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It’s time to solve it, Australia!

18 April 2019 at 7:30 am
Got a complex problem? Get the training, tools and potentially even the funding you need to tackle it, writes Jessica Roth, director of Social Impact Hub.

Contributor | 18 April 2019 at 7:30 am


It’s time to solve it, Australia!
18 April 2019 at 7:30 am

Got a complex problem? Get the training, tools and potentially even the funding you need to tackle it, writes Jessica Roth, director of Social Impact Hub.

From obesity to environmental degradation to Indigenous disadvantage, Australia is grappling with countless seemingly intractable social and environmental problems. The scope and complexity of these problems require innovative, comprehensive solutions.

The Australian social sector has a vital role to play in tackling these problems, but doing so requires the sector to be better equipped with the proper skills, tools and resources. Indeed, the World Economic Forum has identified complex problem-solving as the key skill required of organisations in the 21st century.

This is why the Social Impact Hub and strategic partner Philanthropy Australia have launched Solve It, Australia! – an innovative capacity building initiative that will significantly enhance the social sector’s ability to tackle complex problems.

Solve It, Australia! will present a complex problem-solving skills masterclass and, in the months following the masterclass, there will be an innovative funding opportunity that includes a pool of $900,000 of capacity building funds from the Paul Ramsay Foundation.

Solve It, Australia! is part of the Social Impact Hub’s Funding for Impact thought leadership project, which aims to help charities and not for profits increasingly achieve impact and scale.

The masterclass

The masterclass is a rare opportunity for the sector to access high quality problem solving skills training. It will be taught by Rob McLean AM, former McKinsey & Company managing director and co-author of the book Bulletproof Problem Solving: The One Skill That Changes Everything, published by Wiley in 2019.

As a member of the Policy and Research Council of Philanthropy Australia, chair of The Nature Conservancy Australia board, board member of the Paul Ramsay Foundation and founding chair of Social Ventures Australia, McLean not only brings a deep expertise in complex problem solving but also an in-depth understanding of the unique challenges faced by not for profits and philanthropists in solving our social and environmental problems.

“The masterclass will teach the seven step Bulletproof Problem Solving framework, a systematic approach to problem solving that can be used by anyone to solve any problem, including the so-called ‘wicked’ problems that we need to tackle,” McLean says.

“Australia needs excellent problem solvers, and this approach can help you become one of them.”

The masterclass will also explore four case studies that demonstrate how the framework can be applied to complex social and environmental problems, both local and global.

Guest speakers (either in person or via video) sharing practical insights on these case studies include:

  • Ashok Alexander who will share his experience leading Avahan in India, the world’s largest private HIV prevention program funded by the Gates Foundation;  
  • Professor Sally Cripps who will speak in Sydney about conducting critical analyses on the complex problem of air quality and health;  
  • Professor Louise Baur who will share her work addressing childhood obesity in Australia;
  • Aileen Lee who will speak about her work funding initiatives to address the overfishing of salmon in the Pacific; and
  • Michele Goldman who will speak in Melbourne about her work at Asthma Australia to address the high incidence and severity of asthma.

The masterclass will be hosted by Perpetual on 2 May in Sydney and by NAB on 24 May in Melbourne.

It is open to organisations of all kinds, including not for profits, foundations, businesses and government agencies as well as individuals who are looking to hone their problem solving effectiveness and efficiency.

All tickets to the masterclass include a copy of the Bulletproof Problem Solving book co-authored by McLean.

The funding opportunity

Solve It, Australia! is proudly collaborating with the Paul Ramsay Foundation on an exciting funding opportunity where organisations selected to participate in a capacity building workshop will have the chance to share a funding pool of $900,000.

To be eligible for this opportunity, you must have attended the masterclass and be working on a complex problem that aligns with the Paul Ramsay Foundation’s mission of identifying the root causes of disadvantage and implementing strategic solutions to empower our community.

There is no restriction on the type or size of the organisation or its tax status and, if chosen, the organisation can spend the money as it sees best to test its hypotheses and further develop its solution.

Additional support for implementation of the proposed solution may be available from the Paul Ramsay Foundation following the development period.

The details of this opportunity will be announced by the foundation at the masterclass – including the incredibly exciting and innovative peer review approach that will be used to select the funding recipients.

In conclusion, the solutions to significant, complex problems need to account for the multiple causes of the problems, numerous externalities as well as the fact that the solutions will often require behaviour change and may themselves have unintended consequences. It is more important than ever before for individuals and organisations in the social and environmental sectors to be effective and efficient complex problem solvers.

Learn more and register:

For more information and to register for Solve It, Australia! go to

Early bird tickets are available until 18 April.

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