Solving Complex Problems- Coursera Review

Our thoughts on the Coursera course about solving complex problems

As any entrepreneur should be aware the biggest problems are often the biggest opportunities. So this review focuses on a course designed to develop your problem solving skills. 

Link: Solving Complex Problems

PRICE: £30 a month

Duration: 6 weeks(up to 3hrs a week)


Upon first signing up for this course I must admit I was very optimistic and expected to learn a lot. Although the subject was quite broad any opportunity to improve my problem solving skills is something I relish. However in all honesty I never made it to the end of the course. I found the parts I completed mildly interesting but most of the information is covered in more depth elsewhere.

The information in each section did not seem to match with the titles and there was a distinct lack of order. The course is focuses on how we have solved problems throughout history and the different schools of thought. However instead of using examples or techniques to solve problems it was more an overview of how reason and logic have developed over time across academic disciplines. There was little practical advice on tackling complex problems or designing novel solutions.

On the whole it was more of a general interest course which did not suit my current goals. At this point I am trying to develop practical skills rather than building more knowledge. I am currently trying to break out of the cycle of endlessly consuming new information without putting anything into action. For this reason I felt the course was just another opportunity for intellectual procrastination. In hindsight I should have considered this before starting but I still found the material disappointing. 


Coursera has recently switched to a new pricing model charging £30 a month. This course is split into four sections each lasting around 6 weeks and so would end up costing around £120 to complete. I felt the time and financial investment required would be better spent elsewhere. If you are looking to broaden your horizons and understand more about human history I feel there are better alternatives. The TED talk that the course instructor has done in the past was very interesting and if you enjoyed that you may also want to read A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking. 

In future I think I will only use Coursera for subjects where I want to gain a theoretical understanding. For example the courses on robotics and coding are more suited to the style of Coursera’s teaching.  I think the title of the course is slightly misleading and offers a limited resource for anyone trying to solve complex problems.

Avoid the Noise Key Takeaways

  • A good knowledge of history can provide inspiration for new problem solving methods
  • In order to solve a problem you need a good understanding of all the factors that have created the current situation

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