For the love of Wicked Problems

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Wikipedia says a wicked problem is a problem that is “difficult or impossible to solve because of incomplete, contradictory, and changing requirements that are often difficult to recognise”. The use of term “wicked” here has come to denote resistance to resolution, rather than evil.

You can’t know what you don’t know about what you need to know. So it’s still your fault. – Modern UX Designer’s conundrum As the Lean movement treads its certain path through the digital world, killing two-dimensional artefacts, trouncing on requirements specifications and making us all empowered and Agile, we might be sleepwalking into a bunch of very wicked problems.

You may not recognise wicked problems when they come up, but like a bad smell, they haunt you for a long time. Within the trifecta of money, time and capability, live any number of decisions needed to conceptualise, design and build large scale digital products and services. The need to balance these with getting something ‘shipped’ means we inherently make choices that have a significant impact on the challenges we face later down the line. Whether start-up or established business, you’re not protected from wicked problems.

In my talk, I want to explore:

  • What makes a problem wicked
  • The kinds of wicked problems we’re creating
  • The future problems we will need to address
  • Tips for tackling wicked problems

Presented at NUX in Manchester, UK, 2016.

Learn more about Lola Oyelayo.

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