To achieve Step 13, individuals will have to show that they can develop strategic plans to address or solve a complex problem, and then put them into action.
In the previous steps, the focus was on building the ability to create a range of solutions for complex problems, and being able to use analysis based on logical reasoning and hypotheses to work out appropriate approaches. This step builds on this by turning those insights into a strategic plan to address that issue.
The building blocks of this step are learning:
A strategic plan is a systematic approach to achieving a purpose or a goal – for instance, in addressing a complex problem. Strategic plans could be set at an organisational level, and most organisations will have a strategy that sets their direction for several years. However, strategic plans can also be more focused and targeted.
There are several elements to a strategic plan:
The starting point of a strategic plan has to be a clear statement of purpose – what is it that you are working to achieve? This might be drawn from the definition of the problem, or the part of the problem that you have decided to focus on.
This can be quite broad, but should also be tangible. For example, to become the leading hat company for teenagers, or to support individuals of all ages to build their essential skills.
This is where you draw together all of the research and analysis that you have carried out to understand the complex problem that you are looking to address. This should include:
Together, this should give you a clear rationale for your approach.
The approach you take should follow logically from the analysis of the problem that you have carried out. This is about what you will do to will address the problem.
That might include a series of different hypotheses that you are going to test to reach the optimal approach.
For instance, you might become the leading hat company for teenagers by tracking the trends that you can see through social media, copying the designs that are successful, and promoting your versions through Instagram influencers.
Resources and tasks are likely to be familiar to you from some of the earlier steps of Leadership. Having decided on a broad approach and what the goals are, it is important to get stuck into the detail of what:
In education there will be friends, teachers and tutors or mentors, you can call upon for help and guidance along the way as you seek to develop a strategic plan which can help you to work out how you might solve a complex problem. A strategic plan can help you to understand what you need to do next and help you to stay on track to meet your goal. When putting together a strategic plan you first need to be clear what it is you are wanting to achieve. You will then need to consider the steps you will take to reach that goal and be successful. You can develop a strategic plan at the start of a new course of study, or at the start of the academic term or year, or at any time when you want to be clear on your goals and the steps you need to take to get there.
The purpose of strategic planning within any business or organisation is to set overall goals and to develop a plan to achieve them. In the workplace managers will need to really dig into the detail of the plans: identifying the tasks to be completed and in what order, the resources required in terms of time and cost, and importantly who will be carrying out each task and when. Such detailed planning will influence the roles and responsibilities of everyone who works there and will need to be carried out as new projects are assigned and undertaken. In some businesses and organisations there may be someone or even a team of people who have a strategic planner role. They have the task of gathering, analysing and organising information in order to create action plans. A strategic planner has to be fully informed – they have to have access to all of the information.
We live in a complex world and therefore complex problems can surround us in all areas of our life. In order to be successful, we need to strategically plan how these problems can be tackled. A haphazard approach to complex problems rarely brings positive results. Being aware of the key elements of a strategic plan is important. Once your strategic plan is in place its then about action and actually getting on and doing it. You may have a strategic plan in place to support you in earning and saving money for a large purchase you wish to make, like a car or a house, or you may have a plan in place to help you reach your health and fitness goals or even a plan to help you rest and relax when all your work is done.
To best practise this step of Problem Solving, apply what you have learnt to a real-life situation. Choose one or more of the activities below, remind yourself of the key points and strategies in the step, and have a go!
To teach this step:
This step is not as easily reinforced as some of the others, because it is quite involved. However, it is possible to reinforce parts of it – for example, when planning experiments or investigations in science and other subject areas. Learning projects lend themselves well to reinforcing this step.
This step is best assessed through learners creating a strategic plan which can then be reviewed the teacher to ensure that it fulfils the criteria set out above. This could be complemented with a conversation with learners to check their understanding of the approach they have taken and why. It is particularly important that learners have made the link between the problem solving and analysis they have done and how this informs the approach they take to implementing a solution.
This step is relevant to individuals who need to create strategic plans to solve complex problems at work.
To build this step in the work environment, managers could:
There are plenty of opportunities for building this skill in the workplace:
For those already employed, this step is best assessed through reflective conversations with the individual whilst they are involved in developing a strategic plan. This could be one they have developed as part of a training exercise.
During the recruitment process, this step could be assessed by:
We work with a wide range of organisations, who use the Skills Builder approach in lots of different settings – from youth clubs, to STEM organisations, to careers and employability providers.
We have a lot of materials available to support you to use the Skills Builder Universal Framework with the individuals you work with, including:
We also do a lot of work with organisations who join the Skills Builder Partnership to build the Universal Framework into their work and impact measurement systems. You can find out a lot more using the links below.
At home, you can easily support your child to build their essential skills. The good news is that there
are lots of ways that you can have a big impact, including: