Comment 53239

By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted December 17, 2010 at 11:04:42

(Please forgive my lack of pithiness, but I believe the greater discussion here...going well beyond the merits and pitfalls of LRT...warrants some non-linear thinking.)

Yesterday, I was referred to 'Wicked Problems and Social Complexity'.

As well as a general bit backgrounding W.J. Rittel and the concept of 'wicked problems'.

-Simple problems (problems which are already defined) are easy to solve, because defining a problem inherently defines a solution.

-The definition of a problem is subjective; it comes from a point of view. Thus, when defining problems, all stake-holders, experts, and designers are equally knowledgeable (or unknowledgeable).

-Some problems cannot be solved, because stake-holders cannot agree on the definition. These problems are called wicked, but sometimes they can be tamed.

-Solving simple problems may lead to improvement—but not innovation. For innovation, we need to re-frame wicked problems.

-Because one person cannot possibly remember or keep track of all the variables (of both existing and desired states) in a wicked problem, taming wicked problems requires many people.

-These people have to talk to each other; they have to deliberate; they have to argue.

-To tame a wicked problem, they have to agree on goals and actions for reaching them. This requires knowledge about actions, not just facts.

-Science is concerned with factual knowledge (what-is); design is concerned with instrumental knowledge (how what-is relates to what-ought-to-be), how actions can meet goals.

-The process of argumentation is the key and perhaps the only method of taming wicked problems.

-This process is political.

-Design is political.

Having noted this (fodder itself for some potentially great discussions), I have to say that what worries me is the usual tendency to have discussions get conflated with others...even though some of the essential elements of each are germane to all. The risk when in having one viewpoint stomped on, others tend to suffer ill-effects, too.

From my standpoint, we have discussions on:


-One-way streets

-Making cities more livable, more humane by focusing on pedestrian activity

Attached to these:

-The calcification of the grip on the status-quo

-Defining what would make Hamilton 'better to live in'

-A general 'can't do, won't ever get better' attitude. (Most often found by those who seem to have nothing at stake in the core of Hamilton pulling itself out of its morass.)

No, I'm not providing any answers here, nor am I really putting forth any focused opinions. Just a heartfelt desire that we find ways to continue the dialogue...keeping in mind the point offered previously: "Some problems cannot be solved, because stake-holders cannot agree on the definition. These problems are called wicked, but sometimes they can be tamed."

(Additional apologies for formatting problems.)

Comment edited by mystoneycreek on 2010-12-17 10:07:19

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