In my view, corporate innovation is a systemic challenge because every large enterprise consists of a multiple formal and informal sub-organisations, while overlapping and edging with a number of other organisations, communities, and ecosystems.

Further, I've experienced corporate innovation to be a breeding ground for wicked problems—i.e. problems with complex, interconnected, and dynamic causes that cannot be fully addressed or resolved.

Defining characteristics* of such problems are:

  1. You don’t understand the problem until you have developed a solution.
  2. Wicked problems have no stopping rule.
  3. Solutions to wicked problems are not right or wrong.
  4. Every wicked problem is essentially unique and novel.
  5. Every solution to a wicked problem is a ‘one-shot operation.’
  6. Wicked problems have no given alternative solutions.

Above are best tackled in a collaborative and iterative manner, learning fast and adjusting direction as needed. Wicked problems can be tamed, as long as you know how.

*Conklin, E. J. (2008). Wicked Problems & Social Complexity. CogNexus Group.