Wicked Problems

See super-wicked problems and other glossary entries
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  • Horst Rittel's (1967) original design-related term was developed for use in a managerial context, when (Rittel & Webber, 1973) defined 'wicked problems' using ten characteristic features. Jeffrey Conklin (2006) later generalised the idea using only six.

Conklin's Six Indicators: 

  1. The problem is not understood until after the formulation of a solution.
  2. Wicked problems have no stopping rule.
  3. Solutions to wicked problems are not right or wrong.
  4. Every wicked problem is essentially novel and unique.
  5. Every solution to a wicked problem is a 'one shot operation.'
  6. Wicked problems have no given alternative solutions.


  • Churchman, C. W. (1967). Wicked problems. Management Science, 14(4), B-141 and B-142
  • Conklin, Jeffrey (2006). Dialogue mapping : building shared understanding of wicked problems. Chichester, England: Wiley Publishing. ISBN 978-0-470-01768-