• How to benefit from structured thinking: solution of complex or vague problems; focus of effort; allocating work; and communicating reasoning
  • Tools for structured thinking (clustering, logic trees, hypotheses) and the role of each in the problem solving process
  • Using clustering for early clarification of problems
  • Using logic trees and problem hierarchies for further clarification
  • Introduction to different forms of reasoning: inductive and deductive logic
  • Heuristics to test completeness of thinking: MECE, and its limitations
  • Different ways of breaking down problems: numerical, issue, and process structures
  • Using structured thinking to generate a problem solving scope or proposal
  • Problem framing to agree context and priorities
  • Using hypotheses to resolve problems and draw robust conclusions
  • How best to use hypotheses to focus effort, increase problem solving rigour, allocate work, communicate progress and conclusions
  • Using key tools to generate and test hypotheses: analytical hierarchies, and MECE testing; inductive and deductive reasoning; and, testing key factual assumptions
  • Scientific method and the importance of challenging and changing hypotheses
  • Using hypotheses in work planning
  • Typical problem solving frameworks and their limitations, including practice in using some common tools
  • Important dos and don’ts in hypothesis development and testing
  • Using hypotheses to solve a vague and complex business case
3. 80:20
  • Common examples of 80:20
  • Using 80:20 to prioritise effort, allocate work, raise quality and communicate more effectively
  • Recognising and averting dangers associated with 80:20
  • Specific applications of 80:20 in problem solving: simplifying hypotheses; prioritising analysis; and communicating results
  • Practising using 80:20 communication in short, important meetings
  • Preparing for brief, targeted presentations
  • Key components of well structured presentations
  • Creating summaries and setting objectives
  • Designing and laying out a clear argument or story line
  • Synthesising relevant insights
  • Designing clear slides and graphics, and creating blank slides to visualise and allocate work
  • Minimising redundancy and focusing on germane issues
  • Communicating succinct conclusions and next steps
  • Practising developing a short presentation to convey critical and complex information


The course is very interactive. We introduce a small number of tools and concepts, but emphasise practising how to apply problem–solving skills to a series of typical situations.

Participants spend most of the course working in small groups on a series of progressively difficult exercises.

We prompt participants to relate the skills they are learning to their own business and role. Participants leave the course with a mindset, practice and experience in problem-solving and analytical presentation skills that they can apply immediately.


Given the importance of problem solving and clear communication in all organisational roles, the course is suitable for anyone.

It is particularly suitable for those who work on a project basis (creative teams, planners and account managers, graduates), or who have responsibility for solving problems and drawing clear structured conclusions from disparate information.


The course is conducted as classroom training.

The classroom course lasts 2 days, and works well with between 4 and 20 participants.

Next open course is at Bisham Abbey, Marlow on the 14th and 15th of September.
£550 per head.