Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors
Wicked Challenges ™
Filter by Specialism

Overview of HARD TO DEFINE

Introducing the third Essential Element which is HARD TO DEFINE .. different forms of the Wicked Challenge™ present themselves and each is difficult to define. This results in many different stories being told.

What's on your pad?

Tell us your challenge

In the video above, we talked about how difficult it can be to define what makes for effective leadership. We used the example of the different military leadership styles of Montgomery, Patton, and Rommel. Montgomery was cautious and would not move until equipped with overwhelming resources. Patton and Rommel were more flexible and took more significant risks. Rommel constantly attacked – regardless of his circumstances.

The three had very different characteristics but were seen by authoritative writers as the most effective generals of WWII. We can see from their different personalities and approaches that defining the characteristics of an effective general is hard.

Taking a broader view, we find factors that can make defining challenges hard:

  1. Complexity: Management problems often involve multiple stakeholders, departments, and processes. This can make it difficult to clearly define a problem and identify its root cause. This means they are often Wicked Challenges;
  2. Lack of data: We often need to make rapid decisions when we do not have all the information we might need;
  3. Limited resources: Addressing challenges requires resources - time, money, or people- to help us analyse and understand the challenges before we can begin to resolve them.

Subjectivity: Challenges and possible solutions are often seen very differently by people – even people within the same organisation. Finding common ground requires an approach where everyone in the room works together to find consensus.

Changing circumstances: As circumstances change over time, problem definitions also shift and developing solutions that are effective in the long term becomes an ongoing challenge. In looking to resolve challenges, we can see then that they are often hard to define, and significant hurdles can lie in our way.


Time to see your trickiest challenges in an innovative new way! In this paper, we identify a different kind of challenge that could be inhibiting or worse risking your whole organisation. We describe it's Essential and Supplementary Elements and provide a Six IT approach to resolving it.