How to identify a wicked (read complex) problem

Posted by  Shawn Callahan —April 22, 2005
Filed in Communication

Bill Godfrey has found, what I think is, a good list to help know whether you are dealing with a wicked (ie. complex) problem:

  • The problem definition seems vague or keeps changing.
  • The proposed solution creates a new, related problem.
  • There are lots of meetings on the project but not much progress.
  • There are a lot of “cooks” in the kitchen.
  • The number of stakeholders keep increasing.
  • Your career is at stake.
  • You can’t easily see the solution at the outset.
  • There are multiple solutions, but no consensus and no convergence.
  • The constraints on the solution keep changing.
  • There are lots of political or “organizational” issues.
  • The decision was already made, but it’s not being followed (i.e. it’s not a real decision).

About  Shawn Callahan

Shawn, author of Putting Stories to Work, is one of the world's leading business storytelling consultants. He helps executive teams find and tell the story of their strategy. When he is not working on strategy communication, Shawn is helping leaders find and tell business stories to engage, to influence and to inspire. Shawn works with Global 1000 companies including Shell, IBM, SAP, Bayer, Microsoft & Danone. Connect with Shawn on:

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