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Schulich Executive Learning Centre

Critical Thinking and Strategic Problem Solving Skills for Leaders

Available dates

Nov 18—19, 2019
2 days
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
CAD 2850 ≈USD 2171
CAD 1425 per day
Apr 6—7, 2020
2 days
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
CAD 2850 ≈USD 2171
CAD 1425 per day
Oct 26—27, 2020
2 days
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
CAD 2850 ≈USD 2171
CAD 1425 per day


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About the course

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

This critical thinking training provides rapid, intuitive tools that enable executives to quickly cut to the heart of strategic and organizational decisions, focusing on areas that have the greatest impact on performance.

With this problem solving training you will learn a step-by-step process for diagnosing business issues, generating options and implementing innovative solutions.

About This Seminar

The course addresses the three basic levels of business challenge:

  • Making strategic decisions

The key to great decision-making is clarity in generating options and criteria under challenging conditions. You will learn how to master this process.

  • Solving problems that can be solved

Effective problem solving begins with careful definition of the problem. Executives will learn a set of proven approaches for rational and creative problem solving.

  • Managing difficult dilemmas

When a problem is highly complex, and resistant to multiple attempts at solution, it is a dilemma. Participants will use the 5-step Dialectical Solutions Method (DSM) to tackle their toughest strategic dilemmas.

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
  • Understand how to analyze issues and identify the best possible solution

Course content details

Critical Thinking and Strategic Problem Solving Skills for Leaders

  1. 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
  1. Making Effective Strategic Business Decisions
  • The three main barriers to strategic problem solving:
    • Faulty definition
    • Wrong level of complexity
    • Negative bias
  • Identifying available options
  • Establishing useful time frames
  • Gathering and evaluating decision criteria
  • Following a structured decision process
  1. 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
  1. 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 modelling and analysis
    • Step 4: gap analysis
    • Step 5: resolution planning
  • Practising the DSM model on a current issue
  1. 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
  1. 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

Who should attend

Any senior manager, VP or director can immediately apply the strategic planning techniques, including:

  • Corporate-level managers and VPs from all departments
  • Operations and administrative officers
  • Project managers who lead complex projects
  • Sales and marketing team members who must respond to new competitive threats

Trust the experts

Alex Lowy

Alex Lowy consults widely as a strategic advisor and educator, helping organizations around the world address major dilemmas in a systematic and effective manner. His clients have included technology firms (HP, IBM), banks (CIBC, BMO) resources companies (Shell) and government (Province of Ontari...


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