Professional Development

Problem Solving Series

Problem solving involves a spectrum of processes, including generating ideas, evaluating, making decisions and implementing a solution.  Often, we are only treating a symptom instead of addressing the core problem.  For this reason, it is important to thoroughly investigate and think outside of the box.  There are many useful techniques for investigating problems and exploring possible solutions.

This series begins with a short course about decision making because it is important to consider upfront who needs to be involved in your process.  The second course focuses on problem solving from start to finish, including these topics:

  • Identifying the real problem
  • Generating possible solutions
  • Brainstorming
  • Boosting your creativity
  • Using your intuition and logic
  • Selecting the best solution
  • Considering implementation

A creativity course has been included, as creativity is an important aspect in problem solving.  It allows you to see things from all angles, helping to generate novel ideas or solutions to problems. A dedicated course on brainstorming will focus on creating effective group sessions by combining creativity, problem solving, and group discussion. The final course pulls all of the previous ideas together with some concrete examples and wraps up with tips on presenting your new solution to your audience and stakeholders.

Instructions to Complete this Series

Program participants must complete the five (5) courses and complete them within one year in order to receive credit in GEMS and a certificate of completion.

The courses in this series may be accessed for free through LinkedIn Learning with your USF NetID. Click here for instructions on accessing courses directly on the LinkedIn Learning website.  To receive credit in GEMS for completion of the Problem Solving Series, please do the following:

Upon completion of the online courses, email all five (5) of your certificates from LinkedIn Learning in one email with your Employee ID number to Your Employee ID number is an 11 digit number beginning with zeroes. You can find your Employee ID number in USF PersonSearch at After logging in and finding your record, click the green "view" button next to your name to reach the screen with your employee ID.

Complete the following 5 courses for the Problem Solving Series:

Making Decisions (11 minutes)

"Smart decision making, whether it's who to hire or what strategy to play, is a skill that sets you apart personally and professionally. In this short course, Todd Dewett shows you five simple steps to making better decisions. He'll help you evaluate if you have enough time, sufficient information, the right people involved, and other key factors necessary to making strong choices." - Description from LinkedIn Learning

Click here to access the Making Decisions course in LinkedIn Learning 

Problem Solving Techniques (1 hour 32 minutes)

"You can't solve a problem unless you can get to the cause—and sometimes there's more than one. In this course, learn techniques for identifying the root cause of a problem, generating options, and selecting the best solution. Chris Croft takes you through several methods for identifying what's actually causing a problem, including looking at the whole system when a problem is actually a symptom of a larger issue. He also explains how to generate potential solutions using mind maps and decision trees, how to boost your creativity to help you come up with more insightful options, and how to use both logic and your intuition to select the right solution to your problem. LinkedIn Learning is a PMI Registered Education Provider. This course qualifies for professional development units (PDUs)."  - Description from LinkedIn Learning

Click here to access the Problem Solving Techniques course in LinkedIn Learning 

The Five Step Creative Process (19 minutes)

"The creative process isn't just 'generating ideas.' The reality is it's a five-step process, and ideation is only one of those steps. The entire creative process is made up of objective finding, data gathering, problem design, ideation, and selection. Understanding the role of each step enables us to ensure that we generate the most effective solutions. In this course, Stefan Mumaw guides us through the five steps and then shows us what the complete process looks like, with a real-world project: designing a website." - Description from LinkedIn Learning

Click here to access the Five Step Creative Process course in LinkedIn Learning

Learning Brainstorming (43 minutes)

"What is brainstorming? Invented in 1948, brainstorming is still the dominant technique when it comes to idea generation. It combines creativity, problem solving, and group discussion. Unfortunately for creator Alex Osborn, most brainstorms fail before they ever begin. Why? Because the organizer doesn't have a clear picture of the purpose, process, or intended outcome. In this course, Stefan Mumaw brings brainstorming into the modern age, with rules and techniques that will help you set up and run more-effective creative brainstorming sessions." - Description from LinkedIn Learning

Click here to access the Learning Brainstorming course in LinkedIn Learning

Solving Business Problems (38 minutes)

"Do you have a business problem that you are having trouble solving? Mike Figliuolo has a simple five-step process for solving problems and leading your business through everyday uncertainty and larger change initiatives. Learn to pin the problem down and define it, generate possible solutions, determine the best solution, and create a clear recommendation to solve your particular challenge. This is the same process Mike has taught multibillion-dollar companies to solve their business problems. Learn how to use it to solve your own." - Description from LinkedIn Learning

Click here to access the Solving Business Problems course in LinkedIn Learning