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Submitted by Dr. Erwin Rooze on

The blog is correct in stating that when one identifies the symptoms rather than root causes as the problem, the risk is extremely high that one proposes the wrong solution. Since I earned my Ph.D. on the subject of formulating strategic problems, I can comfortably state that the blog should indeed have been about complex problem situations (which are complex but static) and wicked problem situations (which are complex and dynamic). Needless to say that a full quadrant also has the simple and static problematic situation, and the simple and dynamic problem situation. They all require different methodologies. In the blog the static dimension is depicted as the engineering types of problems (building a road / bridge) and the dynamic dimension as social types of problems. However, it is not by definition that an engineering type of problem is a complex/static problem, and a social type of problem is a wicked (complex/dynamic) problem. I believe you are absolutely correct that when dealing with wicked problems one should interact intensively with the changing problem situation and use an approach driven by experimentation, learning, and adaptation. The words used suggest an evolutionary approach. This is at least the notion I used in my Ph.D. research. We must however not forget that lately the notion of “super wicked” problems was invented for problems like climate change, since they have a number of additional features that make them harder to address: (a) Time is running out; (b) There is no central authority; (c) Those seeking to solve the problem are also causing it; (d) Policies seem to discount the future irrationally (see Levin, Kelly; Cashore, Benjamin; Bernstein, Steven; Auld, Graeme (23 May 2012). "Overcoming the tragedy of super wicked problems: constraining our future selves to ameliorate global climate change". Policy Sciences 45 (2): 123–152). One of the pressing questions is if they ca n be dealt with by just "muddling through" (Lindblom) or need a grand solution design as well."

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