Bolstering resilience and reducing risk: CIWEM debuts 2nd edition of Advanced Problem Solving Course

This month we celebrate our fourth year of partnership with Sologic, global specialists in Root Cause Analysis by delivering another highly anticipated installation of the ‘Advanced Problem Solving’ course to WEM professionals and the wider industry.

Some years ago CIWEM recognised that there was demand for an industry-centred course that would combine elements of problem-solving, critical thinking and systems theory in order to tackle the many issues affecting our sector.

So, in early 2017 we sat down with the Sologic team to design a structured problem-solving course that would meet the needs of the scientists, engineers and operations professionals working in the water and environmental sectors. The ‘Advanced Problem Solving’ course was born as a result.

Despite the progress of years, and the changing shape of the WEM industry, the course continues to help our members ‘Solve Problems, Reduce Risk and Improve Performance’.

Originally delivered solely face-to-face, the course has evolved in line with the challenges the entire world has faced and the outcomes have been as positive as ever.

As an independent charity, CIWEM champions professional standards, impartiality and the use of scientific evidence. No more so than in the problems our members have to solve.

The Advanced Problem Solving Course reflects this goal by helping our professionals understand how people, systems, processes and the environment interact, resulting in the risk, failure and near-miss events we need to address.

If we can understand these problems to the level of detail they demand and then apply targeted solutions that address them we can make our industry safer, cleaner and more resilient.

The RCA method is evidence-based, visible and transferable across disciplines. This means that when events effect multiple systems within our businesses we’re in a stronger position to react, respond and recover. As Ofwat states:

‘Water companies typically have a good understanding of individual operational systems. But companies will need to adopt a more truly integrated view taking account of the interactions between disparate areas of their business.’

When processes break down, behaviours fall short or products fail we need a method that will ensure that our people have the time, techniques and tools required to understand what happened, why it happened and precisely what they can do to reduce the risk of recurrence. In short companies need to adopt a structured approach to problem solving, a process that is scalable, adaptable and incremental. This requires an effective and engaging process that will contribute to measurable results alongside institutional and sector-wide learning.

Benefits of CIWEM’s Advanced Problem Solving course:

• Learn what makes an effective problem-solving team
• Understand how to gather, manage and evaluate evidence
• Expertly define a problem and its direct and indirect impacts
• Reveal the interaction between people, systems, processes and the environment
• Master techniques in industry-leading visual analysis
• Improve your ability to generate and evaluate high-quality solutions
• Efficiently build and share outstanding RCA reports

CIWEM head of learning and development Darren Eckford says: “The great strength of this partnership is that the team at Sologic tailor the content delivery to our delegates, but deliberately ensure many of the examples and case studies are industry neutral. This ensures delegates assess them with fresh eyes and reduces the everyday assumptions and biases we regularly apply to our workplace challenges.

“This approach to structured problem solving alongside Sologic’s Causelink RCA software really does help delegates get right to the root causes of issues, rather than being locked into a cycle of frustrating fire-fighting activities.”

Client feedback corroborates this premise. A recent delegate from Severn Trent Water said:

“I am a senior wastewater process scientist at Severn Trent Water and this learning helps me with investigating sample failures, understanding the real root causes and driving change and improvement to reduce or eliminate the risk of failures happening again.

"Despite having experience in RCA analysis (self-taught, and used on a regular basis) I found the training valuable to evaluating and confirming what I already knew as well as adding a lot more useful and insightful elements of RCA that I wasn’t aware of. I’ve been able to use my learning since the training and felt the overall investigation quality was better than previous ones.”

If you would like to attend the forthcoming CIWEM/Sologic course or would like to discuss in-house training or simply know more about this course please visit or email CIWEMLearning on

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