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Analysing ambiguity: understanding and managing complexity in the professional environment

Professional Skills Workshop

Suggested participants: Mid/senior level managers, SMEs in any business sector, those seeking promotion to management levels or new to management, HR SMEs, Data scientists/analysts.

Event details


As subject specialists handling a multiplicity of data on a daily basis, we will tend to rely on established techniques and approaches. Most of the time these will provide a suitable response.

Time and pressures force us to rarely examine how we are making these decisions, what information we are using to inform us, and how we then persuade others that our decisions and options are correct.

One of the main frustrations is lack of full datasets or the whole ‘big picture’: an all too familiar working context. Add to this ambiguous or incomplete information, human interaction and hard to model situations, then a professional can feel ill-equipped to provide viable responses.

This professional skills workshop offers an opportunity for you to explore this familiar environment, through the lens of the effects working on us and others in such situations, recognising these, providing practical approaches to analyse and then make informed decisions even when we feel poorly informed. We will also provide proven techniques on how to elicit information from others more effectively, model thinking, understand barriers that can occur, and tips on effective problem-solving in complex, messy situations.

Throughout the workshop, you will have the opportunity to work closely with the facilitator, Dr Deborah Goodwin OBE, and workshop colleagues. The day will be interactive and experiential so that you can then apply these techniques to your own professional context.

We look forward to you joining us. Places are limited so that your experience will be shaped closely to your needs, so please sign up as soon as possible.

Intended learning outcomes:

  • Examine use of data and information in complex and ambiguous professional contexts
  • Analyse what effects alter our perception of information, and how we then interpret these
  • Focus on cognitive biases that affect important decision-making
  • Understand, explore and apply professional skill sets to improve professional decision-making in complex environments
  • Plan and assess second and third order effects of the decisions we make
  • Apply proven professional influence skill sets in order to improve our understanding and planning

This session has been designed as part of the European Commission funded project “Strategic Employer Engagement in Devon” which is supporting the development of a locally-responsive CPD offer in data science and analytics. Due to the limited number of space available we can only offer one space per company.

08.30 - Arrival and registration

09.00 - Welcome and introductions

09.15 - Session 1: the professional maelstrom: how we view, understand and select information in the human domain

10.30 - Break

11.30 - Session 2: improving our decision making, and persuading others to agree

12.30 - Lunch

13.00 - Team analysis and planning session

14.00 - Session 3: team interactive applied skills workshop: ' The Superwidget Problem'

16.00 - End of event

Deborah spent 25 years as an academic at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (1994-2019). As Head of the Communication and Applied Behavioural Science Department she had direct experience of Officer through life training, UOTCs, Reserves and Tri-Service education as well as Executive training. In addition, she devised new Modules for the Army Higher Education Pathway programme (Masters in Leadership and Strategic studies) launched in 2015. She was awarded an OBE in 2017 in recognition of her services to Armed Forces Training and work in Negotiation. In 2009 she was awarded a UN Commendation for her negotiation work in Cyprus.

Deborah has advised numerous organisations on improving techniques in thinking, problem-solving, decision-making and influencing. For several years she spoke at International Symposia for Operational Analysts. Her workshops there centred on revealing how we respond to complexity and others, and how SMEs can build their professional skillsets to handle more ambiguous situations, and people.

In September 2019, Deborah was invited to join the University of Exeter to create and launch new Postgraduate modules in Applied Skills in Negotiation and Applied Analytics. Exeter has bestowed an Honorary Associate Professor status on her. Her fuller biography can be found at:

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Please note filming, recording and photography may take place at this event.




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