The coastal zone is attractive for human settlement because it tends to be resource rich, providing a good location to generate incomes and livelihoods. Equally, however, it is a complex and powerful natural environment, which means that the coastal zone often becomes a focus of conflict with multiple users competing for limited space and resources. Understanding the causes of, and determining solutions to, the ensuing problems requires inputs from a range of analyses across sectors and disciplines. However, different disciplinary and sectoral approaches frequently use different investigative methods, language, and means of presenting results. This article presents a framework that has been developed in collaboration with Indian institutions over the past three years in an effort to address some of these fundamental problems of analysis and translation into policy action. Key components addressed by the framework are strengthening the capacity to practice, knowing how to proceed and how to find out what needs to be known using experience-based problem solving.