Addressing Complex Problems

Course Group: 
Addressing Complex Problems


This short course (which is also the first three days of our Systems Thinking and Modelling Practice course) introduces the most appropriate ways of visualising the interrelationships between the various parts of real-world problems, from straightforward well-behaved problems to those problems that continually change over time and are resistant to corrective action. The course provides solid foundations for developing strategies and managing problems including those for which conventional reductionist ways of thinking are ineffective. Those interested in practising the skills developed on this course may wish to stay on for the following two days to complete the Systems Thinking and Modelling Practice course, which forms the basis of the micro-credential ZEIT8244 Systems Thinking and Modelling Knowledge course that may be used to gain credit towards a postgraduate program (see Masters credit section below). 

No prior knowledge is assumed. 

Who Should Attend

Course Outline

Presenter Background

Dates & Registration

Duration: 3 days

Delivery mode: Classroom


Advertised: Canberra

In-house: All states and neighbouring countries, contact the  for more information. Recommended for groups of 10 or more.

What you will receive:


"I found the whole course to be valuable in confirming and adding to my knowledge of addressing Complex Problems." 19/09/2016


*pending final results




The course is valuable for anyone faced with continually changing problems in public or private sector organisations or communities.





The nature of problems including well-behaved, complex, and wicked problems | Human ability to solve problems | A problem solving framework for complex problems | Introduction to problem-solving tools

Addressing Well-behaved Problems

Identification of stakeholders | Definition of problem statement | Functional decomposition of well-behaved problems | Functional decomposition exercise (in groups): Stakeholders; Constraints; Need statement; Operational scenarios; Measures of effectiveness; Support concepts; and Context diagrams

Addressing Complex/Wicked Problems

The difference between well-behaved problems and complex/wicked problems | Systems thinking language | Understanding the problem | Tools for solving complex problems | Causal loop diagramming (CLD) | CLD exercises | Using archetypes to think about complex problems | reflecting on holistic complexity | Creative thinking methods | Decision making and strategy development (ACTIFELD, Field Anomaly Relaxation)



Mike Ryan   DR MIKE RYAN

Dr Mike Ryan holds BE, MEngSc and PhD degrees in electrical engineering from the University of New South Wales. He is a Fellow of Engineers Australia (FIEAust), a Chartered Professional Engineer (CPEng) in electrical and ITEE colleges, a Senior Member of IEEE (SMIEEE), a Fellow of the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE), and a Member of the Australian Institute of Management (AIMM). Since 1981, he has held a number of positions in communications and systems engineering and in management and project management. Since 1998, he has been with the School of Engineering and Information Technology, University of New South Wales, Canberra where he is currently the Director of the Capability Systems Centre. His research and teaching interests are in communications and information systems, requirements engineering, systems engineering, and project management. He is the Editor-in-Chief of an international journal, and is the Chair of the Requirements Working Group of INCOSE. He is the author or co-author of twelve books, three book chapters, and over 180 technical papers and reports.



Dr Alan McLucas gained his BE at the University of New South Wales, Kensington, a masters in management studies and a PhD degree in operations research from the University of New South Wales, Canberra, Australia, in 1976, 1983, 1995, and 2001 respectively.  Following an extensive military career, and employment as a systems engineering and project management consultant, he was appointed as a Senior Lecturer at the University College, UNSW, Australian Defence Force Academy. His research and teaching interests include systems thinking and system dynamics modelling, project management, risk management, solving complex problems and strategy development. He has published widely in the systems thinking and system dynamics modelling literature and is the author of two books.



Dr Sondoss Elsawah holds MSc in operations research and PhD degree in computer science from the University of New South Wales. She is a post-doctoral researcher at University of New South Wales and an adjunct fellow at the Australian National University. Her research and teaching interests include using systems thinking and system dynamics, modelling and simulation, and interdisciplinary knowledge to support problem solving and learning in complex problematic situations. She sits on the executive committee of the Australian/NZ Modelling and Simulation Society, and the organizing committee of the 21st International Congress on Modelling and Simulation (Modsim 2015). She has published widely including journal articles, conference papers, book chapters, and technical reports. She has attracted research grants from Government and industrial agencies in Australia and overseas, including Australian Research Council (ARC) and US National Scientific Fund (NSF).



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16 September 2019 - 18 September 2019