In 1973, design theorists Horst Rittel and Melvin Webber articulated the concept of ‘wicked problems.’1What makes wicked problems wicked is that they are not ‘solvable’ in the traditional sense of the term. They do not yield to simple linear solutions, nor even to multifaceted solutions. A wicked problem is one for which each attempt to create a solution changes the nature and understanding of the problem itself, such that the definition of the problem evolves as new possible solutions are considered and/or trialed.
As such, wicked problems offer no explicit basis for the termination of problem-solving activity. Any proposed solution can be further developed, and because numerous plausible alternative solutions can always be provided, proposed solutions can be neither necessarily correct nor incorrect.
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