Wicked Problems Plaza

The Wicked Problems Plaza
The Wicked Problems Plaza Prof. Dr. Rob van Tulder of the Partnerships Resource Centre and Harry Derksen of the New World Campus explain the Wicked Problems Plaza.
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Wicked Problems Plaza

How does the Wicked Problems Plaza work?

The Wicked Problems Plaza (WPP) is an intellectual concept developed by Professor Rob van Tulder of the PrC. The Plaza brings stakeholders together and promotes effective collaboration. Participants in the sessions identify the problem’s different dimensions and discuss dilemmas. Sustainable business models evolve from brainstorming on collective solutions and stakeholders find themselves being taken from abstract problems to concrete solutions using their heads, hearts and hands. The WPP is located at the New World Campus in The Hague and was officially launched at the opening of the New World Campus in May 29, 2015.

What is a wicked problem?

In our increasingly globalized world we are more connected than ever. This results in many discoveries and innovation as well as countless complex challenges. These global problems demand a new way of thinking and cooperating. We call these challenges: wicked problems. A Wicked Problem is a social or cultural problem that is hard, almost impossible, to solve because of these four reasons: (1) there is incomplete or contradicting information (2) the diversity of opinions and possible solutions is too large to come to a concrete strategy (3) the economic value is too high to bear for the parties involved (4) the desires and stakes of the different stakeholders are incongruent. These problems are cross-sector and cross-national and demand a systemic change that can’t come from one single party. Wicked problems are grand problems such as sustainable food chains, fighting poverty and climate issues. These global problems ask for cooperation between a large diversity of stakeholders in order to come to innovative solutions.

Plans for 2016

In 2016 we plan to do multiple WPPs and further elaborate the theoretical foundation of the Wicked Problems Plaza as well as (future) research projects around it. A team of researchers at RSM has been formed around the latter. They will help in creating feedback on the formula and enhance the impact of each session by action research and participatory observations. We will be building up a team of facilitators that will work together with the PrC to create a variety of techniques and capacity to enable as many WPP sessions as possible and continue to update the Facilitator’s Manual. The various formats as well as the involvement of larger groups of professionals also requires that a more elaborate business model will be specified: we will develop this in close cooperation with the NWC in 2016. Finally, we will write a booklet on the WPP concept in the ‘What About Series’ of PrC, targeted at an informed audience of practitioners and policy makers who work in complex settings on wicked problems.

Would you like to join a wicked problems plaza session? Please contact Rianne van Asperen.