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Project Manager : Project Manager Apr May 2014
www.aipm.com.au Project Manager 17 problem shared is a problem halved. Unless yours is a wicked problem -- a particularly vexing type of complex project management problem. Wicked problems are at best di cult and, at worst, impossible to solve. " ese complex project management problems are characterised by a whole range of ambiguities and uncertainties, including incomplete or contradictory information," says Stephen Hayes, CEO of the International Centre for Complex Project Management. In essence, they are wicked because they resist resolution. Wicked problems "refer to a class of social system problems which are ill-for mulated, where the information is confusing, where there are many clients and decision makers with con icting values, and where the rami cations in the whole systems are thoroughly confusing," according to design theorist Horst Rittel. Finding an adequate solution to wicked problems is no mean feat and there are an increasing number of wicked problems a ecting industries across the world. Hayes believes that this is partly to do with globalisation, as well as related to a number of caveats involved with extremely large and complex projects. Complex problems in Australia fall into the category of nationally signi cant projects. "In an Australian context, a wicked problem would be the Murray-Darling basin," explains Hayes. " e number of stakeholders involved in trying to resolve the practical issues around water sharing and the di culties around water issues across a number of states and Federal Government make it a complex project, or wicked problem, in my view. Another more practical example for this country would be the National Broadband Network or the Future Submarine project." Further complicating the issue, wicked problems can emerge at any time. Professor Christophe Bredillet, Director of the Project Management Academy at the Queensland University of Technology, cites Nassim Nicholas Taleb's 'Black swan theory', a metaphor used to describe events that happen out of the blue and which have a major e ect, saying that by nature, wicked problems are unforeseeable. e one certainty for a project management professional is that they will happen, but it just can't be predicted what for m they will take.
Project Manager Feb Mar 2014