Wickedness, complexity and the Man-Machine age

Rittel and Webber coined the concept of ‘wicked problems’ in 1973. This foreshadowed the more popular notion of ‘VUCA’ issues and the IBM concept of Cynefin, which have come to the fore in recent times. The term VUCA stands for problems and opportunities that are Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous in nature. These do not lend themselves to simple solutions, indeed many VUCA issues are insoluble in so far as they can only be resolved rather than solved. We have been seduced with problem-solution thinking in a non-stop world and this is alluring for simple problems where there is no need to consider knock-on consequences of the solutions and where the consideration of options ...

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