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This content is taken from the University of Leeds & Institute of Coding's online course, Decision Making: How to Choose the Right Problem to Solve. Join the course to learn more.

Introduce yourself

Spending a course thinking about problems can seem a bit negative. After all, problems mean something may be wrong, that bad things may happen, that there’s a threat to the status quo or that things might get difficult.

But, there is a bit of wisdom that says that instead of dwelling on problems, you can reframe them as opportunities to find good solutions.

Reframing the way we think about problems can allow us to see them as interesting challenges, or invitations to change something for the better. More importantly, thinking about a problem in creative ways, redefining them, looking for root causes and novel approaches to solutions is at the heart of being good at solving problems.

Transferable skills are abilities, aptitude and knowledge that you’ve gained through experience, which you can apply in many different roles or situations. These skills are useful across many different jobs, and even different industries. The ability to solve problems is an example of a transferable skill that can make you really attractive to employers.

You could think of this course as an opportunity to become more employable.

What will I learn on this course?

In this course you will look at a simple process for discovering, analysing and solving problems which you can apply in many different situations in both your personal and professional life.

You will hear from professionals who find and solve problems of all kinds in their day to day work, and find out what kind of problems the techniques they use regularly can help you solve. You will practise techniques for uncovering problems, prioritising possible solutions and making sure the problems you’re trying to solve are not just the symptoms of a deeper underlying issue.

You will explore the idea of risk and discover how thinking about what might go wrong helps you avoid problems. You will also explore the idea that solutions can have unexpected outcomes, the effects of which might actually be felt in wider society or the environment.

The course will take you through the activities needed to define and scope a successful project, and you’ll get the chance to create a simple proposal document using a template that will help you structure the way you think about your project, and cover activities you’d need to think about in a professional situation.

Throughout the course we’ll look at how you can apply problem-solving tools at work through our main case study, Shona. She might not be real, but her situation is based on a real working person encountering problems from a real organisation. The case study will let you investigate how simple techniques from an entrepreneur’s strategic toolkit can help you think through problems, find the best solutions, and help you convince others to let you put your ideas in motion.

Who will support your learning?

You’ll be guided through your learning by a team of design experts, including:

Kim Plowright

Kim Plowright is a creative producer, product manager and consultant with two decades of experience designing and delivering high profile, user-focused immersive and digital projects. She enjoys problem solving and would probably describe what she does as ‘verbing’ things - working out what an experience, an audience and the team making a project should actually do.

image of Kim Plowright

Ryzard Akita

Ryzard has been freelancing for a decade now. In that time he’s had the pleasure to work with and for various start-ups, digital agencies, senior designers and developers. He loves the process of product design, and appreciates the different applications of digital design.

image of Ryzard Akita

You can find out more about them from their profile page on FutureLearn, and choose to follow them to keep up to date with their responses and advice on the course.

Over to you:

Before we start solving problems together, why not take some time to introduce yourself to one another?

If you’d like, use the Comments section to tell us more about yourself, where you are from, and why you have chosen to join this course. We’d advise you not to share personal details, such as your email address, personal address or phone number. You can also like comments, and choose to follow other learners.

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This article is from the free online course:

Decision Making: How to Choose the Right Problem to Solve

University of Leeds