Policy Enigma: Wicked Problems and Thinking in Wholes

The article Tackling wicked problems : A public policy perspective provides a comprehensive acknowledgment of the complexity of many of the “wicked” problems that large organisations (not just governments) face in negotiating the facts of reality as they are (i.e. being pragmatic), not as we might prefer them to be (i.e. ideological assertions).

“The handling of wicked problems requires holistic rather than linear thinking.” There, in a nutshell, lies the problem.

We are not naturally gifted with an aptitude to think in terms of probability, complexity and holistic or gestalt systems structure and function. If the acknowledgement of the existence of constitutively intractable wicked problems is worth celebrating – note that any attempts to reconnoiter this territory tend to create their own attendant complexities and problems of explanation.

The associated document here has an estimated 40-minute reading time which indicates comprehensiveness but also that the topic is somewhat difficult to pin down to a simple, underlying symmetry or compressed, reductive pattern of some sort. Problems of concise explanation are not separate from the problems being explained.

The underlying principles and symmetries of system complexity, probabilistic entropy and discontinuous (i.e. paradoxical and holistic) self-containment are key heuristics here.

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