Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

The wicked problems

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Horst W.J. Rittel

1. There is no definitive formulation of a wicked problem.
2. Wicked problems have no stopping rule.
3. Solutions to wicked problems are not true or false, but good or bad.
4. There is no immediate and no ultimate test of a solution to a wicked problem.
5. Every solution to a wicked problem is a “one-shot operation”; because there is no opportunity to learn by trial and error, every attempt counts significantly.
6. Wicked problems do not have an enumerable (or an exhaustively describable) set of potential solutions, nor is there a well-described set of permissible operations that may be incorporated into the plan.
7. Every wicked problem is essentially unique.
8. Every wicked problem can be considered to be a symptom of another problem.
9. The existence of a discrepancy representing a wicked problem can be explained in numerous ways. The choice of explanation determines the nature of the problem’s resolution.
10. The planner has no right to be wrong.

Horst W.J. Rittel and Melvin M. Webber, “Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning”

Written by nevalalee

January 7, 2017 at 7:30 am

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