Skip to 0 minutes and 12 secondsWe face problems every day, and they come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes.

Skip to 0 minutes and 21 secondsSome are mildly frustrating, others utterly devastating. Some might affect us individually, whereas others may affect entire communities, regions, countries or even the entire globe and all its inhabitants, not just humans. Similarly, some of these are easy to address, some are more difficult and some are downright impossible. Some problems are predictable, others less so. Some problems are unintended, whereas others are, for whatever reason, intended. Technology may cause some problems and alleviate others. Some affect society, some are caused by society. Some are within our direct control, others seem to have a mind of their own. Some are driven by facts, others by values or beliefs. Some problems will even affect different people, different races and different sexes differently.

Skip to 1 minute and 16 secondsThe sources of the problems are also diverse. Some are natural, some are caused by our actions on our environment and others. Some are local, others may affect us despite being very far away. Some problems may even come from our past. And we are fairly confident that we will face many, many more problems in the future. However, if humans are good at one thing, it is tackling problems and grasping opportunities. When confronted with big problems, it's easy to only see the negatives, to feel overwhelmed and do nothing. Often, these problems can feel too complex, too confusing and too big to do anything about. But if you don't do anything, you won't achieve anything.

Skip to 2 minutes and 1 secondProblems provide opportunities and motivation to make a difference. With the right approach and the appropriate resources we can all work together towards making the world a much better place for everyone. Even the smallest actions can collectively lead to the biggest changes. This week, we'll get to grips with problems, looking at some of the techniques and tools to explore and understand problems, so you are better equipped to do something about them. And don't worry about failure, sure you might not initially succeed but you only ever fail when you give up trying, or never try to begin with. The important thing to do is to start doing something and see where it takes you. You may even surprise yourself.

Introduction: managing problems

This week will be looking at problems, but what are ‘problems’ and how can we start to work with them?

In whatever way you are taking notes during this course – either in a journal, on your computer or in the comments section – jot down some initial reactions to the following questions, which will all be developed further during this week:

  • What problems, big or small, do you face in your life at the moment?

  • What problems do you think we face as communities, nations, or globally?

  • What might the danger be in not understanding a problem before starting to work on a solution?

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This video is from the free online course:

Unleash Your Potential: Innovation and Enterprise

University of Bristol