage for the complication. The situation should be clear and succinct so the audience understands the context of the subsequent points.

Complication: After establishing the situation, you introduce a problem, challenge, or change that disrupts the status quo. This complication creates a conflict or a gap between the current state and a desired state or goal. It's the part of the narrative that grabs the audience's attention by highlighting what's at stake and why there's a need for change or action.

Resolution: Finally, you present a solution, response, or course of action to address the complication. The resolution should logically follow from the complication and ideally lead to a resolution of the issue. It can involve a recommendation, a plan, a solution, or an insight that helps to overcome the challenge posed by the complication. The resolution solves the conflict and moves the audience towards a desired outcome.

The SCR framework is effective because it mirrors the natural pattern of problem-solving and decision-making. It guides the audience through a logical progression from identifying a problem to finding a solution, making it easier for them to understand and be persuaded by your argument. The framework is versatile, and you can use it in various contexts, from writing reports and making business presentations to storytelling and strategic planning.

SCR Framework Situation Complication Resolution


Let's consider a hypothetical business scenario involving the optimization of a supply chain process to illustrate the Situation-Complication-Resolution (SCR) framework:


ABC Corporation, a leading consumer electronics manufacturer, has been experiencing steady growth in demand for its products. The company prides itself on its efficient production processes and ability to promptly meet market demand. ABC Corporation's extensive supply chain involves multiple suppliers across different continents, ensuring a consistent supply of raw materials and components.


Recently, ABC Corporation has encountered significant challenges in its supply chain operations. The lead times for receiving essential components have doubled due to increased global demand and logistical disruptions. These delays have resulted in production bottlenecks, leading to missed delivery deadlines and dissatisfaction among key customers. Additionally, the lack of a real-time inventory management system has exacerbated stock imbalances, leading to either excess inventory of some components or severe shortages of others. These issues have impacted the company's ability to fulfill orders on time and led to a noticeable decline in customer satisfaction and loyalty, threatening the company's market position and revenue growth.


To address these supply chain inefficiencies, ABC Corporation decides to implement a comprehensive supply chain optimization strategy. The plan involves the following key actions:

Adopting Advanced Analytics and AI: ABC Corporation invests in advanced analytics and artificial intelligence to improve demand forecasting and supply chain visibility. This technology enables the company to predict demand more accurately and adjust its supply chain operations accordingly, reducing the risk of stock imbalances.

Supplier Diversification: The company undertakes an initiative to diversify its supplier base, reducing dependency on any single supplier or region. This diversification helps mitigate risks associated with supply chain disruptions and ensures a more reliable supply of raw materials and components.

Implementing a Real-Time Inventory Management System: To overcome the issues related to inventory management, ABC Corporation implements a state-of-the-art real-time inventory management system. This system provides real-time visibility into inventory levels across all warehouses, enabling more effective inventory control and reducing the likelihood of stock shortages or excesses.

Enhancing Supplier Collaboration: The company strengthens its collaboration with key suppliers by establishing joint planning and forecasting processes. This improved collaboration ensures better alignment between supply and demand, leading to more efficient supply chain operations.

Through these strategic initiatives, ABC Corporation successfully addresses the complications in its supply chain, resulting in reduced lead times, improved inventory accuracy, and enhanced customer satisfaction. The optimization of the supply chain not only restores the company's ability to meet delivery deadlines but also strengthens its competitive position in the market.


The Situation-Complication-Resolution (SCR) framework is particularly effective in persuasive communication for several reasons, each rooted in fundamental principles of narrative structure, psychological impact, and strategic clarity. Here's why SCR works well in persuading audiences, whether in business settings, presentations, or written communication:

1. Structured Narrative Flow

Clear Progression: SCR follows a logical narrative flow that mirrors storytelling structure—setting the scene (situation), introducing conflict or a turning point (complication), and resolving the conflict (resolution). This structure is inherently engaging and easy for audiences to follow, making your message more memorable.

Relatable Context: By starting with a situation, SCR grounds the audience in a familiar context, making it easier for them to understand the relevance and implications of the complication and the proposed resolution.

2. Emotional and Rational Engagement

Highlighting Conflict: The complication phase introduces a problem or challenge, which naturally engages the audience’s emotions and piques their interest. Human brains are wired to pay attention to conflict and seek resolution, making them more invested in the outcome.

Solution-Oriented: Presenting a resolution not only satisfies the audience's desire for closure but also positions the speaker or writer as a problem-solver. This solution-oriented approach appeals to the rational side of the audience, as it offers concrete steps or strategies to overcome the identified complication.

3. Credibility and Authority

Expertise and Insight: Demonstrating a clear understanding of the situation and complication, followed by a well-thought-out resolution, showcases the speaker's or writer’s expertise and insight. This builds credibility, making the audience more likely to trust and be persuaded by the proposed solutions.

Evidence-Based: The SCR framework encourages the use of data, examples, and logical reasoning, especially in the resolution phase. Presenting evidence-based solutions enhances the persuasiveness of the argument, as it relies on more than just opinions.

4. Encourages Active Problem-Solving

Engagement in Resolution: By involving the audience in the problem (through the complication) and then offering a resolution, SCR actively engages the audience in problem-solving. This participatory aspect can make the audience feel a part of the solution, increasing their commitment and persuasion.

Anticipation of Objections: The framework naturally anticipates and addresses potential objections or alternative viewpoints, especially when detailing the complication and presenting the resolution. This preemptive strategy minimizes resistance and increases persuasiveness.

5. Versatility Across Contexts

Adaptable: SCR can be adapted to various contexts, audiences, and purposes, from business presentations and proposals to educational and advocacy settings. This flexibility ensures that the message is not only persuasive but also appropriate for the context.

Focus on Action: Finally, the resolution phase of SCR typically calls for action, whether it's adopting a new strategy, changing a process, or making a decision. This action-oriented conclusion is powerful in persuasion, as it moves the audience from passive receivers of information to active participants, motivated to act based on the persuasive argument presented.

In essence, the SCR framework leverages the natural human affinity for stories, logical argumentation, and solution-focused thinking, making it a potent tool for persuasive communication. By carefully structuring information to highlight a problem and propose a viable solution, communicators can effectively engage, convince, and motivate their audiences.


McKinsey & Company leverages the Situation-Complication-Resolution (SCR) framework to streamline complex business challenges into clear, actionable insights. This methodology starts with the "Situation," establishing a common understanding of the business environment and internal dynamics. The "Complication" phase identifies key challenges or disruptions facing the organization, utilizing McKinsey to pinpoint the core issues that require strategic intervention. Finally, the "Resolution" offers innovative solutions and actionable steps tailored to address the identified problems and align with the client's strategic goals.

The SCR framework underpins McKinsey's approach to problem-solving and communication, ensuring recommendations are not only strategically sound but also presented logically and persuasively. This structured approach facilitates effective decision-making and stakeholder consensus, showcasing McKinsey's commitment to delivering value through clarity of thought and impactful recommendations.


You can follow these steps to effectively use the Situation-Complication-Resolution (SCR) framework in your business context. This approach will help you structure your thoughts, presentations, or analyses clearly and persuasively, whether addressing a problem, pitching an idea, or communicating a plan.

1. Define the Situation

Identify the Context: Start by clearly describing the current environment or context in which you operate. This could involve your market, your organization, a specific project, or any other relevant setting.

Establish the Status Quo: Explain what is currently happening or the baseline scenario. Include key facts, figures, and any relevant background information that sets the stage for your audience.

2. Highlight the Complication

Identify the Problem or Challenge: Specify the issue, challenge, or change that has arisen and is impacting the situation. This should be something that disrupts the status quo or prevents the achievement of a goal.

Understand the Impact: Discuss the implications of the complication. What are the potential or actual consequences of this problem? How does it affect the organization, project, or stakeholders?

3. Propose the Resolution

Develop Solutions: Brainstorm and propose solutions or actions to address the complication. These should be feasible and tailored to solve the problem effectively.

Analyze the Outcomes: Consider the potential outcomes of implementing your proposed solutions. How will they address the complication and improve the situation?

Plan for Implementation: Outline the steps needed to implement your solution. This may include timelines, required resources, and specific strategies or processes.


Implementing the Situation-Complication-Resolution (SCR) framework effectively requires adherence to best practices that ensure clarity, impact, and persuasiveness in your communication. Here are some key best practices to follow when using SCR, whether for presentations, reports, or strategic communications:

1. Clearly Define Each Component

Situation: Start with a concise yet comprehensive overview of the current context or baseline scenario. Ensure it's relevant and provides a solid foundation for understanding the stakes.

Complication: Clearly articulate the problem or challenge that disrupts the status quo. It should be presented as a critical issue that necessitates action, ensuring it's directly related to the situation outlined.

Resolution: Propose a logical and actionable solution, directly addressing the complication. It should be practical, based on evidence, and clearly articulated to demonstrate how it resolves the issue.

2. Use Data and Evidence

Support your analysis and recommendations with solid data, research findings, and real-world examples. This strengthens your argument and enhances the credibility of your proposed resolution.

3. Engage Your Audience

Utilize storytelling techniques to make your presentation or communication more engaging. This involves presenting facts and weaving them into a narrative that resonates with your audience's experiences, interests, and emotions.

4. Anticipate and Address Objections

Proactively think through potential objections or questions that might arise from your audience regarding the complication or the proposed resolution. Address these preemptively to strengthen your position and make your argument more persuasive.

5. Keep It Simple and Focused

Avoid overcomplicating your narrative with too many details or tangential issues. Focus on the core aspects of the situation, complication, and resolution to maintain clarity and prevent audience confusion.

6. Tailor Your Message

Adapt your SCR presentation to fit your audience's knowledge level, interests, and concerns. Customizing your message increases its relevance and impact, making it more likely to persuade.

7. Incorporate Visuals

Use charts, graphs, and other visual aids to illustrate key points, especially when dealing with complex data or needing to emphasize certain aspects of the situation or resolution.

8. Practice Delivery

Practice your delivery for oral presentations to ensure confidence and clarity. This includes not just what you say but how you say it—tone, pace, and body language can significantly impact persuasiveness.

9. Encourage Feedback and Discussion

Invite questions and feedback, especially after presenting your resolution. This fosters an interactive environment and can provide valuable insights into how your audience perceives the proposed solution.

10. Follow Up

After presenting an SCR analysis, especially in a business context, provide a clear call to action and follow up with stakeholders to gauge reaction, gather support, or initiate implementation steps.

By adhering to these best practices, you can maximize the effectiveness of the SCR framework, ensuring that your communication is not only clear and structured but also compelling and action-oriented.


The Situation-Complication-Resolution (SCR) framework is a versatile tool that you can apply across various business and leadership situations to streamline communication, enhance decision-making, and improve strategic planning. Here are some prominent use cases in these areas:

Strategic Planning and Development

 Situation: Current market position and performance metrics.

Complication: Emerging market challenges, such as new competitors, changing customer preferences, and lagging financial and operational performance. 

Resolution: Development of new strategies or products to address market shifts and capitalize on opportunities.

SCR helps articulate strategic plans by clearly outlining the context, challenges, and proposed strategic actions, making it easier for teams to align on objectives and execution plans.

Change Management

Situation: The need for organizational change due to internal or external factors.

Complication: Resistance to change or challenges in the current operational model.

Resolution: A detailed change management strategy that addresses concerns, outlines the benefits of change, and provides a clear implementation roadmap.

SCR is effective in change management by framing the need for change in a way that highlights its urgency and feasibility, facilitating stakeholder buy-in.

Problem Solving

Situation: Description of the current scenario or environment where a specific problem exists. This might involve the business's operational, financial, or strategic aspects that are not performing as expected.

Complication: Identifying the specific problem or challenge causing underperformance or dissatisfaction among stakeholders. This could include inefficiencies, product defects, customer complaints, or internal conflicts.

Resolution: The proposed solutions to address the identified problem. This involves a detailed plan that might include root cause analysis, corrective actions, resource allocation, and timelines for implementation. The resolution phase also entails monitoring and feedback mechanisms to ensure the problem is effectively resolved and to prevent recurrence.

The SCR framework aids in problem-solving by structuring complex issues into understandable components, enabling the identification of clear, actionable solutions to overcome challenges.

Product Development

Situation: Overview of the market landscape, including customer needs, existing solutions, and gaps in the market that present opportunities for innovation.

Complication: The specific need or opportunity that the new product aims to address. This could be a gap in the market, an unsolved customer pain point, or the need to improve upon existing solutions.

Resolution: Developing a new product or improving an existing product to meet the identified need. This includes the design, development, testing, and launch phases, along with strategies for market introduction, customer engagement, and feedback collection.

The SCR framework can guide product development by clearly defining the market need (Situation), identifying the specific challenge or gap in current offerings (Complication), and proposing a novel product or feature as a solution (Resolution), thereby ensuring targeted and strategic innovation.

Project Proposals and Business Cases

Situation: The business opportunity or problem that the project aims to address.

Complication: Specific challenges or gaps that the project needs to overcome.

Resolution: The proposed project plan, including objectives, benefits, resources, and timeline.

Using SCR in project proposals helps to clearly justify the need for the project, outline its benefits, and persuade stakeholders of its value.

Leadership Communication and Decision Making

Situation: The context or background relevant to a leadership decision.

Complication: The specific challenge or decision point that requires leadership action.

Resolution: The decision made, including rationale and expected outcomes.

SCR aids leaders in making and communicating decisions by providing a structured framework for presenting complex information and rationale clearly and persuasively.

Sales and Marketing Strategies

Situation: The target market or customer base and current engagement levels.

Complication: Challenges in reaching or converting the target audience, such as competitive pressures or changing consumer behaviors.

Resolution: Innovative sales or marketing strategies designed to overcome these challenges and achieve business goals.

In sales and marketing, SCR helps craft compelling pitches that clearly articulate the value proposition and differentiate solutions from competitors.

Operational Efficiency and Process Improvement

Situation: Current operational processes and performance metrics.

Complication: Inefficiencies, bottlenecks, or quality issues in the process.

Resolution: Process improvement or optimization strategies to address inefficiencies and improve performance.

SCR can guide the process improvement initiatives by framing the need for change in a way that highlights both the challenges and the actionable steps towards efficiency.

Team Building and Development

Situation: The current state of the team, including skills, dynamics, and performance.

Complication: Team performance or morale challenges, such as skill gaps or misalignment.

Resolution: Strategies for team development, including training, reorganization, or culture-building activities.

SCR facilitates clear communication around team development needs and strategies, ensuring alignment and commitment to growth initiatives.


Situation: The backdrop for the meeting, covering current operations, project updates, or any relevant events.

Complication: The reasons necessitating the meeting, such as project delays, team disagreements, or critical decisions needed.

Resolution: Steps for a productive meeting, including a pre-defined agenda, focused discussions on challenges, collaborative solutions, and a summary of outcomes and next steps.

A well-structured meeting, guided by the SCR framework, ensures focused discussions, effective problem-solving, and clear action plans, enhancing team productivity and decision-making.


Situation: Background information relevant to the email's purpose, like prior discussions, project status, or recent events.

Complication: The issue or opportunity prompting the email, whether a project hurdle, a request for feedback, or an important update.

Resolution: What the email seeks to achieve, clearly stating the action required, deadlines, and any steps toward resolving the issue or capitalizing on the opportunity.

By applying the SCR framework to emails, senders can clearly communicate the context, challenge, and required action, leading to more efficient and targeted responses.

The Situation-Complication-Resolution (SCR) framework emerges as a universally applicable tool, transcending various business and leadership contexts to foster clearer communication, strategic decision-making, and effective problem-solving. From strategic planning to operational efficiency, and from leadership communication to team development, SCR equips professionals with a structured method to dissect complexities, articulate challenges, and present actionable solutions. Its versatility and effectiveness in enhancing clarity, persuasiveness, and strategic alignment make SCR an indispensable asset in the arsenal of business leaders, strategists, and communicators aiming to navigate the multifaceted challenges of today's dynamic business environment.


The Situation-Complication-Resolution (SCR) framework is a powerful tool across various facets of business and leadership, offering a structured approach to communication, problem-solving, decision-making, all types of strategy, brainstorming, meetings, and email correspondence. By articulating the current state (Situation), identifying the challenge (Complication), and proposing a clear solution or action (Resolution), SCR transforms complex issues into manageable and actionable plans. This method enhances clarity, fosters engagement, facilitates decisive action and promotes accountability, making it an indispensable strategy for achieving effective outcomes.

Incorporating SCR into everyday business practices streamlines decision-making processes and ensures that communications are purpose-driven and results-oriented. Whether crafting persuasive emails, leading productive meetings, generating innovative solutions during brainstorming sessions, tackling complex problems, or developing groundbreaking products, the SCR framework guides teams toward clear, coherent, and collaborative action.

The true power of SCR lies in its simplicity and adaptability; it can be applied to a wide range of scenarios, from the most mundane to the most critical business situations. Mastering the SCR framework is not just an asset but a necessity for anyone looking to excel in business and leadership roles, ensuring that every challenge is met with a structured, thoughtful, and effective response.

 Learn more about Joe Newsum, the author of all this free content and a McKinsey Alum. I provide a suite of coaching and training services to realize the potential in you, your team, and your business. Learn more about me and my coaching philosophy.
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