Problem Solving and Decision Making

A problem is anything which deviates from, or causes a deviation from, a standard of optimal performance.  Problem-analysis and decision-making are co-extensive, deliberative processes, which centre on an actor’s ability 1) to diagnose and classify problems; 2) to develop and communicate alternative, workable solutions and 3) to implement chosen corrective actions that secure or restore desired levels of efficiency and functionality.  In this highly interactive course, participants will learn the means and ends of problem-solving and decision-making through a mixture of group work, role-playing and the detailed analysis of relevant case studies.  The aim of this course is to develop the participants’ ability to identify different types of problems and to engineer and deploy problem-solving strategies that are appropriate to the particularities and organisational context of the situation.

The programme includes:

  • Problem finding and problem analysis
  • Problem-solving strategies; brainstorming, lateral thinking, divide and conquer
  • The problem-solving cycle
  • The typical barriers to problem-solving; Confirmation Bias, Groupthink and Functional Fixedness
  • The process of decision-making
  • Objectivity and rational choice theory
  • Subjectivity, bias and prejudice
  • Logical decision-making or naturalistic decision making: expertise or intuition?
  • Barriers to decision-making: Information Overload, Analysis Paralysis, Extinct by Instinct
  • Individual decision-making: satisficing or maximising?
  • Group decision-making; consensus, the Delphi method and dotmocracy
  • Learning from the past: performance review and unintended consequences
  • Preparing for the future: Simulation, Role-Playing and Problem Modelling

Participants will learn how to:

  • Diagnose and analyse inter-personal and structural problems
  • Conceptualise the causes and effects of different types of problems
  • Balance the need for analysis and the need for action
  • Decide on and deploy context-specific problem-solving strategies
  • Review past performance
  • Prevent the recurrence of old problems
  • Minimize exposure to future problems

Who should attend?

  • Team leaders
  • Managers
  • Project leaders
  • Planners
  • IT specialists
  • Medical professionals