Sunday, February 17, 2013

Management as a Wicked Problem | the problem space evolves as you progress into the solution space.

I have mulled over this post by Thierry de Baillon and Ralph Ohr for some time - see :  Business Model Innovation as Wicked Problem | Sonnez en cas d'absence

It highlights for me the importance need for managers to understand emergence and complexity.The article (and accompanying material) is well worth a thorough read!!

The post states:

An ever increasing pace of change leads to a decrease in life time of operating business models. Companies are therefore forced to reinvent themselves more frequently by creating new business models. Entering new businesses through open business model innovation exhibits a wicked problem structure. In order to properly address those problems, companies have to follow emergent strategies and need to put decentralized, self-organizing structures in place. Social business brings an answer to the urgent necessity to successfully tackle corporate reinvention and to enhance strategic adaptability by connecting individual human stakeholders.

A critical issues, as pointed out by Thierry de Baillon is that the problem space evolves as you progress into the solution space.

It is no longer appropriate to put a business model in place and follow it slavishly: rather it needs to be dynamic and adaptive to emerging trends/activities/reactions.


  1. Thanks for picking up our post, Shaun!

    I think this is a critical issue indeed: increasing complexity calls for emergent and adaptive approaches. We have to learn "on the fly" as problems (and appropriate solutions) cannot be defined at the outset.

    Business model innovation shows some characteristics of a wicked problem - in particular, the solution, i.e. the new business model, cannot be determined in advance, but needs to be explored and validated in an iterative search process.

  2. Thanks Shaun!

    Yes, we have to realize that the very notion of business model has changed, and that the whole way we are approaching business must evolve. Social business, of course, unfolds a promising framework, but only if we are able to reinvent many fundamentals, from training/learning (it will be the subject of my forthcoming post) to leadership



The Dynamics of Discovery...the start of the innovation process. Or, industry might want applied research but that is not what it needs...

From Archimedes to Edison, attempts to improve quality of life have dictated a need for advances in science and technology. These ad...