DIY Learn Module of the Month: Problem Definition

It’s been 12 months since we launched DIY Learn, our online learning programme in innovation developed in partnership with the Open University. Made up of 10 bitesize modules, DIY Learn helps you to put the innovation tools and methods from Nesta’s popular DIY Toolkit into practice.

We originally created the DIY Toolkit with the Rockefeller Foundation back in 2014 to support people working in development to invent, adopt or adapt ideas that can deliver better results. DIY Learn takes this to the next level by turning the most used tools in the Toolkit into interactive modules that guide you through how to use them step-by-step.

We’re showcasing each module from DIY Learn here on the Nesta website month by month, and our fifth Module of the Month is the Problem Definition.

Problem Definition

You think you know what the problem is. It’s simple, right? But sometimes what at first seems to be the issue is just a symptom of something deeper. The Problem Definition tool works to both open a problem up – presenting it in a way that can be examined from a number of angles – as well as helping to define the wider context and associated issues involved.

The tool lets you to see your problem through fresh eyes and uncover alternative perspectives. This, in turn, will then help you to create a more appropriate and effective solution.

Using the tool to compare several problems, for example with different projects within your organisation, can also highlight common issues that you weren’t previously aware of.

The DIY Learn module walks you through the Problem Definition tool and offers guidance so that you can make the most of using it. By taking the module, you will be able to:

  • describe when it is useful and appropriate to spend time on a detailed definition of a problem
  • recognise and understand the steps in defining a problem
  • complete a problem definition analysis for a problem that you face
  • revise or reframe a problem to make it manageable and solvable

Watch the Problem Definition module introductory video below, or go straight to the module.

We estimate this module will take between two and three hours to complete for an independent learner with a good level of English. It is divided into smaller study sessions, each of which follows a standard pattern to make it easier for you to plan your time. As you work through the module there are some in-text activities to help test your understanding of the material, and it finished with a series of self-assessment questions.

Feedback and further resources

We hope that you enjoy the module, and we’re always delighted to hear from our learners. Please send feedback on the module to [email protected]. We are particularly keen to hear what you have done with the skills and tools you have learned.

Whilst the module has been designed to be studied independently this is not the only way it can be used. The DIY Learn Trainers Handbook also provides guidance on using all the modules as a basis for group training in a classroom setting.

Take the module>>

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Isobel Roberts

Isobel Roberts

Isobel Roberts

Content and Communications Manager, Innovation Skills

Isobel worked in the Innovation Skills team as Content and Communications Manager, helping to build Nesta's learning and development offering.

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