Corporate innovation and wicked problems
Of breeders and tamers.
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:
- You don’t understand the problem until you have developed a solution.
- Wicked problems have no stopping rule.
- Solutions to wicked problems are not right or wrong.
- Every wicked problem is essentially unique and novel.
- Every solution to a wicked problem is a ‘one-shot operation.’
- 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.
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