Executive and Professional Development

Critical Thinking and Strategic Problem Solving

Tackle everyday business challenges, critically analyze problems and generate breakthrough solutions to the toughest organizational issues.

Organizational success rests in the hands of executives who possess superior problem solving skills. Successful business leaders are trained to examine problems and opportunities critically, and implement solutions to respond to competition and improve performance in their organization.

This course provides intuitive tools that enable executives to rapidly cut to the heart of strategic and organizational challenges, focusing on areas that have the greatest impact on performance. Participants will learn a step-by-step process for diagnosing business issues, generating options and implementing innovative solutions. 

Participants will receive a copy of Alex Lowy's best-selling business book No Problem.

PRE-SEMINAR PREPARATION: Prior to the course you will receive some readings and a letter from your instructor. We ask that you read the material and come prepared to discuss it.

Receive 14 PDUs towards your PMI® Continuing Certification Requirements.

DATES - 2 Day Seminar

May 9 - 10, 2018

 $1,275 + HST
Facilitator: Alex Lowy, BA, MES
Location: Saint Mary's University at the World Trade Centre, 8th Floor, 1800 Argyle Street


Program Content

Understanding the Problem Solving Hierarchy

  • A senior executive’s blueprint
  • Examining the universe of business problems
  • The three basic levels of business challenge: making decisions, solving problems and managing dilemmas
  • The ‘decisions to dilemmas model’ as a form of problem-solving triage

Making Effective Strategic Business Decisions

  • The three main barriers to strategic problem solving: Faulty definition, Wrong level of complexity and Negative bias
  • Identifying available options
  • Establishing useful time frames
  • Gathering and evaluating decision criteria
  • Following a structured decision process

Structured Problem Solving Techniques for Leaders

  • Solving problems that can be solved
  • Defining your problem to ensure resolution
  • Identifying barriers that prevent successful outcome
  • How serious is the problem – what level of repair is needed?
  • Using rational analysis tools to problem solve
  • The art of creative envisioning to address underlying issues

Managing Dilemmas: When Problems Can't Be Solved

  • How do you solve important, highly complex challenges?
  • Understanding the context surrounding a strategic dilemma
  • Solving personal dilemmas vs. organizational dilemmas
  • Using the 5-step Dialectical Solutions Method (DSM) to solve dilemmas:
    • Step 1: Issues and Challenges
    • Step 2: Core Dilemma Definition
    • Step 3: Strategic Modeling and Analysis
    • Step 4: Gap Analysis
    • Step 5: Resolution Planning
  • Practising the DSM model on a current issue

Critical Thinking Skills

  • How to effectively frame, explore and reframe strategic issues
  • Responding effectively to competitive change
  • Evaluating solutions
  • Identifying market opportunities
  • Implementing, monitoring and adjusting your solutions

Overcoming Organizational Barriers to Success

  • Eight archetypical dilemmas facing leaders
  • The core dilemma
  • Applying the DSM model to your business
  • Navigating internal roadblocks that derail great solutions
  • Project management techniques to keep initiatives on track

What You Will Learn

  • Learn a professional problem solving methodology which allows you to creatively manage strategic dilemmas and solve business problems
  • Prioritize problems and establish practical and achievable action plans
  • Apply new critical thinking approaches and overcome the three barriers to strategic problem solving
  • Train others – effectively direct project team members to think critically and deploy strategic solutions
  • Learn to clearly define and frame organizational problems requiring solutions
  • Use the Dialectical Solutions Method™ (DSM) to manage highly complex strategic challenges in your organization
  • Engage key stakeholders and team members

Who Should Attend?

You will benefit from this seminar if you:

  • are a senior manager, VP or director
  • are a corporate-level manager from any department
  • are an operations or administrative officer
  • are a project manager who must solve complex projects
  • are a sales and marketing team member who must respond to new competitive threats

YorkImageThis program is delivered in partnership with Schulich Executive Education Centre at York University.