I first started writing about wicked problems in my 2015 book, Security 2.0.

My friends at the Alliance for Peacebuilding would be delighted if you bought a copy since all the royalties go there, it is five years old and many of the examples in it are dated. Therefore, I will add a summary of the key concepts as they apply to peacebuilding and comparative politics by the middle of November 2019

I hope you’ll find the concept of wicked problems useful; I did when I wrote Security 2.0, and still do today.

Wicked Problems 101

Wicked problems are at the heart of many of the world’s problems today. I only work in two areas in which they appear–peacebuilding and comparative politics. However, I have thought about what they are like in general. In this five-step primer, you can see the basics of Wicked Problems 101.

Map Your Own Wicked Problem

There is no obvious way top begin making sense of a wicked problem because they are so complex. Lots of systems thinkers start with a relatively simple exercise in which you “map” or draw your system. As I point out in From Conflict Resolution to Peacebuilding, you can spend a lot of time and effort building a map like the one depicted here. However, you can get started pretty quickly and easily with some sticky notes and a white board as you can see in Draw Your Wicked Problem primer.

And Do Something About It

I wouldn’t have gotten interested in wicked problems if I didn’t think you could do something about them. Long ago, I learned a lesson that George Lopez warned us about at the first conference of what is now the Peace and Justice Studies Association. Don’t focus on Gloom and Doom 101 in your courses or in your appeals to the public. Concentrate, instead, on what works. So, here is a primer on what you can to do Act on Your Wicked Problem.