Lookie Loo: Do you have Wicked Problems?

Frog Design’s Creative Director, Adam Richardson, will be releasing his new book Innovation X:  Why a Company’s Toughest Problems Are Its Greatest Advantage next month.  It’s rare for me to pre-order a book, but I  just finished reading the first chapter, which is available for download and I’m definitely intrigued enough to order it.

Richardson introduces a term developed by urban planners Horst Wittel and Melvin Webber:  wicked problems.

I can’t wait to say, “This is a wicked problem,” in a meeting and then go on to explain that I’m not just using a trendy catch phrase.

A ‘wicked problem’ according to Richardson occurs when neither the problem nor the solution is known.  I’ve always referred to this experience as throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks.  ‘Wicked problem’ is much more elegant, though I think my analogy offers a more interesting visual.

Of course Richardson has to go a step further and illustrate how a ‘wicked problem’ doesn’t work as well in the world of business as it does in urban planning.  He coins the term “X-problem” and ta-da a book title is born!

The first chapter is an easy read and nice summary of the challenges businesses face today.  I hope the future chapters, which are supposed to tell you how to deal with X-problems are as engaging as the first!

What are your wicked problems?

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