To achieve Step 6, individuals will be able to identify complex problems, which are those without simple technical solutions.
In the first steps of Problem Solving (Steps 0-3) the focus was on simple problems – those with a simple correct answer and completing those by following instructions, finding someone to help, seeking advice or finding the additional information themselves. The next steps (Steps 4-5) focus on complicated problems – those where there is a technical solution, but there might be a range of options which have to be considered in turn.
This step introduces complex problems – those without a ‘correct answer’.
The building blocks of this step are learning:
To teach this step:
This is a step that can be reinforced through the prism of building subject knowledge. Learners could look at a subject area through the lens of a particular complex problem, and use their learning as a way to answer that question. This idea is explored more in the next step.
This step is best assessed through an activity. For example:
This step will be relevant to those individuals involved in solving complex problems through their 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 observation. For instance:
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 well as simple and complicated problems, you may come across complex problems. The correct or best answer to a complex problem depends on many different things. It is a very challenging type of problem as we may not know some of these things we would like to in order to solve the problem (perhaps because they depend on what will happen in the future). This could include making important decisions about which subjects or courses you want to take in the future. Even when we have done lots of work on this type of problem, we might not know if we have come up with the best answer. This can make it very tricky but everyone will feel similar when dealing with complex problems.
Complex problems, such as how can we make a business more successful, do not have easy answers. Managers may disagree on the best course of action to take to make improvements to their products or services. Coming up with plans may take a great deal of time and effort as employees look to find as much information as they can to help their business move forward. In larger organisations someone, or a team of people, may have the responsibility for searching for the information to help create solutions to the complex problems the organisation faces.
Complex problems are very difficult to solve when they crop up. Having the desire to get as close to solving them as you can though is a good first step. Being keen and eager to search out as much of the information as you can to help you create possible solutions will be beneficial. You might be looking to start a community group or exploring ways you could improve the environment in your local area. Give yourself time to fully understand the problem. Then by breaking it down as best you can in to smaller more manageable chunks is advisable to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
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.