Personal Development › Problem Solving and Decision Making Skills

Problem Solving and Decision Making Skills

Learn how to define and approach problems, create solutions and develop contingency plans

This is a sample learning overview that we can design and deliver specifically for your organisation.

We can design and deliver a programme that places an emphasis on the process of effective decision making, working with fact versus emotion, and on objectivity and responsibility. Participants will focus on thinking through the consequences of various actions, defining success, assessing risk  and contingency planning. 

We will use examples taken from current issues facing your organisation, such as product development, re-organisation, staffing, resourcing and marketing issues. 

Participants on such a programme will:

  • Learn about problem identification and definition
  • Get insight into problem analysis and confirmation of cause
  • Be able to find solutions through tools and techniques that aid creativity
  • Be able to assess their decisions and manage risk in decision making
  • Acquire decision making tools
  • Develop skills and techniques to help them overcome barriers, communicate with and engage colleagues, manage time effectively
  • Be able to implement their learning as soon as they return to the workplace
  • Leave with an individual action plan based on existing problems

View typical programme content


A typical programme may cover:

Pre-course activity, for example:

  • Define top 5 business challenges that can be referred to during the programme and used when applying the learning
  • Review past plans and decisions that could have been improved upon – consider the underlying causes of the difficulties faced
  • Complete two questionniares on Thinking styles and Social Styles

Introducing the 10-step model of’ Planning to solve a problem’ Tool – this forms the backbone of the course

  • Defining the problem or issue, causes, stakeholder needs
  • Stakeholder mapping
  • Review of social styles
  • Definition of the objectives - what would a successful outcome to the problem look like?
  • Basic questions (responsibility, authority, implications of the problem, cognitive biases etc) to refine the objectives
  • Creative thinking techniques to generate alternative planning options
  • Make a choice – compare options to objectives – choose the best fit
  • Risk analysis and mitigation plans
  • Recommendations (review back to stakeholders’ needs and ensure communication is appropriate)
  • Implementation plans

Defining the problem

  • How do you know you have a problem?
  • Consider the bigger picture – what is the problem, why is it happening, when does it occur etc
  • What is causing the problem? is it a presenting problem or are there  root causes? 
  • What type of problem is it?  Information, selection, creative, people, resources, materials, 
  • Are there any constraints around time and resources in solving the problem
  • What other factors apply here? (market, personal experience, megatrends, culture, sustainability?)
  • Stakeholder mapping
  • Using the 3Rs tool: Roles, the Recommendation and Resources
  • Roles:  to identify who should be involved/consulted/communicated with in the process
  • Preparing personal stakeholder maps and challenging each other’s ideas

Personal social styles

  • Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of different personal and social style
  • Reviewing your own questionnaire results, understanding your profile
  • How best to manage different stakeholders depending on their preferred style
  • Referring to your own situations – consider how to modify own behaviours to best manage your stakeholders’ expectations and involvement

Defining your Objective using careful questions

  • Given your problem, the context and the stakeholders, what will your objective(s) be for a successful outcome to the problem you face?
  • Exercise in pairs to establish what the essential and desirable objectives are, using good questioning techniques. How do you weight the objectives?
  • Clarifying your SMART objective in writing

Generating alternative solutions

  • Creative thinking tools and techniques to explore and generate alternative options
  • Practical activity to apply techniques
  • Making a choice
  • Methods of evaluating pros and cons of each option
  • Using a rating or scoring system
  • Thinking through the likely and less likely consequences of each option
  • Assessing likely levels of support for each approach
  • What are the  strengths of each approach?

Risk analysis and mitigation plans

  • Consider the risks with each option; what could possibly go wrong?
  • Associates consequences of the risks occurring
  • How you might mitigate these risks

Making your SMART recommendation

  • Make it specific, complete and positioned within the relevant context
  • Make it measurable and motivating
  • Who carries out what actions, how will these be articulated?
  • Is the recommendation relevant and reflective of the wider context of the business?
  • What are the timeframes?
  • Who decides?

Communicating your implementation plan

  • Putting the brief together and articulating what is required (who, what, why, when, how)
  • Inspiring the project
  • Project management processes you might apply
  • Reviewing implementation progress
  • Re-evaluation and assessment of the decision – what went well or could be done better?

Application planning
Participants finalise their plan for what they need to do back at work to progress the problem-solving issue they brought with them to the programme.



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