Problem Formulation

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1 day 

Delivery mode

Face-to-face and online



Standard price


Accelerate your career, learn new skills, and expand your knowledge.

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Albert Einstein once said, ‘If I had only one hour to save the world, I would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem, and only five minutes finding the solution’. This highlights the critical importance of deep understanding and proper problem formulation in effective problem solving. Attempting to solve a problem without well-formulating it often leads to failure or short-term solutions with future consequences. This challenge becomes more significant with complex issues involving multiple actors and vast amount of information, typical in the digital and big data era we currently live in. This course is design to enhance the problem-solving capabilities of individuals, teams, and organizations, which is crucial for success. Participants will learn about various types of problems, essential elements of effective problem formulation, common biases and errors, and methods to validate problem formulations. Additionally, the course includes practical strategies and tools for asking the right questions and focusing on the root cause of problems.

No prior knowledge is required. This course is suitable for all backgrounds, providing foundational skills in problem formulation.

Course content

  • Significance of problem formulation.
  • Understanding different problem types.
  • Methods and techniques for effective problem formulation.
  • Visual and written problem representation.
  • Identifying common cognitive biases and heuristics.
  • Strategies to mitigate biases and heuristics.
  • Data evaluation and collection methods.
  • Techniques for identifying and testing assumptions.
  • Elements of precise problem statement.
  • Writing and refining problem statements

Learning outcomes

Upon completing this course, participants will be able to:

 - Recognize the distinct characteristics of various problem types, differentiating between simple, complicated, and complex problems.

 - Apply diverse methods and techniques to effectively articulate and represent different types of problems.

 - Identify and address cognitive biases that impact accurate problem identification and formulation.

 - Assess and prioritize data sources to gather the most relevant information.

 - Test and validate problem formulations and their underlying assumptions.

 - Write precise and clear problem statements.

Who should attend

This course is designed for professionals across various fields who wish to enhance their problem-solving skills. Effective problem formulation is crucial for making informed decisions and driving successful outcomes. Ideal for analysts, decision-makers, consultants, and anyone involved in addressing complex issues in their work.


Ebrahim Aly, PhD

Research Associate | Capability Systems Centre | UNSW Canberra

Dr. Ebrahim Aly, a research associate at the Capability Systems Centre – UNSW Canberra, specializes in complex systems modeling and developing decision support systems. His research focuses on the resilience and sustainability of socio-technical systems, utilizing a wide range of computational and analytical techniques. Ebrahim applies is knowledge to nurture the development of crucial thinking techniques and modeling skills in professionals, such critical thinking and systems thinking. He combines theoretical knowledge with practical applications, helping professionals address complex problems effectively. Through his expertise, Dr. Aly work highlights how the tools and methods of complex systems modeling can be leveraged to empower professionals to navigate and shape their fields with greater acuity.

Cancellation policy

Courses will be held subject to sufficient registrations. UNSW Canberra reserves the right to cancel a course up to five working days prior to commencement of the course. If a course is cancelled, you will have the opportunity to transfer your registration or be issued a full refund. If registrant cancels within 10 days of course commencement, a 50% registration fee will apply. UNSW Canberra is a registered ACT provider under ESOS Act 2000-CRICOS provider Code 00098G.