Iimagine Strategy

‘Wicked Problems’ – Problems Worth Solving


‘Wicked Problems’ – Problems Worth Solving – by Design

“A Wicked Problem is a problem that is difficult or impossible to solve because of incomplete, contradictory, and changing requirements that are often difficult to recognise. The use of the term ‘wicked’ in this context has come to denote resistance to resolution rather than evil.” Moreover, because of complex interdependencies, the effort to slove one aspect of a wicked problem may reveal or create other problems. Many of the worlds problems and issues appear truly insurmountable for which there is little or no chance of a workable solution resulting in overtly positive outcomes. These problems may be of an all encompassing, global nature affecting all of humanity such as climate change and growing global economic disparity or of a more specific and localised nature such as abnormally high rates of infant mortality in Nepal or species threatening fatal diseases in Tasmanian Devil populations.

By completely re-imagining, thinking about and approaching these types of highly complex ‘wicked’ problems from uniquely different perspectives it has been found time and time again that seeming impossible solutions are possible. By applying the concepts and principles underpinning ‘Design Thinking’ and ‘Creative Innovation’ these are many case studies and examples of wicked problems either being fully or partially solved in their generally perceived forms or solved by creatively repositioning the problem and a solution so that the problem can be solved. Look at the world renown design thinking and innovation organisation IDEO for some live examples – www.ideo.com and www.ideo.org

When a problem just seems to complex and difficult to solve, think creatively. How would a five year old understand the problem? And begin to design your solution from there. You may just be surprised!


Core Concepts and Ideas –¬†Reading and Materials

Wicked Problem Articles

Strategy as a Wicked Problem.HBR

The $300 House_ A Hands-On Approach to a Wicked Problem.HBR

The Wickedness Behind Most 21st-Century Leadership Failure.HBR

You Say You Want Impact




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