To achieve Step 15, individuals will show that they can implement strategic plans, track progress, and draw out learning to refine those plans over time.
In the previous steps, the focus was on how to develop strategic plans to solve complex problems and then to assess whether those plans have been successful. This final step of Problem Solving looks at how we can learn through our strategic plans, to make us better at solving that complex problem.
The building blocks of this step are learning:
To teach this step:
This step is best reinforced through reflection on an on-going project. Similarly, during wider subject learning, the teacher can flag when they have gained valuable insights.
This step is best assessed by asking learners to reflect, either in written form or through conversation with the teacher. The reflection should address the operational challenges, impact challenges, identifying unexpected secondary effects, and testing hypotheses.
This step is relevant to individuals who create and implement strategic plans to solve complex problems at work. To build this step in the work environment, managers could:
This is an advanced skill step, which will take time to master. The individual can develop this skill step through:
For those already employed, this step is best assessed through a reflective conversation with the individual:
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.
As you work on a complex problem, following your strategic plan, you may find extra challenges present themselves which you could not have predicted. For example you may be studying hard to get good grades in final exams and due to being unwell, miss a number of lessons and the introduction of some new learning or important information. In such a situation, it is important to not panic but rather calmly amend your plans to tackle the new problem of missed learning. That way you can still reach your end goal. If the extra challenges are not tackled and plans are not changed you are less likely to be successful in reaching your end goal. This would be frustrating and disappointing. You may, for example need to ask the teacher or lecturer to provide some extra support by way of a catch up lesson, or to share some online materials to support you to access the missed lessons content or for you to attend an extra tutor group for revision. By taking action early on and refining your plans you are more likely to succeed.
There may be times at work when a plan needs to change as you focus on a particular project or work stream. A business may not have been able to get all of the resources that they needed for a particular product, or perhaps a delay in receiving a particular component or even a piece of information has slowed work. This can be frustrating. By reviewing progress regularly against milestones will help issues, be they operational or impact challenges, be identified early on. Changes can then be made and learning taken from the situation. This could potentially save the business time and money,and ensure the business is still on target to meet their end goal.
Complex problems do not have a simple ‘best’ answer. Sometimes as you solve one part of the problem, it causes a problem elsewhere. These secondary effects are often unpredictable and appear as out of nowhere. By checking in regularly and reviewing how a plan is going you may be able to spot potential secondary effects and deal with them before they become too big a problem. You may also be able to test different hypotheses as your strategic plan progresses and take learnings from these to develop it further.
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!
As a parent or carer, you might be thinking about how best to support your children to build their essential skills. The good news is that there is lots that you can do that will have a big impact, including:
We’ve developed a whole series of tools and resources to help parents to build these skills, including:
There is also content for older children and young people, including short activities and reflections that they can complete alone, or with you.