To achieve Step 8, individuals will show that they can understand that complex problems often have causes and effects.
Earlier, in Steps 6 and 7, individuals have been exploring complex problems by being able to recognise them and then carry out appropriate research to understand them better. This step builds on this by breaking down complex problems into causes and effects.
The building blocks of this step are learning:
To teach this step:
This is a step which can be usefully introduced in many different aspects of learning. For example, when talking about scientific concepts, a series of events in literature, or historical or geographical phenomena. Learners can map out what the different causes and effects are around these.
This step is best assessed through a structured assessment. For example:
This step is relevant to individuals whose work frequently exposes them to complex problems.
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 questioning.
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.
Within education you may face a number of complex problems ranging from what courses or topics to study, where to study or what to do next. In the first instance, it is useful to think about the causes and effects of these problems. For example, you might be trying to decide whether to study in your home country or abroad. This might be caused by a number of factors such as better courses overseas but a worry you will miss relatives and friends. Effects could range from gaining a good qualification from a highly regarded institution but you may not enjoy the experience of living in a different place. Seeking to understand more about the causes and effects of a problem is important in education so you can best help yourself when solving a problem or know when to seek more support if needed.
In the workplace, it is important to think carefully about the causes and effects of a problem. Whether the organisation is big or small, decisions can affect many people and their daily responsibilities. When working in customer-facing roles, you might be asked to solve complex problems about the public’s experience of using your business such as why sales and profit is lower than usual. If you were to use the first or cheapest solution, you may not resolve the problem and there may be further negative outcomes for the business. This might reflect badly on yourself or your team. By fully exploring the causes and effects of a problem in the workplace, you might see a number of positive outcomes for you, your colleagues and the wider organisation.
When making significant decisions in your personal life,analysing the causes and effects can help you to find a suitable solution. Examples might include looking to move abroad, improve the environment or look at ways to tackle social issues in your local area. These problems require significant consideration and exploring the causes and effects is a useful starting point. Some of these may join together and coming up with solutions might solve multiple aspects of the problem.
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.