Course Outcomes

This problem-solving and decision-making course will:

  • Explore how problem solving and decision making interrelate.
  • Introduce a range of problem-solving and decision-making tools.
  • Offer techniques for methodically evaluating choices.
  • Outline common decision-making traps and how to avoid them.

Course Overview

“I should have realized we were solving the wrong problem.”  “That was not a good choice.  We should have seen it coming.”  “We keep looking at the issues the same way, and we’re stagnant.  It’s so discouraging.”  Sound familiar?  In the workplace, solving problems and making decisions can be difficult, especially when one is faced with complex problems.  Luckily, navigating a challenging issue is considerably easier when you have some fundamental tools at your disposal.  This hands-on decision-making workshop covers essential skills needed to define problems, generate solutions, and evaluate alternatives.

Program Objectives

At this program’s conclusion, participants should be able to:

  • Define a problem.
  • Distinguish root causes from symptoms.
  • Explain a problem-solving model.
  • Outline various ways decisions can be made.
  • Use several problem-solving and decision-making tools.
  • Methodically evaluate options.
  • Avoid common decision-making pitfalls.

The following outline highlights some of the course’s key learning points. As part of your training program, we will modify content as needed to meet your business objectives. Upon request, we will provide you with a copy of the participant materials prior to the session(s).

Workshop Outline

What’s Your Problem?: Defining Decision Making

In this opening discussion, participants will define decision making and how it differs from problem solving. Next, the group will explore six types of decisions made in most organizations. During this activity, participants will identify the types of choices they find to be easy as well as those that are more difficult to make. Following that exercise, we will look at three ways a problem can be classified and three possible approaches to addressing a challenge.

What’s the Path?: A Problem-Solving Model

During this part of the program, participants will outline a model for problem solving within their organization. Then, they will explore a three-phase framework that can be applied to most problems. To solidify their understanding of the process, group members will take part in an earthquake simulation where they will rank possible actions and choices they could make. 

Who Decides: Available Options

Maybe a decision is made by one person, perhaps many voices share in the process, or it’s possible that the entire process has been outsourced to someone else to decide. The fact is, there are many ways in which decisions get made. This part of the course looks at various options and the pluses and minuses of each choice. Once participants understand the ways in which choices get made, they will evaluate a series of case studies and discuss which option makes the most sense for each scenario.


Nice Toolbox!: A Problem-Solving Kit

This workshop segment looks at 12 tools for better understanding problems. During this part of the program, we will consider such methods as the lasso, is/is not, five Ws and an H, force field analysis, and others. Participants will have an opportunity to practice the tools using workplace problems or stock examples if for some reason relevant scenarios can’t be shared.

Spin to Win: The Decision-Making Wheel

This course component introduces a decision-making wheel. The wheel features questions participants should ask before arriving at a choice. For example, which options align with my values/the organization’s values, how will people feel about the available solutions? who can help implement each option? and so forth. Following an explanation of the tool, participants will have an opportunity to try it using a real-world example.

Evaluating Options: A Methodical Approach

In this workshop segment, we will look at a range of decision-making tools: a simple decision matrix, a weighted decision matrix, T charts, decision trees, multi-voting systems, and a cost-benefit analysis. Participants will have an opportunity to try their hand at each. Next, they will determine the kinds of decisions for which each method would be appropriate.

Sand Traps and Land Mines: Avoiding Common Mistakes

This course concludes with an exploration of more than 25 common decision-making errors. Working in teams, participants will consider each mistake and craft an appropriate solution for addressing or avoiding the problem.  

At the program’s completion, participants will have an understanding of basic problem solving and the tools available to them for making better decisions.