Managing Complex Problems Involving Technical and Social Challenges

Training overview
Professional Course
4 hours
From 119.80 USD
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119.80 USD
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Course description

In Managing Complex Problems Involving Technical and Social Challenges, you'll learn ...

  • How to explicitly recognize a problem as complex
  • How to establish realistic outcome expectations for dealing with complex problems
  • How to design a process to address a complex problem
  • How to establish functional programs for managing a complex problem


Credit: 4 PDH

Length: 59 pages

Problem solving strategies taught to engineers in college work well in the earlier years of one’s career, when tasked to solve purely technical problems. With advancement however, many engineers become confronted with more complex and sometimes controversial projects that go beyond the purely technical challenges. Such projects, in addition to any inherent technical issues, may involve a mix of competing stakeholder interests or ideologies, multiple competing regulatory constraints, political influences, and other non-technical influences that can determine a project’s success. A prior course addressed controversial projects: Technical Communications on Controversial Projects. Controversy is only one aspect of the complexity addressed in this course. Moreover, herein we address “problems” rather than merely “projects” because the nature of the issues can require sustained effort involving multiple actions that is more long-term and programmatic in nature than is typically considered within a single project effort.

For engineers, many examples of complex problems exist in emergency response planning where engineered solutions are integrated with social systems, such as: urban planning in response to climate change, managing dams, levees and other critical and high-risk infrastructure, and engineering of various safety industrial systems. Engineering and development on ideologically sensitive topics such as alternative energy development is another example.

While drawing upon some of the same foundational principals for recognizing the type of problem you are dealing with provided in Technical Communications on Controversial Projects, this course provides a more detailed explanation of the nature of complex problems and introduces the state-of-the-art methods that exist to most effectively manage such problems.

This course requires no pre-requisite knowledge; although, familiarity with Technical Communications on Controversial Projects will help to be better understand the special case of “complex problems”. Anyone responsible for the design, management or regulation of assets or engineered systems that rely on complex human interactions and/or social acceptance to achieve success would benefit from this course, including: scientists and engineers who work on socially controversial projects; Asset Managers; Risk Managers; Planners in land, energy, emergency response, terrorism and other areas involving diverse stakeholder ideology or risk perception; Regulators; Public relations and communications staff; Business Executives and Policymakers, as well as those who seek to influence any of the above.

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Certificate of Completion

You will be able to immediately print a certificate of completion after passing a multiple-choice quiz consisting of 30 questions. PDH credits are not awarded until the course is completed and quiz is passed.

Training content

This course teaches the following specific knowledge and skills:

  • The definition of a complex problem
  • Why engineers struggle with complex problems
  • Different kinds of strategies for solving different kinds of problems
  • Why Type 1 Technical Problems can be “solved”, whereas Type 3 Complex Problems can only be “managed”.
  • What is your own, innate (and possibly entrenched) way of solving problems, and how does this relate to a spectrum of possible problem solving processes including those most suitable to complex problems
  • Risk management frameworks for managing complex problems
  • Common errors to understanding complex problems
  • Common risk recognition biases and knowledge gaps
  • Why it is imperative to use problem framing for complex problems
  • Rationality per the Mental Model Theory
  • 5-Step process to understand and manage complex problems


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Professional Engineers have trusted PDHengineer to provide high-quality PDH courses since 2003. A large library of PDH courses and live, interactive webinars means that engineers can find PDH course material covering all of the major engineering disciplines. Plus, all PDHengineer...

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7915 FM 1960 West, Suite 130
77070 Houston Texas

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