Pointer to a site of Jeff Conklin’s. This is good for two reasons. One is that the work Jeff has done on applying technology tools to http://www.cognexus.org/id42.htm is important. Jeff was one of the early researchers to work in the broad area of hypertext that was the precursor to much of what we take for granted today on the web and elsewhere. Second because I had lost track of Jeff after having a chance to meet him back in about 1992 when I was with CGEY’s Center for Business Innovation.
Here’s the definition of a wicked problem:
A wicked problem is one for which each attempt to create a solution changes the understanding of the problem. Wicked problems cannot be solved in a traditional linear fashion, because the problem definition evolves as new possible solutions are considered and/or implemented.
Wicked problems always occur in a social context — the wickedness of the problem reflects the diversity among the stakeholders in the problem.
Most projects in organizations — and virtually all technology-related projects these days — are about wicked problems. Indeed, it is the social complexity of these problems, not their technical complexity, that overwhelms most current problem solving and project management approaches.
Go read the rest of the material for yourself. It’s worth the time.[McGee’s Musings]