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Make a Convincing Case for Your Solution
Thinking Critically
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Thinking Critically

Make a Convincing Case for Your Solution

COURSE OVERVIEW

When trying to persuade someone, the tendency is to begin in advocacy mode—for example: “Here’s something I want you to agree to.” Most people do not react positively to the feeling of being sold something. The usual reaction is to literally or figuratively start backing up. To make a convincing case, it is more effective to engage with the decision maker as a partner in problem-solving. This makes your counterpart feel less like someone is trying to get them to buy something and more like you are working together to bring about an outcome that is desirable to both parties. Begin by asking yourself: “What is the problem you and the decision maker are solving together?”

By the end of this course, you will have learned how to deeply analyze a problem, possible solutions, and the associated risks as well as the most persuasive and efficient ways of presenting your proposal.

The course Problem-Solving Using Evidence and Critical Thinking is required to be completed prior to starting this course.

KEY COURSE TAKEAWAYS

  • Summarize your analysis of the problem and alternative solutions you rejected
  • Determine and mitigate risks connected with your solution
  • Anticipate objections to and arguments against your solution and prepare counterarguments
  • Structure your proposal and/or presentation
  • Confidently and convincingly defend your proposal

Solve Problems Using Evidence and Critical Thinking
Thinking Critically
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Thinking Critically

Solve Problems Using Evidence and Critical Thinking

COURSE OVERVIEW

Have you ever known a very intelligent person who made a very bad decision? If so, you know that having a high IQ does not guarantee that you automatically make critically thoughtful decisions. Critically thoughtful problem-solving is a discipline and a skill—one that allows you to make decisions that are the product of careful thought, and the results of those decisions help your team and organization thrive.

In this course you will practice a disciplined, systematic approach to problem solving that helps ensure that your analysis of a problem is comprehensive, is based on quality, credible evidence, and takes full and fair account of the most probable counterarguments and risks. The result of this technique is a thoroughly defensible assessment of what the problem is, what is causing it, and the most effective plan of action to address it. Finally, you will identify and frame a problem by assessing its context and develop a well-reasoned and implementable solution that addresses the underlying causes.

KEY COURSE TAKEAWAYS

  • Assess the context of the problem
  • Determine the current and desired states and confirm this with decision makers
  • Identify and articulate the questions that must be answered to bridge the gap between current state and desired future state
  • Determine root causes and distinguish symptoms from problems
  • Brainstorm a range of possible solutions to address each significant underlying cause
  • Assess each option for the extent to which it bridges the gap between current and future state, whether it is implementable, and if it is ethical

Leading Challenging Conversations
Thinking Critically
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Thinking Critically

Leading Challenging Conversations

COURSE OVERVIEW

Sometimes there's a person, a situation, or an issue that really drives you crazy. Often, the only way forward is to face the issue head on by having a conversation about it with those involved. While that may sound simple, the situations are often emotionally charged, and people tend to avoid these conversations at all costs. Generally, issues that require these conversations don't rise to the level of a conflict and aren't considered performance issues, making it even harder for those involved to know how they should move forward.

Leading challenging conversations is about facing your discomfort and dedicating yourself to the conversation that needs to happen. You'll learn to identify issues that require a conversation, and to self check if you are the correct person to have the conversation. Once you've identified a conversation, you'll follow a process that helps you create a plan, conduct the conversation, and follow up.

Let's be clear, having a conversation doesn't automatically lead to a resolution. Not having a resolution can be frustrating for many of us, so it's important that you think about success as either fully resolving the issue or helping you identify a path for productively approaching the problem using tools that you have. In the course project, you'll identify a conversation in your workplace, create a plan, practice having the conversation, and determine the appropriate next steps. Professor Nobles will guide you on how to do this using proven strategies and a refined process. This course focuses on conversations you'll have, not coaching others to have these conversations. However, the process that is taught can be shared with peers as they face situations requiring challenging conversations.

KEY COURSE TAKEAWAYS

  • Identify a conversation that will be challenging
  • Prepare for a challenging conversation
  • Practice having a conversation that is challenging
  • Define next steps and follow up needed after a challenging conversation

Applying a Problem Solving Approach to Conflict
Thinking Critically
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Thinking Critically

Applying a Problem Solving Approach to Conflict

COURSE OVERVIEW

When most of us face conflict, we often either avoid dealing with it, or we jump in and try to force a solution. These responses may be driven by a lack of comfort with or even a fear of conflict. Unfortunately, neither response is always correct, and neither approach should be the first step. Professors Klingel and Nobles will share how to overcome these instincts and successfully apply a problem-solving approach to conflict.

The first course in this series, “Diagnosing Workplace Conflict,” focused on fully diagnosing a conflict without jumping into problem solving. In this course, you’ll look at how to best handle a fully diagnosed conflict using a problem-solving approach. A common issue we’ll address is jumping to solutions before understanding the scope of the conflict and the needs that will have to be addressed to resolve it. Thus, you’ll begin by determining the scope. Depending on the scope you may move forward with the problem-solving approach, or, you may decide to let it go. The problem-solving approach, which consists of eight steps that can be broken down into three key elements, is the framework through which this course is taught. In the course project, you’ll practice applying this approach to a conflict of your choosing. The approach is intended to be used when solving conflict you are directly involved in. Despite this, we’ll offer practical advice on how you could adapt this for other use cases.

The course Diagnosing Workplace Conflict is required to be completed prior to starting this course.

KEY COURSE TAKEAWAYS

Move from conflict diagnosis to problem solving

Determine the scope of the conflict and how to proceed

Determine the problem, interests, and criteria for successful resolution

Generate options and agree on a solution

Implement and monitor a measurable solution

Strategic Decision Making
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Thinking Critically

Strategic Decision Making

COURSE OVERVIEW

The ability to make effective and timely decisions is an essential skill for successful executives. Mastery of this skill influences all aspects of day-to-day operations as well as strategic planning. In this course, developed by Professor Robert Bloomfield, Ph.D. of Cornell University's Johnson Graduate School of Management, you will hone your decision-making skills by following a methodology based on tested actions and sound organizational approaches. You will leave this course better equipped to confidently tackle any decision large or small, and you'll do so in a way that creates the optimal conditions for success.

KEY COURSE TAKEAWAYS

  • Respond decisively and consistently when faced with situations that require a decision
  • Determine the most important features of the decision you need to make, based on the setting and the context 
  • Recognize and compensate for psychological factors in yourself and in others that affect decision quality
  • Incorporate available information into decisions, with an awareness of the limitations of that information
  • Establish responsibilities and accountabilities to ensure effective follow­through on decisions made

Becoming a Systems Leader
Thinking Critically
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Thinking Critically

Becoming a Systems Leader

COURSE OVERVIEW

For organizations to succeed, they need to develop individuals who are constantly learning and adapting according to information on the ground. Sharing key mental models—at the organizational, team, and individual levels—is critical to creating a culture of learning that enables the organization to survive and thrive through chaos and complexity.

In this course, Professors Derek and Laura Cabrera demonstrate how to become a systems leader; that is, someone who can use systems thinking at the organizational level, at the team level, and at the individual level. You will create a culture for your organization that is built on shared mental models and develop techniques to incentivize thought leaders to support the culture based on your vision, mission, capacity, and learning. At the team level, where the real work of the organization gets done, you will explore the process of building, sharing and evolving mental models through collaborative mapping and feedback processes. And finally, you will turn your own thinking into doing, to ensure that your actions are aligned with key organizational mental models. With tools, techniques, and expert guidance, you can begin to implement systems thinking at all levels of the organization, creating teams and individuals upon which organizational culture, values, and success are built.

KEY COURSE TAKEAWAYS

  • Build your organizational culture around the shared mental models of your vision and mission using internal marketing campaigns and creative incentives
  • Create a visual map of a critical team project or process and share and refine that map with other team members to optimize your collective work
  • Develop an actionable list of assignments and work activities to ensure that your actions are aligned with critical team and organizational mental models

Designing Organizations for Systems Thinking
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Thinking Critically

Designing Organizations for Systems Thinking

COURSE OVERVIEW

Why do we start organizations in the first place? We have a vision for the future, and we need to work with others to bring that vision to life. The whole purpose of any organization is collective action. When organizations fail, it is often the result of the failure to harness the collective power of individuals to drive toward that singular vision. However, much like you would design an iPhone, you can also design organizations that are adaptive and can focus everyone on achieving the organization's vision.

In this course, Cornell University faculty members Derek and Laura Cabrera present you with the design principles of intelligent, adaptive organizations built for systems thinking. With expert guidance and hands-on activities, you will create your organization’s vision and mission, and build capacity and learning systems that support your organization’s ability to achieve these core principles. This approach is a systems leadership and organizational design model that will help you better design, guide, manage, and change your organization. It provides you with a blueprint to build the culture you need to attain your ultimate goal: to have your entire organization, at every level, working toward realizing your company’s vision.

These courses are required to be completed prior to starting this course:

  • Framing Complex Problems with Systems Thinking
  • Using the Four Simple Rules of Systems Thinking
  • Visualizing and Modeling Complex Systems
  • Building Analytical and Emotional Intelligence with Systems Thinking

KEY COURSE TAKEAWAYS

  • Develop a vision for your organization or department that describes its desired future state and provides a goal that everyone in the organization should strive to meet
  • Create a mission for your organization that defines the actions you and others will take to bring about the future state described in the vision
  • Identify and align the mission-critical systems that build the organization’s capacity to perform the mission and achieve the vision
  • Build a learning culture so your organization adapts to feedback from the environment, continually improves the mission-critical systems, and can thrive in the face of change

Building Analytical and Emotional Intelligence with Systems Thinking
Thinking Critically
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Thinking Critically

Building Analytical and Emotional Intelligence with Systems Thinking

COURSE OVERVIEW

Recent surveys show that employers are looking for individuals who have both analytical and emotional intelligence. Organizational leaders across a wide spectrum of industries and professions want people with strong problem-solving skills who can handle their emotions and work effectively with others. How can you learn to better balance your emotions with critical thinking, to balance your own needs with the needs of another? This course will provide you with the tools and guidance for using the simple rules of systems thinking (DSRP) to build both your analytical and emotional intelligence.

By asking more robust questions and challenging yourself to go beyond traditional forms of thought and logic, you can more quickly identify and bridge the gaps in your thinking and build new knowledge about any problem or situation. You will transcend either-or thinking to consider a wider range of possibilities that more closely reflect the real world. These same approaches for building your analytical capabilities also enable you to harness your emotions by helping you gain awareness of your own thinking. This awareness will build your emotional intelligence, which in turn will increase your ability to collaborate, think creatively, and solve tough problems. You will come away from this course with practical approaches you can apply in every area of your life to enhance your work, your decisions, and your relationships.

These courses are required to be completed prior to starting this course:

  • Framing Complex Problems with Systems Thinking
  • Using the Four Simple Rules of Systems Thinking
  • Visualizing and Modeling Complex Systems

KEY COURSE TAKEAWAYS

  • Bridge the gaps in your thinking and make predictions that build new knowledge using the simple rules of systems thinking
  • Compare your analysis of a problem or situation using traditional forms of logic with DSRP-based logic to find more robust solutions and build deeper connections
  • Increase awareness of your own thoughts, emotions, and motivations to build your emotional intelligence, help direct your ethical compass, and encourage empathy and pro-social behaviors

Visualizing and Mapping Complex Problems
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Thinking Critically

Visualizing and Mapping Complex Problems

COURSE OVERVIEW

How do you make sense of all the information you are bombarded with on a daily basis? We can barely absorb the overwhelming amount of information, let alone determine its meaning. As Derek and Laura Cabrera illustrate in this course, we humans process information best with our eyes and our hands, and we can take advantage of this fact by using visual maps. Visual maps can help you corral this information, organize and structure it, and most importantly, convert it into knowledge that you can act upon.

In this course, you will use the online mapping software, Plectica, so that you can break down your complex problems using the simple rules of systems thinking, DSRP. Building maps with this easy-to-use software will help you gain insights into processes, relationships, or challenges of any kind, and enable you to quickly and easily share these insights with others. As you become more adept at creating visual maps, your systems thinking skills will increase as you deepen your understanding of complex ideas, communicate these ideas more effectively, and enhance collaboration across groups to spur innovation.

The courses Framing Complex Problems with Systems Thinking and Using the Four Simple Rules of Systems are Thinking are required to be completed prior to starting this course.

KEY COURSE TAKEAWAYS

  • Deconstruct the information and the structure of your thinking to more completely understand your mental models and the complex problems you are trying to solve
  • Describe and map cognitive jigs, or templates you can use to uncover hidden structures, while increasing the speed of thought and understanding
  • Build visual maps to enhance your understanding of your own complex problems and your ability to enact real solutions

Using the Four Simple Rules of Systems Thinking
Thinking Critically
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Thinking Critically

Using the Four Simple Rules of Systems Thinking

COURSE OVERVIEW

While you may not realize it, you are already making use of some of the patterns of systems thinking. For example, you may take a certain perspective on a problem—however, you might not be aware of your perspective and more importantly, may not recognize that you are likely omitting other perspectives. It is these types of omissions that contribute to both the creation of our most challenging problems and our inability to solve them. This course will walk you through the four simple rules of systems thinking, which provide a new paradigm for solving problems. These rules represent distinctions, systems, relationships, and perspectives, or DSRP.

Throughout this course, you will start to unlearn some of the deeply ingrained thought patterns that result in unproductive interactions, unintentional bias, and faulty binary or linear thinking. Systems thinking means intentionally reflecting on how you think, including both the information and the structure of your thoughts and ideas so that you can break old habits and think more systematically. With a variety of examples, tools, and techniques, you will practice making distinctions between ideas or things, organize ideas into systems, recognize hidden or underlying relationships, and identify the perspectives implicit in the information you analyze. As a result, you will be equipped to identify more innovative solutions, build consensus across diverse groups of people, and approach problems with more creativity, adaptability, and clarity.

The course Framing Complex Problems with Systems Thinking is required to be completed prior to starting this course.

KEY COURSE TAKEAWAYS

  • Build your organizational culture around the shared mental models of your vision and mission using internal marketing campaigns and creative incentives
  • Create a visual map of a critical team project or process and share and refine that map with other team members to optimize your collective work
  • Develop an actionable list of assignments and work activities to ensure that your actions are aligned with critical team and organizational mental models

Framing Complex Problems with Systems Thinking
Thinking Critically
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Thinking Critically

Framing Complex Problems with Systems Thinking

COURSE OVERVIEW

Whether you need to tackle a complex project, communicate more effectively, rethink your organization or your job, solve world hunger, or figure out your teenager, systems thinking can help you. All of these are complex and challenging real-world problems, sometimes called wicked problems. We all confront problems, big and small, in our personal and professional lives, and most of us are searching for better ways to solve them. In this course, Professors Derek and Laura Cabrera will demonstrate how we can use systems thinking to solve everyday and wicked problems, to transform our organizations, and to increase our personal effectiveness.

At its core, systems thinking attempts to better align the way we think with how the real world works. Our thinking is based on our mental models, but these models, created from our unique perspective with its inherent biases, are usually inadequate representations of reality. The Cabreras illustrate how we can use feedback to recognize and adapt our mental models so that they better align with reality, enhancing our problem-solving capabilities.

For systems thinking to be successful, it must be adaptive. In this course, you will explore the concept of complex adaptive systems, and while these systems seem unnecessarily complicated, the Cabreras will reveal a surprising discovery. Underlying all complex adaptive systems are simple rules, and applying these rules is the key to transforming the way we frame and solve everyday problems.


KEY COURSE TAKEAWAYS

  • Identify and describe the problems you want to solve in your personal and professional lives
  • Examine the mental models you have and how they differ from reality
  • Determine how you can use feedback to improve your mental models
  • Recognize the biases that you have that can distort your mental models
  • Examine complex adaptive systems and the simple rules that underlie these systems
  • Determine how systems thinking is a complex adaptive system
  • Explore the four simple rules that underlie systems thinking