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.

Social Innovation

Generating new and sustainable models for social change

With social innovation, “[the] goal is not to give people a fish. It’s not to teach them how to fish. It’s to build a new and better fishing industry,” says Bill Drayton, Founder of Ashoka: Innovators for the Public. Social entrepreneurs make fundamental changes in the way things are done in the social sector. Social innovation can encourage organizations to work together to find novel solutions by looking at root causes of social problems.

Recommended Reading

The Meaning of “Social Entrepreneurship
By J. Gregory Dees

Creating Social Value
By Philip Auerswald
“Stanford Social Innovation Review”

Past Presentations

Tackling Wicked Problems 2014: Social Innovation Across Sectors and Scale by Jeff Snell (presentation slides)

Tackling Wicked Problems 2014: Scenario Planning by Ben Williams (presentation slides) 

Social Innovation by Julie Fevola, Amy Putzer and Brenda Haines (presentation to re:TH!NK partners) 

Case studies

JumpStart Auto Repair
Improving the auto repair experience for women while helping domestic abuse survivors, right in our own backyard.
Garage for Good (video)

Cristo Rey Network
Employing a work-and-learn model in which local businesses employ students as interns five days of the month, helping to offset their tuition and providing them with professional skills.
Tackling Wicked Problems 2014 presentation slides
Story on 60 Minutes (video)

Leveraging the power of play to maximize the value of recess for learning and children’s health and well-being.
Tackling Wicked Problems 2014 presentation slides
What Play Can Teach Us – TEDx presentation by Jill Vialet (video)

Rural Health Initiative
Making “house” calls to interested farm families to provide health screening, information, education and referrals to area services, and lending a trusted ear to listen and keep in confidence concerns and issues these families face today. A concept they like to call “kitchen wellness.”
Tackling Wicked Problems 2014 presentation slides

Flourish and Sober Living
Learning from a bakery initiative that did not take flight and how it influenced a new sober living program involving STEP Industries, the Mooring Programs and NOVA Counseling.
Tackling Wicked Problems 2014 presentation slides

Beyond 12
Improving college graduation rates for students from low-income communities by bridging the data gap between K-12 education and U.S. colleges and universities.
The Story Doesn’t End with the Acceptance Letter by Ashoka Fellow Alexandra Bernadotte (video)

Independent Transportation Network
Providing around the clock community-based transportation that helps people over 60 years old (and adults with visual impairments) continue to live with dignity in their own homes.
Aging Actively by Ashoka Fellow Katherine Freund (video) 

Aravind Eye Hospital
This “McDonald’s approach to eye care” was created to solve the problem of avoidable blindness that was rapidly escalating in India. It has since been featured as a Harvard Business School social enterprise case study.
The Inspiration (video)