Welcome University of Sydney students and staff to the early release of our online short course!  It’s in beta right now and you will see updates week-by-week.

complex challenges

A short course in complex problem-solving, strategy & design

00:00 / 00:00

    40 Lessons

    Each lesson contains a mix of a multimedia video (5-29 mins), case studies, examples, quiz, guidance for activity-based learning, downloadable worksheets and references

    For Everyone

    Enrol yourself, your team or your organisation. Relevant and valuable for everyone from students to senior decision-makers. No prerequisite knowledge needed

    On demand

    Learn when it suits you, at your own pace. Re-visit content as many times as you like. Subscription provides one year access which can be renewed. On completion, receive a Certificate

    OECD, The Nature of Problem Solving
    ..the world no longer rewards people just for what they know...but for what they can do with what they know. Problem solving is at the heart of this. ...The skills considered most essential in our modern societies are often called 21st-century skills. Problem solving is clearly one of them.

    Why we developed this course

    The 21st Century is throwing us many challenges, both entrenched problems and exciting opportunities. But these challenges are increasingly complex and our traditional methods of problem-solving are no longer adequate.

    That’s why the World Economic Forum and the OECD have cited complex problem solving as the most important skill we need this century. However, it is a relatively new concept and (until now) there has not been much around on what it entails and how to do it.

    We believe there is a huge opportunity to make more progress with the challenges of the 21st Century, by making complex problem solving skills more accessible, tangible, systematic and practical.

    We think complex problem solving skills are essential, life-long skills for pretty much everyone, from students and the most junior analysts, to our most senior decision-makers across academia, public, private, and NGO sectors.

    Why take the course...

    Learn valuable lifelong skills

    ..that you can take with you anywhere and apply to complex challenges of any nature, including public policy, organisational, business and societal challenges. You will learn what complex problem solving means and practical techniques for doing it.

    Improve how you think

    Complex problem solving embeds higher-order thinking skills including strategic thinking, critical thinking, creative thinking, analytical thinking, systems thinking, design thinking, structured thinking and futures thinking.

    Have impact

    The real benefit for individuals and teams is that these skills are an enabler – they help people to have more impact, more efficiently. Instead of ‘muddling through’ and wasting time and money, work is productive. The process is more rigorous and the outcomes are better.

    Be inspired

    Throughout this course you’ll explore some of the most interesting and valuable ways of thinking about the world that we’ve compiled from many different sectors and disciplines. They will inspire you to think differently. We hope you enjoy it.

    Course outline

    40 lessons - jam-packed with ideas, practical techniques, stories, examples, case studies, quiz questions, useful resources and guidance for learning-by-doing. Take a peek.

    Part I — Complexity and the 21st Century

    We'll explore why a growing number of people and organisations are citing complex problem solving as a necessary, if not the most-needed, skillset for the 21st Century. We explore what we mean by the term ‘complex’ and why our traditional, linear methods of problem-solving need updating.

    Part II — 21st Century Thinking Skills

    A guide for higher-order thinking including strategic thinking, critical thinking, systems thinking, creative thinking, design thinking, analytical thinking, structured thinking, and futures thinking; and, a conceptual model for complex problem solving that embeds these higher-order thinking styles.

    Part III — 20 Questions for Complex Problem Solving, Strategy and Design

    A practical guide for complex problem solving based on 20 Questions that prompt you to think about the most important things you need to think about when grappling with a complex challenge, and, importantly, practical techniques to help you do that thinking. Topics include: Framing problems, knowns and unknowns, understanding problems, design, goal design, implementation, evaluation, unintended consequences, trade-offs, testing assumptions, data, evidence-based decision-making, stakeholder engagement, interdisciplinary approaches, listening and having purposeful conversations, and compelling communication.

    Learn as a Team

    Complex problem solving skills are valuable lifelong skills for individuals, but there is even greater value when whole teams are aware of the ideas and can use the techniques together.

    Better Teamwork

    Provides a common approach, language and toolkit that sits across discipline-specific methods and knowledge. All team members understand and can contribute to the problem-solving process.

    More Impact

    Complex problem solving skills help to deliver better outcomes from projects because less time and money is wasted, knowledge and time is used productively, effort is focused, and the approach used has been rigorous.

    Capability Development

    Track your team members’ progress through the course. Build valuable and transferrable lifelong skills in your people. Learn more about how team subscriptions work.

    Pricing & Plans

    Enrol yourself, your team or your whole organisation

    Prices in AUD, inc GST
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    Access Code:

    Individual AUD $199

    • 40 lessons
    • One year subscription
    • Instant access
    • On-demand learning
    • Track your progress
    • Certificate
    • Mark your favourites
    • Worksheets
    • Quizzes
    • Guidance for activity-based learning
    • Further reading
    • Annual renewals
    Get Started

    Student AUD $99

    Students have access to all the features of the Individual plan, at a discounted price. See eligibility criteria.

    Educator AUD $149

    By signing up as an Educator, you'll be able show the videos and share the worksheets with your students. See eligibility criteria.

    Navigate Complexity is proud to offer discounts for those in the education sector.
    Get Started

    Team AUD $149/pp

    People who work together can learn together, at a discounted price.

    Everything in the individual plan, plus assign a team manager who can track team members’ progress through the course.

    Learn with up to 50 people at a time.

    If you have more than 50 people, contact us about our large group discounts.

    Learn more about how team subscriptions work.

    Volume Subscriptions

    If you are an educational institution, further discounts are available either by recommending Navigate Complexity as a resource for unit(s) of study (as you would a text book), or by purchasing subscriptions on behalf of your students and/or staff.  If you are an organisation with large groups (>50 people), larger group discounts are available. If you are a consultant and would like to use these materials with your clients, licenses are available. Please contact us to find out more.

    Who’s Taking the Course

    We’re proud to be partnering with leading organisations to build people’s problem-solving capabilities.

    Jane did a superlative job of explaining what complexity means, and outlining strategies and tools we can use to come to grips with slippery issues and wicked problems.
    Senior Adviser, Commonwealth Government Department

    Your Presenter

    From designing aerospace systems, to providing policy advice within the Department of the Prime Minister & Cabinet (Australia), Jane MacMaster brings together insights from technology design, policy development, complexity science and many other fascinating areas to provide a conceptual model and practical techniques for complex problem solving.