Tackling Wicked Problems

Tackling Wicked Problems

The challenge, as Albert Einstein once remarked, is that “the problems that exist in the world today cannot be solved by the level of thinking that created them.” Our generation is faced with many wicked problems that are by definition large, messy, complex and systemic so there are no easy solutions.

Some of yesterday’s attempts to fix these problems generated unforeseen consequences … but not right away. Too often what works in the short-term makes things worse in the long-term, and what works in the long-term makes things worse in the short-term, leaving us confused and frustrated with our attempts to solve the wicked problems.

Tackling Wicked Problems is about helping problem-solvers develop the skills to break through barriers and accomplish meaningful change. After all, we all know that programs and strategies don’t solve problems: people do.

The Oshkosh Area Community Foundation is committed to moving this important work forward in our community by nurturing a change of mindset across all sectors and encouraging the development of initiatives that bring about real and lasting change.

We are excited to take this journey together! Please contact us with your thoughts, ideas and questions.

Collaboration & Collective Impact

Building the capacity of organizations & sectors to work together

When faced with a wicked problem, most people do not automatically turn to collaboration. Collaboration is at the core of creating successful solutions to messy challenges, and can be used as an organizational strategy and as a way to engage the broader community.

Recommended Reading

How to Lead Collective Impact Working Groups
A Comprehensive Toolkit
By Daniela Uribe, Carina Wendel, and Valerie Bockstette

Essential Concepts of Collaboration
By David D. Chrislip
Excerpt from “The Collaborative Leadership Fieldbook”

Platforms for Collaboration
By Satish Nambisan
“Stanford Social Innovation Review”

Embracing Emergence: How Collective Impact Addresses Complexity
By John Kania and Mark Kramer
“Stanford Social Innovation Review”

Past Presentations

POINT 2018: Everyone Leads: Building the Culture for Collective Impact Presented by Paul Schmitz (presentation slides)

Tackling Wicked Problems 2014: Impactful Collaboration Presented by Chris Paterson (presentation slides)

Tackling Wicked Problems 2014: Moving Toward Collective Impact by Chris Paterson (presentation slides)

Tackling Wicked Problems 2014: Reflections on Collaboration (flip chart notes)

Collective Impact Overview by Amy Putzer (presentation to Oshkosh Collaboration Workgroup)

Case studies

The Weight of the Fox Valley 
An initiative bringing together people from Calumet, Outagamie and Winnebago Counties to achieve and maintain a healthy weight at every age.
Tackling Wicked Problems 2014 presentation slides
Facebook Page

Milwaukee Succeeds
Broad-based, communitywide collaboration that aims to improve educational outcomes for every child in Milwaukee, in every school, cradle to career.
Tackling Wicked Problems 2014 presentation slides

Other Resources

Community Engagement Toolkit
From the Collective Impact Forum

Tackling Complex Social Problems through Collective Impact by Collect Impact Forum (video)