Finding Solutions to Unstructured Problems

The Best Way to the Right Answers

Created in partnership with: Mike Rosenberg

What You Will Learn

  • Improve response to business problems by targeting root causes rather than symptoms.
  • Perform quantitative and qualitative analyses to determine how alternatives measure up against criteria, and use results to arrive at an optimal decision.
  • Develop timelines and resource plans, estimate costs, and identify relevant considerations that will be required to ensure the success of the selected solution.

What You Will Do

  • Understand differences between structured and unstructured problems.
  • Apply the IESE Six-Step Process For Solving Unstructured Problems.
  • Develop strategies to handle personal attitudes, opinions, and ethical questions that arise in decision-making exercises.
  • Understand the importance of researching and testing assumptions in order to develop a realistic action plan.


As a manager, you do a lot of problem solving. Some problems have clear answers. Most of the problems you face, however, are unstructured. They are unpredictable, have several criteria to consider, and have multiple right answers. How can you deal with these kinds of problems effectively?

In this Leaning Sprint you will apply a six-step process for resolving unstructured business problems, developed and tested by expert researchers and faculty at IESE, a top global business school.

You will examine what happens when managers conduct too little or too much analysis. You will discuss how to handle personal attitudes, opinions, and ethical questions that come into the decision-making process. You will learn to distinguish between relevant and irrelevant information. And, you will practice developing an effective action plan, once you’ve come to a decision.

By applying the six-step process to a series of simulated cases and a problem that you are currently facing, while getting feedback from experts and peers, you will develop stronger decision-making capabilities to achieve better results.

Course Outline

  1. Managers Solve Problems
    • What Do Managers Do?
    • The Six-Step Process for Resolving Unstructured Problems
    • What Kind of Decision Maker Are You Today?
    • An Unstructured Problem You are Facing
  2. Intermarket Technology: An Unstructured Problem
    • Introduction to Intermarket Technology
    • How Would You Approach Intermarket Technology?
    • Defining a Solution for Your Own Unstructured Problem
  3. Morgan Components: A Complex Unstructured Problem
    • Introduction to Morgan Components
    • Working Together to Define Morgan Components’ Difficult Problem
    • Revisiting Your Unstructured Problem
  4. Analyzing Morgan Components
    • Possible Alternatives for Morgan Components
    • Analyzing Alternatives for Morgan Components
    • Making a Decision: Morgan Components
  5. Tackling Your Own Unstructured Problem
    • Addressing Your Unstructured Problem
    • Preparing to Present Your Unstructured Problem
    • Finalizing Your Presentation
    • Collaborating on Unstructured Problems

Expert Faculty

Mike Rosenberg
Assistant Professor Strategic Management, IESE Business School

Additional Material