Understanding and Solving Complex Business Problems

A CBS Executive Education Masterclass

Team pointing at notes on a clear board

Houston, we have a problem!

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. We only need to look at the current situation with COVID-19 to see how economic, health and social issues interact.

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
  • A dynamic environment
  • No single right answer
  • High stakes and big consequences
  • Stakeholder-rich environments
  • Accessing the right people

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

If you are interested in attending future sessions, please submit an expression of interest to our team.

This is a series of online masterclasses run on Thursday mornings over three weeks.

Dates: 2, 9 July and 16 July

Time: 10.30am – 12pm AWST

Where: Delivered online


Early-bird registration (pay by 11 June): $459

General: $529

Curtin alumni, current students and staff: $479

Group registration (five or more): $429 per person

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 as well as assisting with the identification and assessment of sustainable options
  • An opportunity to work on a current personal/organisational complex problem
  • An appreciation of the value and challenges ensuring a viable resolution to a 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

SessionDate and TimeTitleFacilitator
Session 1Thursday 2 July
10.30am-12pm AWST
Unpacking complex uncertain wicked problemsProfessor Fran Ackermann
Session 2Thursday 9 July
10.30am-12pm AWST
Systems Thinking’s contribution to managing complex problemsProfessor Fran Ackermann
Session 3Thursday 16 July
10.30am-12pm AWST
Taking a sustainable approach to resolving complex problemsProfessor Fran Ackermann


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

Please ensure you have good quality internet connection for a positive experience.

Express your interest

If you are interested in attending future sessions, please submit an expression of interest to our team.