Not Your Average Problem

We are surrounded by wicked problems. There are local ones (traffic, waste management) national ones (poverty) and global ones (climate change). But what makes these so intractable?

Many researchers have studied these kinds of problems in order to understand them better. In 2008, two US-based researchers, Edward P. Weber and Anne M. Khademian, came up with a list of common characteristics, describing wicked problems as “unstructured, cross cutting and relentless.”

In this issue of Viewpoint, we explore three wicked problems and the variables involved complex stakeholder dynamics, the challenge of modifying ingrained attitudes, and gaps between perception and reality, to name the main ones. There is also an honest assessment of media’s performance in reporting on these problems, based on conversations with multiple journalists.

Having looked more closely at the anatomy of these problems, we can only conclude (in the words of one of our contributors) that they are ‘’wicked but not impossible”.
More power to that optimistic view!