a wicked problem

All levels of complexity exist in our world but more and more of our work deals with real complex problems (in which the relationship between cause and effect can only be perceived in retrospect), whether they be social, technological, or economic. Complex environments and problems are best addressed when we organize as networks, work to continuously develop emergent practices; and cooperate to advance our aspirations.

There is no normal anymore. What we thought was normal is going away. It is really different this time.

“Technology is not only driving down the price to do things. It is driving down the cost of labor to the point where many people may simply never find a job that pays a living wage.” – A Man With A Ph.D.

Standardized and repeatable work is getting automated and outsourced. But there is an infinite amount of complex and creative work to be done. We are just not organized very well to do it. This is the huge challenge we face. Working smarter is not an incremental thing, it’s how we are going to transform society so that most of us can be productive AND earn a living. The JOB is not the answer. Freelancing is not a blanket solution. We need to get really creative about how we work, because work gives meaning, not just compensation. Social business may be part of the solution but the challenge is much bigger than that. Richard Florida alludes to it with the notion of a widespread creative class.

Do you want a complex problem? Figure out how we are going to keep producing stuff and still give people ways to buy that stuff. Think about what will happen if we don’t address this complex, wicked problem.

7 thoughts on “a wicked problem”

  1. Harold
    Thank you for an other interesting post! I’d like to share with you a quote that I picked up a few days ago from Dan Pontefract: @dpontefract
    “our organizations are built on 19th century learning styles, coupled by 20th century leadership models fused with 21st century technology”
    This is not a dichotomy but rather a trichotomy right?
    Regards from Hamburg Germany

  2. Let me start with the wicked problem. Our current economy is based on consumption (the creation and consumption of goods in exchange for money which represents status, purchase power, and the future ability to be part of society). However, as we move away from a goods based economy, as machines take the place of human output, we have a problem in that goods are not needed, consumption of all of the output of goods is not possible, and the distribution of wealth is now a known (whereas before ITC it may be written about and known on a local scale, but not realized to the extent).

    So the real wicked problem is how do we transition into a new structure of the economy in which the majority of people are able to work (not just to produce or to gain income, but to create a feeling a belonging), there is an equitable distribution of resources (goods, commodities, capital, social, and knowledge), and multiple values are aligned (while at the same time accepting of differences)? How do we ensure that individuals are able to be part of a community (virtual and/or physical) and do not feel disempowered, discriminated against, or entitled without responsibility?

    Often, wicked problems need to be reframed (in a number of ways) to be solved creatively.


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