Ambitious executives know this: whoever gets to decide what is or is not a problem and how to frame it, gains power. That is one of the reason why in Executive Committee sessions you often see a mad rush to defining a problem and deciding how to tackle it. Beware: more likely than not, someone in the room is trying to fit the problem to his or her agenda.
Mostly, everybody in the room likes to go along with the rush, because “Deciding” feels so good, it almost feels like “Solving” …indeed we often act as if the two were the same.
For wicked problems that is often the first lethal blow. The definition of a wicked problem requires reflection, patience, trial and error and a cast of numerous and often unfamiliar stakeholders.
Rush to a definition of a wicked problem one of two things will happen: if you’re lucky, you’ll end up solving the wrong problem, if you’re not, you’ll miss the moment where you could have caught the wicked problem at an amenable stage and it will return – uglier and meaner than before.