Coronavirus and Solving Complex Wicked Problems
The coronavirus is exposing and disrupting fragile interconnected global systems. Financial markets, supply chains, consumer behaviour, tourism, healthcare, and state, national and global events are all affected by the virus and present wicked problems.
A wicked problem is a problem that is difficult or impossible to solve because of incomplete, contradictory, and changing requirements that are often difficult to recognize. It refers to an idea or problem that cannot be fixed, where there is no single solution to the problem. Because of complex interdependencies, the effort to solve one aspect of a wicked problem may reveal or create other problems.
1 Rapid Problem Solving Cycle for Complex Wicked Problems
The Rapid Problem Solving Cycle evolved over 30 years in work with executives to solve complex problems that threatened the economic viability of their enterprises.
2 Rapid Business Continuity Planning Cycle in a Pandemic
In response to the Pandemic we are moving from annual planning cycles to rapid weekly cycles and daily crisis decision-making meetings:
- Facts – Examine Data to identify and quantify the Problem
- Plan – Analyse the Data to determine a logical solution
- Vision – Develop Future Scenarios to continually stress test the Plan
- Value – Evaluate impact of the Plan on People’s wellbeing and livelihood.
3 Business Continuity Planning Cycle Example for a Pandemic
A business continuity plan should include actions to minimise loss during the pandemic and how your business will recover or partially restore critical business activities after the pandemic. Business objectives during a pandemic should be to:
1. Reduce transmission of the pandemic virus among employees, customers / clients, and partners
2. Maintain mission-critical operations and services.
Example of Rapid Business Continuity Planning Cycle 1 > 2 > 3 > 4 > 1
4. Evolution of The Rapid Problem Solving Cycle for Complex Wicked Problems in Defence + Industry
In 1991 as a manager with Coal & Allied Industries I was certified by Price Waterhouse in The Myers-Brigs Type Indicator in a management development program to address complex people problems with introduction of new coal production technologies.
In 1994 as a director of Futureware Corporation we led defence application of Group Decision Support Systems developed by Australia Defence Force Academy deployed at RAAF Victoria Barracks and RAAF Williamtown. Futureware established a Group Decision Support Centre at its Newcastle office to facilitate RAAF strategic planning meetings and complex decision-making forums.
In 1996 as a management consultant with industrial and business clients I was aware of Whole Brain Thinking in business leadership development at General Electric and received accreditation in The Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument and became an accredited associate of The Hermann International Network.
Whole Brained Thinking was pioneered in business leadership development programs at General Electric by Ned Herrmann and involves undertaking the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument to measure, evaluate and analyse preferred (and non-preferred) methods of thinking to develop Whole Brain Thinking.
Whole Brain Thinking avoids ‘blind spots’ and ‘group think’ which are the Achilles heel of planning and decision-making especially when under stress.
The Rapid Problem Solving Cycle for Complex Wicked Problems is a fusion of these ideas and evolved over 30 years in work with executives in industry and business to solve complex problems that threatened the economic viability of their enterprises including the 2009 GFC.
I have decided to share this to help executives and business owners with rapid business continuity planning faced with the wicked complexities of a pandemic.