Rotman School of Management

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Wicked Problems I, II, III

Rotman Management’s ‘Wicked Problems’ series looks at the mindsets and tools involved in tackling issues that cannot be resolved by traditional problem-solving processes. As indicated in these volumes, wicked problems call for us to harness all of the creativity and knowledge at our disposal to shape our organizations—and the world—for the better.

When UC Berkeley design theorists Horst Rittel and Melvin Webber coined the term ‘wicked problem’ back in 1973, they could not have foreseen how poignant it would become for 21st century leaders. ‘Wickedness’, they argued, does not pertain to a degree of difficulty; wicked problems are different because traditional problem-solving processes cannot resolve them. Unlike ‘tame’ problems—which can be irrefutably solved—wicked problems are messy and reactive, and there is no single solution. Indeed, defining the parameters of the problem itself is often half the challenge. If any of this sounds familiar, it’s because so many of the problems we face today fall into the wicked category. This bundle of three issues of Rotman Management on the theme of ‘Wicked Problems’ looks at the mindsets and tools involved in tackling these problems.

This special collection of Rotman Management issues includes:

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Wicked Problems III (Winter 2015)

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With contributions from Tim Brown, Matthew May, Anita McGahan, John Camillus, Jane Fulton Suri, Frank Spencer, Roger Martin, and more.
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