Wicked Problems

When I started learning about what “wicked problems” were I had no idea what it meant nor had I ever even heard of it. I had figured it was just a bad problem. After the first day of class I thought I had a pretty decent understanding of what it meant. But after every class I was learning more and more about how different a wicked problem was from a regular problem. It is so much more multifaceted. Learning the surface level of what a wicked problem was was not enough to make me become really interested in learning more. As far as I knew I just thought it was an issue you would consider a little worse than the rest. I did not realize it was capable of making me feel something about it or to get me really intrigued or thinking. Once I had heard a bit more about what makes a wicked problem different from the rest, I began to get more curious about it. I had learned it was an issue causing multiple different problems for multiple different people. How individuals had identified there was a problem, but could not agree on what the problem might be. I learned because of that, people obviously would not be able to agree on a solution if they could even think of one. This idea was the first that had really hit me when learning about wicked problems. I had never really processed that even though everyone knew there was a problem, they might not have the same problem. I realized that if a wicked problem was affecting you, it would be so discouraging to think of how hard it would be to resolve the issue because of how differently other people may see it. This would strongly affect the ability to resolve a problem proving how even more wicked it is. As someone who is always trying to see the bright side of things and is hopeful in most situations, it was hard for me to grasp that a wicked problem could have no end solution in sight. To think that some problems could never truly be fixed was crazy to me. Even if there seems to be a solution, that solution could cause a new problem and the solution to that problem could cause another problem and so on. That was something that really made me logically realize how bad a wicked problem can be. The solution will have to constantly be adapted in hopes to solve every arising problem. Because it feels like the problem will never fully go away. I thought that was as bad as a wicked problem could get but I was wrong. It has so many layers that make it what it is. I learned that even solutions to these problems could cause irreversible effects which, to me, makes it feel like such a step backwards. You may not know the true effectiveness of a solution until it stops fixing and starts hurting. Wicked problems require unique solutions. This is because it is trying to fix a unique problem. I had never thought of what I would consider a solution or problem unique. This makes things difficult because there might be multiple solutions needed at once which seems very overwhelming. Or we might not even fully understand the problem, causing people to come up with a solution for something we can not exactly pinpoint. What is scary about a wicked problem is if we do not act and make changes urgently things could become irreversible or fatal. That makes you really think about how putting off and ignoring problems is not only not gonna fix things but make it entirely worse. A huge wicked problem we discuss is climate change. Climate change is seen so differently to so many people. Everyone thinks there is a different solution to the issue. It feels like such a large problem that there is never going to be any end solution. It is an overwhelming issue for people who really want to resolve this wicked problem. There are so many layers to the problem of climate change you start to wonder if it will ever be able to be fixed. That is what makes it so wicked. It is crazy once you realize that something going on right now could almost ruin our world. And you look at all the things that make this a wicked problem and think how far we are from solving it. Sustainability is a huge thing we have discussed relating to wicked problems. It plays a big role in the wellbeing of our planet therefore relating to climate change. Taking actions towards a more sustainable world is a solution for this issue. But it in itself is a wicked problem. It too has so many layers with problems and solutions. Knowing this makes you feel like it is pointless to try and fix it sometimes. Wicked problems are difficult for everyone to agree on a precise definition of the problem. They have various solutions that have been proposed that not everyone can agree on just one. These different solutions have to be adapted to specific situations to be effective. We cannot easily see an end to a problem and solutions can cause unintended consequences or cascading effects. These solutions would have to be continually adapted to be effective. Implementing some solutions could cause irreversible changes in the system that later may become problematic. It is sometimes difficult to verify the effectiveness of the various solutions beforehand. Some solutions might work in one place and not the other so it is difficult for us to implement just one solution that would work for everyone, everywhere, in all cases. Which makes a wicked problem unique. If we fail to act it could result in fatal consequences to humans and/or environmental systems. This is why we sometimes must move on with some solution before we may fully understand the problem. Learning what wicked problems are and the ones that are relevant right now makes you really think about if they can be fixed. 

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