To achieve Step 9, individuals will show that they can approach complex problems by creating a range of possible options.
In earlier steps, individuals showed that they could identify and explore complex problems through research and looking at causes and effects. This step builds on this by extending this into creating options for addressing complex problems.
The building blocks of this step are learning:
To teach this step:
This step lends itself to reinforcement in some aspects of broader learning – for example, when discussing more complex phenomena. The complex problem that learners are investigating could also be related to subject matter – whether in religious education, influences on an artist, or understanding a natural phenomenon.
This step is best assessed through an assessed activity. For example:
This step is relevant to individuals who handle 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 a practical exercise. 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.
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. You may have to do a number of different things to get anywhere close to coming up with an answer to the problem. It is important, when learning new things to have a ‘can do’ attitude, of trying to create lots of possible solutions and not just settling for the first, quickest idea you came up with. By coming up with a range of options (10 to 15 is a good target) you give yourself the best opportunity to pick the one most suitable for your needs. It might also be helpful to discuss these with teachers, peers, tutors, coaches or others as they may be able to provide additional advice to you.
Complex problems are not uncommon in the workplace. It might involve deciding on the cost of a service, how to structure a team, how to engage with more customers or the best way to create a product. Employees could be given the task of coming up with a range of possible options to solve a problem they have. Once a range of options have been noted, the organisation may ask those individuals to look at how feasible different options. It will be important to consider key questions such as: Does the solution have the potential to answer part of the complex problem we have explored? Thinking about the causes and effects, would the solution have further effects that might be problematic? If relevant, would the cost of putting the solution into practise be far too high? When thinking about these questions, you will have to keep in mind what is important to the company when considering the range of solutions.
In the wider world, we can benefit from coming up with a range of options when faced with challenging, complex problems. Often the more ideas we generate, the clearer view we have on finding the right solution to the problem. You might be part of a community group exploring ways to reduce pollution and littering in your local area. This is a complex problem with multiple causes and effects. By breaking down the problem perhaps working individually or with others, you can create a range of ideas which could tackle the issue. This process can benefit you in many areas of life where you might face complex difficulties.
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.