Understanding and Solving Complex Business Problems

Part of the CBS Executive Education Masterclass Series

Houston, we have a problem!

Team pointing at notes on a clear board

We are living in an era of unprecedented complexity and interconnectedness. Some decisions we make might be so routine that we may make them without giving them much thought, but challenging or complex decisions demand much more consideration.

It takes practice to recognise complex systems, and the challenges that come with embracing the unknown and facing novel situations that have many variables, with no one “right” answer. These are volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) environments, and they present unique challenges and opportunities for professionals and their teams.

How do you make effective decisions amidst:

  • Multiple and, at times, competing factors in play
  • Gaps in information or data
  • New situations
  • No single “right” answer
  • High stakes and big consequences
  • Stakeholder-rich environments

Don’t despair – our masterclass in Understanding and Solving Complex Business Problems will provide evidence-based approaches to clearly identify the problem at hand and help participants apply effective decision making in VUCA environments.

Program details

Date: Thursday 1 August 2019 (This program has now concluded. If you are interested in attending future sessions, please submit an expression of interest to our team.)

Time: 9am – 4.30pm

Where: Curtin 137 St Georges Terrace, Perth (map)

Curtin Alumni / current students: $479
General: $529

Inclusive of a delicious morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea.

Key takeaways

This masterclass aims to provide participants with:

  • A better understanding of the forms of complexity and some methods for managing them
  • An appreciation of how complex problems differ from difficult problems and some approaches specifically designed to address these ‘messy, wicked’ problems
  • An understanding and’ hands on’ experience of an approach which takes a systems thinking perspective and thus allows for deeper and holistic understanding of the situation along with assisting with the identification and assessment of options
  • An opportunity to work on a current complex problem

Who is the program for?

This program is designed for those in public, not-for-profit and private organisations who have decision-making responsibility and who are looking for fresh ideas to resolve organisational problems. You might be in project management, a COO, operations, marketing, innovation, strategy, product development, CEO, MD or a Board Member. This program provides participants with tools and techniques that are easily adopted and implemented into organisational practice.

Program schedule

9:00am – 10:30amUnderstanding forms of complexity – what makes your problem complex?

Methods for dealing with complexity
10:30am – 11:00am Morning tea
11:00am – 12:30pmComplex problems versus difficult problems – is there a right answer?

Exploring problem structuring methods
12:30pm – 1:15pmLunch
1:15pm – 2:45pmTaking a Systems Thinking Approach – using a mapping technique to manage complexity rather than reduce it
(Note: This section of the Masterclass will provide participants with the opportunity to use the technique on a complex problem)
2:45pm – 3:00pmAfternoon tea
3:00pm – 4:30pmUnderstanding dynamics and counter intuitive outcomes

A brief consideration of ‘why decisions fail’


Recommended reading

  • Why Decisions Fail. Paul Nutt (2002). San Francisco CA, Barrett-Koehler
  • ‘What’s the problem? An introduction to problem structuring methods’. Jonathan Rosenhead (1996). Interfaces, 26 (6) 117-131

Express your interest

This program has now concluded. If you are interested in attending future sessions, please submit an expression of interest to our team.