I’ve just been reading about wicked problems and I’m struck by the similarities between the characteristics of a complex system and how Rittel and Webber defined a wicked problem back in 1973. Jeff Conklin nicely summarises wicked problems as follows:
until you have developed a solution
And here is how I’ve roughly paraphrased Paul Cilliers description of complex systems:
It is interesting that these two perspectives don’t make much reference to each other. While there is mention of social complexity in Jeff’s work, there is little said about complex systems from a complexity science perspective. On the other side I’ve never seen wicked problems or Rittel and Webber mentioned in the complex adaptive systems literature.
Rittel, H. & Webber, M. 1973. Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning. Policy Sciences, 4: 155-169.
Cilliers, P. 1998. Complexity & Postmodernism. London: Routledge.
Conklin, J.; Wicked Problems and Social Complexity; http://cognexus.org/wpf/wickedproblems.pdf; 25 January 2005.
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