What is the course about?
As the world’s population increases we need to find new ways to manage the strain this puts on resources such as energy, food and water.
‘Complex Problems, Sustainable Solutions’ was developed in order to address this need for new problem-solving methods.
Focused on the energy-food-water Nexus, this skills-based course introduces you to NXthinking – a unique combination of proven methodologies and tools to help you work through local or global problems and find lasting solutions.
And it doesn’t just help you work through sustainability issues. You can apply the critical and creative thinking to any problem – big or small.
What will I learn?
‘Complex Problems, Sustainable Solutions’ is for anyone who wants to:
- Develop critical and creative problem-solving skills to explore and solve complex real-world problems on a local or global level.
- Dig beneath the surface of an issue to understand the interrelated factors that have caused it.
- Recognise how to shape and create change for the better.
- Become an agent of positive change.
It’s particularly relevant to those interested or already working in STEM (science, technology engineering and maths) fields, as well as anyone involved with NGOs, charities, consultancies, transformation and innovation, development and public services.
You choose the challenge you want to tackle. This can be one of your own or one of the suggested topics included in the course introduction.
You’ll then be guided through the critical and creative thinking needed to solve it. This guidance takes the form of introductory videos, ‘how-to’ animations and written course materials.
There are 3 modules to work through:
- Module 1 – Explore
- Module 2 – Create
- Module 3 – Change
Each module is based on a specific methodology:
- Explore = Systems Thinking
- Create = Scenario Planning
- Change = Theory of Change
Within each module there is a set of tools that you can use to help you work through your problem:
- Connections Circle
- Perspectives Circle
- Causal Loops
- Confidence Triangle
- Change Over Time Graph
- Scenario Planning Quadrant
- SCAMPER Tool
- Feasibility Funnel
- Ripple Effect
- Compass Tool
- ”If...Then” Chain
- Persuasion Pyramid
Note: You won’t always need to use all the tools to help solve your problem. We recommend familiarising yourself with them before you start so you can get a sense of which ones might work best.
All of this is underpinned by a five-part framework called NXthinking:
Specially developed for the course, these five types of thinking allow you to dig beneath the
surface of problems, understand the interrelated factors that cause them and think about what could be done differently.
The great thing about ‘Complex Problems, Sustainable Solutions’ is that you can come back to it again and again with new challenges. Or use it to refine previous solutions.
I am a Chartered Chemical Engineer, a Fellow of the IChemE with over 20 years in the hydrocarbon / energy industry specialising in process modelling and automation.
I am a Qualified Science Teacher and taught physics and engineering at high school, sixth form and university.
I am Shell's Programme Lead for NXplorers and as well as leading the programme, I conduct NXplorers workshops across the globe and most recently online.