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kepner & Fourie
Kepner and Fourie® Thinking Works: Problem Solving & Decision Making in Collaboration
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Suitable Situations
When employees in the company would encounter challening and complicated problems or projects that they have not experienced before, if they are not clear about the situation and can’t see things through, they would worry about what to start with......

Course Orientation
The course will help your team members define and prioritize problems, analyze core problems, clarify requirements, identify solutions, foresee risks, refine solutions, and finally solve problems or improve performance successfully.

Target Audience
All managers and technical professionals who need solve complex business through collaboration

Course Duration

Course Objective
Skill improvement
● Learn to think systematically about different problems in various scenario, analyze and solve problem step by step in well-organized manner
● Facilitate and promote collaboration in direction of problem-solving when different opinions and requirements are heard
● Deal with problems and challenges with flexibility and high efficiency, feel very confident even if the problems they encounter are beyond their professional scope, their experience or their existing capabilities
● Learn to collect information with value, and analyze the collected information effectively
● Discover the best solution or find the root cause within short period of time
● Reduce the cost of problem-solving remarkably, increase the stakeholder satisfaction ratio and improve collaboration among them
● Improve decision-making quality to ensure the decisions made being scientific and accurate, instead of being discretionary or subjective.

Mindsets are changed
● Understand the importance of stakeholders in problem solving, and will take initiative to find other parties concerned to solve problem, instead of having the problems handled single-handedly behind closed doors
● Understand their positions and roles in problem-solving, take their due responsibility pro-actively within the achievable scope of their capability, avoid complaining about the objective situations, nor passing the buck
● Jump out of established experience or thoughts to explore solutions in a broader scope

Question: do we need to use our brain at work?
Yes, and no. and most of time, it’s not necessary.
Why? Because the things we do everyday at work has become daily routine, and we can do things “smoothly” by relying on our past experience and subconsciousness.
We must use our brain only in 3 circumstances: when we come across new problems, complicated problems, and problems with serious consequence.
But when we do need use our brain to solve problems with consciousness, we only find that our brain is not workable……
Because this is not what we are used to; and because we seldom receive training on analyzing and thinking. It will be even more depressing when we need sit down together with many people to analyze and discuss problems. At that time, we come to aware that the “problem-solving” trainings we received in the past are actually trainings on professional competence and experience, and in very rare cases we received training on thinking capability.
This is a program on thinking ability, helping you to cope with complicated problems with ease, improve your leadership skills and influencing power when working with other people for problem-solving, and in the end, helping you to develop the right and professional working habits

Features of Course
● This is one of the most realistic program with application value, directly linking theory with practice:
  ■ The participants share the challenges they have at real-life workplace, analyze and solve the problems in KF approaches on the site
  ■ Classroom is where learning is applied. When talking about practical problems, the participants realized intuitively the mistakes they made when solving problems individually or with their team, and by applying the learned methods, the participants will understand the realistic value and actual results that KF approaches will bring them.
● The participants discuss about real-life examples in the classroom:
  ■ In an Electrical Equipment company: R&D department and Production Department do not cooperate well, and the sales and clients have been affected
  ■ In a Household Necessities manufacturing company: turn-over rate of first line workers is high, and recruitment is difficult
  ■ In a large-scale food corporation: the Head Quarter is thinking to leverage the resource in various subsidiary businesses, so as to build up market competitive advantage, but the subsidiary businesses would not support. As the result, the integration policy can not be implemented.
  ■ In a pharmaceutical company: sales department complains that marketing support is inadequate, while marketing department thinks that the resource is enough, but the sales department does not make use of the resource properly.
  ■ In a electronic manufacturing company: customer demands is not stable so that it’s difficult to do production planning
  ■ In a Household Necessities trade company: online sales volume increases rapidly, and results in conflict with sales via traditional channels
  ■ ……

After a great deal of research, experts headed by Dr. Charles H. Kepner have summed up the effective thinking procedures that human beings apply in the process of problem-analyzing and decision making. Any common people can master the scientific effective ways of thinking through proper training, so that they will analyze problems effectively like a problem-solving master, improve the quality of problem solving and decision making dramatically, and in the meanwhile, by making use of these thinking procedures, facilitate various opinions to reach consensus, and put group wisdom into full display effectively.

From the rising of a problem to the solving of the problem, it is a step-by-step thinking process: firstly analyze, and then make decisions
Analyzing stage - have a clear over-view, understand the core of the problem, and find the root cause. Through analysis, one can figure out the right direction for decision making. If the analysis has mistakes, the action plan that follows up, no matter how perfect it is designed, will end in nowhere desired.
Decision-making stage – based on the conclusion of analyzing stage, decide what to do next, and evaluate the feasibility of the action plan.
Analysis and decision making with high quality need clear and well-organized thinking
Analysis and decision making with high quality also need the ability to solicit the wisdom of many people, and coordinate the interest of various stakeholders
Since each has different perspectives and ideas of benefit, the stakeholders have quite different ideas and demands. The more complicated the problem is, the more obviously that each party will have different opinions. If the disagreements are not coped with properly, or the information and perspectives from various parties are not taken into consideration well, as the consequence, judgment and decision-making will be affected, and the implementation in future and the final results will be hindered as well. Therefore, at analysis and decision-making stages, it’s not enough for one to have scientific and systematic thinking; moreover, one should have the ability to take in group wisdom, coordinate the interest of different parties, and facilitate consensus.
The program of Kepner and Fourie® Thinking Works provides a serious of tools that can help us at different stages for analysis and decision making. On the one hand, we can develop clear and systematic thinking, and on the other hand, we will coordinate people’s wisdom and interest, and facilitate stakeholder collaboration.

Introduction of the toolkits in Kepner and Fourie® Thinking Works
Analyzing Stage
In accordance with the features of problems and the different objective conditions of the moment, Kepner and Fourie® Thinking Works provides three analyzing modes: Priority Wise®, Thinking Wise®, and Cause Wise®.

Priority Wise®
● Transform the vague understanding to the problem into specific description, and view the situation of the problem comprehensively
● Break down problems quickly and effectively, and decompose the issues in reality into a series of specific issues or problems that can be managed
● Understand the real need of different parties behind their preferred choices, balance between different choices of directions, and confirm the issues to be handled with priority
Benefit for participants at this stage
● Understand the importance of stakeholders in problem-solving, learn to collect information from various parties pro-actively, and avoid the blind areas of individual thinking
● Learn to facilitate problem-solving quickly under time pressure
● Learn to set standard to balance the priority conflicts among different parties

Thinking Wise®
● Collect specific information to get insightful understanding of the causes/effects and trends of problem situations
● Facilitate stakeholders to achieve consistent understanding of development trends of problems, and correctly capture the core issue
● Identify more possibility of problem-solving and keep an eye on the right focus
Benefit for participants at this stage
● Learn to consolidate the viewpoints of different parties, and grasp the real essential relation of problems
● Learn to jump out of established framework and view the problems, so as to solve problems with creativity
● Learn to take responsibility pro-actively within the achievable scope of capability, rather than complaining about objective factors

Cause Wise®
● Aiming at problems of abrupt deviation, identify root cause of deviation quickly
● 3-step method to identify problems accurately
● Collect valuable information and make rational reasoning from 7 dimensions to avoid being misled by surface problems
● Quickly test and verify the results of reasoning to reduce the cost and risk of blind trial in reality
Benefit for participants at this stage
● Learn the inquiring skills to quickly collect effective information under time pressure
● Learn to instruct professional staff for problem-solving in the fields that you are not a professional
● Learn to avoid misunderstanding out of first impressions, and deduce conclusion through hierarchical comparison method

Decision-making stage
Kepner and Fourie® Thinking Works applies two tools - Solution Wise® and Check Your Thinking™ - to ensure accuracy and efficiency at decision-making stage.

Solution Wise®
● Conduct full - range mining of stakeholders’ requirements and latent needs
● Objectively evaluate the preliminary schemes proposed by different parties, or directly create a new scheme according to the requirements
● Consolidate wisdom from different parties and conduct targeted optimization of the schemes
● Select solution scheme according to the minimum standard and maximum benefits
Benefit for participants at this stage
● Learn the questioning skills to understand the real needs of different parties accurately and comprehensively
● Learn to differentiate the real needs of different stakeholders from their apparent wants
● Learn to create optimal solution on the basis of alternative solutions available, and secure stakeholder support for the final solution scheme

Check Your Thinking™
● Analyze risk areas and identify specific risks
● Make prevention programs and precaution plans for possible risks
● Analyze possible additional opportunities brought about by the scheme
● Determine the advocacy plan and the utilization plan for the possible opportunities
Benefit for participants at this stage
● Learn to improve the decisiveness of decision-making through risk examination, and obtain confidence from stakeholders in the security of the scheme
● Learn to increase the value of the scheme by examining the extra benefits, and seek more support from more related parties
By using the above well-organized step-by-step thinking process, we can make clear analysis of complex problem step by step, implement specific action plan step by step, and ensure that the problem is resolved eventually.


Dr. Charles H. Kepner is a globally recognized master in problem solving and decision making, and he is the creator of this discipline.
Dr. Kepner once worked as senior researcher with RAND – a well-known think-tank institute. In 1958, he left RAND and co-founded Kepner-Tregoe (KT) with Benjamin Tregoe. They focused on studying and developing processes and techniques on problem solving and decision making, and also started to train managers. In 1965, he wrote The Rational Manager which founded the discipline of problem solving. And several articles afterwards made the cornerstones of the discipline as well. He also developed the course: Analytical Trouble Shooting and wrote The NEW Rational Manager in 1979.
In 1983, he left KT to found Kepner Associates. In 1998, he joined Mat-thys Fourie's Thinking Dimensions International. He was the coauthor of Managing Beyond the Ordinary with Hirotsugu Iikubo and coauthor of Innovation: The FreeZone Thinking Experience with Mat-thys Fourie and Hirotsugu Iikubo, which is a classical book in innovation management field.

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