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Social aspects

Suggested tasks/questions for this sub section

Think holistically about the situation and describe the emergent properties of the whole. What kind of effects or characteristics arises from the interplay between all the elements of this problem situation?

Describe the wider societal context and how different groups/stakeholders overlap/interact with each other. What kind of environment does this interaction create?

Describe the dynamics created by the mix of people/groups involved.

Some topics that can be useful to look into are:

  • Culture
  • Criminality, deviance, law and punishment
  • Economics
  • Environment
  • Education
  • Family, gender, and sexuality
  • Health and illness
  • Internet and the web
  • Knowledge and science
  • Literature
  • Media
  • Military
  • Politics
  • Race and ethnic relations
  • Religion
  • Social networks
  • Psychology
  • Stratification, social layers and divide
  • Urban and rural sociology
  • Work and industry

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Further reading for intermediate problem solvers:

In this section you can add articles that describe what we call the social fabric. The social fabric is a term used to describe how people are interwoven into a larger whole.

The social fabric is the basic structure of a society with all its customs and beliefs that make it work as a whole.

In this section we put emphasis on the social and psychological aspects rather than the physical constellations and structure of society.

In the step Setting we summarized the setting or what is going on. In this section we take this a bit further by describing the setting in a wider social context.

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What is the result of the social dynamics?

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Suggested tasks/questions for this sub section

Use this sub section to add links to personal stories of individuals.

The personal story could be an written interview, a video or audio recording. Make sure it is a personal story of only one individual.

Consider adding stories of both people who suffer and from those who gain from the situation.

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Further reading for intermediate problem solvers:

The stories added here are meant to give a personal and human touch to the problem.

These stories help to get a sense of the personal feelings and mindset of the people involved in the situation.

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Personal stories of individuals


Clues To Why You're Not Landing A Job

Why aren't you landing the next great job? The answer varies for each of us, but clues are sometimes obvious when seen from a distance. Below are some comments received on past blog posts, that when reviewed provide some insights. If you share some of the feelings expressed in each comment, feedback after each comment may help correct some of the misconceptions. Take a look at the comments, and see how you might react if you were in an employer's shoes.

Comment: "... Even someone who has some college, no drug usage, no arrests, no tattoos, gets paid the same here who is a HS drop out, smokes pot all day, has a few arrests, and is tattooed and pierced from head to toe. $8.25 hr! "

Degrees matter. Attitude matters. Comparisons don't. "Some college" is not a college degree, and in most cases is no better than just a high school degree. There are many values to a degree. One of them is a demonstration that the person can start and finish something. A two-year associate's degree counts far more than some college at a four-year school.

These days, dress codes vary by the job. It's not the 1950s anymore, and employers look for employees who match their culture. Someone with tats who is talented in a specific aspect of work and wants to do the job is far more appealing to an employer than someone who feels entitled to a higher salary just for having "some college." When you see someone gainfully employed who seems less qualified than you, it's time to ask yourself if you're valuing the same qualifications as the potential employer. You may be valuing your "some college" level of education, while they're valuing attitude and a person's potential ability to meaningfully connect with desired customers.


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Add a personal story by one or several individuals.

  • The story should be down to earth, direct and the words of people in the middle sof the problem situation.

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Suggested tasks/questions for this sub section

What are the ambiguities, the disputes and disagreements? What are the conflicts of interest?

Write about current or past conflicts or tensions. What was the conflict about, who was involved, where and how?

Relevant questions to ask in order to identify sources of conflict:

  • How does ethics and morality cause tension?
  • What are the ethical dilemmas?
  • How do resources become sources of tension between people?
  • Are several stakeholders overusing the same resources?
  • How do dependencies become sources of tension? e.g. Dependence on item for livelihood, proximity to item, cultural linkages to item, pre-existing rights to item, knowledge related to stewardship of item.
  • How do people perceive the activities and attitudes of others?
  • What are the tensions related to distribution of wealth?
  • How do policies cause tension between people?
  • What tensions are there around policies etc.?

A few typical causes of conflict:

  • Resources
  • Styles
  • Roles
  • Values
  • Perceptions
  • Policies
  • Goals

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Advanced topics

Further reading for intermediate problem solvers:

In any problem situation there will be conflicts in the form of disagreements, conflict of interest, tensions, rivalry and on to more severe forms such as battles, clashes, strife etc.

This sub section helps to get an overview of what people are fighting over and how that is played out. Surfacing these conflicts is important to understand the people who eventually are the key to solving the problem.

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What are the conflicts or tensions?


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What are the conflicts, tensions or disagreements?

  • Add only the essential conflicts.
  • Don't add the small insignificant disagreements unless they cause long term problems for many people.

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Suggested tasks/questions for this sub section

  • What is it like to be affected by problem?
  • What do people feel about the issues of the problem?
  • How do people blame others for the problem?
  • What is the emotional health like?
  • Are there any irrational behavior?
  • Are there any repressed or buried emotions?
  • What are the thoughts and daydreams?

Some feelings to look for:

  • Empathy
  • Energy
  • Spirituality
  • Resentments
  • Shock and denial
  • Peace of mind
  • Love
  • Fear and confusion
  • Anger, guilt and imbalance

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Further reading for intermediate problem solvers:

This sub section describes the emotions, feelings and mood of the people involved.

Understanding the perceptions, desires and sentiments is important for designing successful solutions. This sub section helps to identify these human emotional factors.

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What are some of the strong emotions involved?


 -    some Singaporeans were hate the foreign talent policy as they feel that the foreign talents are competing with them over jobs. This happen makes Singaporeans fear that they will losing their job because of the foreign talents who were taken all the job in Singapore. Immigrant of foreign talents also would make Singaporeans feel disregarded and they would not feel proud as a Singaporean. Many Singaporeans, especially those parents are worried about their children which were graduate from university but they would not be able to find a proper job due to the fact that all the job places are being overlooked by those foreign talents



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Add an item describing the emotions, feelings or mood of people.

Do not include statements about why and what it leads to at this point.

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Suggested tasks/questions for this sub section

  • What are the world views that cause conflict or stagnation?
  • What are the deleterious habits or mindsets that hamper learning and development?
  • What thinking affects decisions?
  • How do people come to conclusion about things? How do we collect information and decide what are facts?
  • How do people make sense of things?
  • What is the decision processes like?
  • How do people unconsciously move the facts they observe to conclusions and action?
  • Do people within the problem situation support learning by encouraging both inquiry and advocacy?
  • What are some of the dilemmas in thought that hold people back. E.g. If I don't ask questions, I don't learn; but If I do ask questions, I may look stupid.

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Advanced topics

Further reading for intermediate problem solvers:

A mental model is the image of the world around us, which we carry in our head. Nobody in his head imagines all the world, government or country. He has only selected concepts, and relationships between them, and uses those to represent the real system. - Jay W. Forrester

A person’s mental model explains the thought process about how something works in the real world. It is a representation of the surrounding world, the relationships between its various parts and a person's intuitive perception about his or her own acts and their consequences.

Understanding the mental models of those involved in the problem is important in order to understand how people think and to be able to design solutions that will be supported by the people.

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What is the thinking of people involved in the problem?


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Add a text describing the world view, the beliefs or assumptions of people involved.

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