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Starting early: pupils tackle problem solving

Author: Oliver Jobson

Unipart Group have a strong record in supporting their local community and have won many awards to recognise this - most recently we were awarded Platinum Status by Business in the Community. As part of our activities I recently held what was more than likely my toughest training session since working for Unipart!

The group were loud, unruly and they said exactly what they thought! This was a group of 26, 10 year olds from a local Oxford primary school and I was tasked with holding a session on problem solving with them.

The four hour workshop took them through all the steps of the Unipart problem solving circle; defining a problem statement through root cause analysis, understanding the options and making actions for a solution. Although we had to simplify some of the content the core concept remained the same as our internal approach.

What was really interesting to see was how quickly some of the kids picked up the method and the idea of problem solving in groups to use combined brainpower. The problem that we used was designed to be something that will be encountered every day by primary school children, an argument - interestingly a lot of the groups found some common root causes ranging from jealousy to selfishness.

We split the classes into groups of six and there quickly appeared a real mix of aptitude when it came to working in a team. While some of the kids found working in groups difficult, to others it came naturally, which goes to show that team working is a skill that needs to be developed and the more that we can do at a young age the easier it will be when people move into a career.

The solutions that were suggested did range in terms of quality but the capacity that the kids had for thinking outside the box was very impressive, and we definitely saw a real benefit to encouraging team working skills. Leading a session in this environment has definitely given me a real understanding of the tough job that primary school teachers have, and the amount of work that they put into providing education, opportunities and support to their pupils.

Gavin Lochhead is a Unipart Way Manager for Unipart Expert Practices who works both internally and externally with clients. He can often be found hiking a mountain, running a marathon or something equally courageous such as blogging, tweeting or updating his LinkedIn.

The Unipart Way: performance improvement that sustains

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