A Wish List for Wicked Projects

In April, my friend Peter Macleod inspired me with his MASSLBP Wish List, which he sent out in a newsletter to MASSLBP’s network. Peter was in turn inspired by a Christmas card message: “work for what you wish for”. Expressing the intention, out loud, for all to see, of the kind of work that you want made a lot of sense to me.

Fired up by the success of our recent collaboration at the Collingwood Conference, my frequent collaborator Daniel Rose started a conversation about our dream projects. These are projects that can take full advantage of our capabilities and that also really push us in our practice while making a big difference in the world. We referred to this cheekily as “Project Mongoose”, but really what we’re talking about are Wicked Projects.

Addressing Wicked Problems

What is a wicked project? A wicked project first of all aims to address a wicked problem.  Wicked problems are all around us: climate change, economic transformation, poverty, healthcare, urban transportation and human migration to name just a few. Solving wicked problems is meaningful, purposeful work. They’re complex, intertwined, ambiguous, messy and frustrating. Wicked problems fight back as you try to solve them.

The projects that would make our wish list would be centered on one of these problems. Our role is not to be the content expert in the chosen field. Our role is to bring both proven and novel processes and tools to these projects while working with and learning from some of the smartest people we can find.

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