February 6, 2017

Discussion Session 2.6.2017 – Wicked Problem Map Presentations

Where might the skills, frames and perspectives learned in this section (Systems) be most influential to a traditional design process?

Discussion Leaders: Rossa Kim, Minrui Li, Vikas Yadav, Vicki Costikyan

35 Comments
  1. Hey guys – Nice session today. Here are two links to the redesign of Bogota, Columbia that I mentioned in class. I feel this is what Transition Design is all about. One is a ~15min TED Talk and the other is a long format documentary that really goes into detail. Bonus points if you can explain to me what a Traffic Mime is!

    TED Talk – https://www.ted.com/talks/enrique_penalosa_why_buses_represent_democracy_in_action#t-842061

    Long format – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4lOkLNIT3gI

  2. For me, there are two major takeaways from the systems unit for a traditional design process:
    1. Systems are incredibly complex and interconnected
    2. Systems are connected to people; thinking about systems mechanically leads to a fundamental misunderstanding of how those systems work.

    I think these two insights are very important when designing anything and everything. Everything we design will be fundamentally situated within a sociocultural system. This means that the “Discover” and “Define” sections of the double diamond design process are far more complex than they may immediately appear. In order to understand users and their needs, we need to understand the root causes of those needs, the way those needs are tied to other people, and how our design relates to the larger system in which it inhabits. This will have a positive impact on our resulting designs by deepening our understanding of the context and by designing services/products/innovations that show users we inherently understand what they want and how our design plays a role in their everyday lives/practices.

  3. Wicked Problem mapping will hopefully become a standard part of every project kickoff. I see it as an important part of scoping and researching a problem, as well as determining your underlying assumptions around the problem.

    I was really glad to have Chirag on my team as we explored the area of Affordable Housing, because with his outside perspective he was able to ask “what do we mean by affordable?”. This caused the rest of us (Mackenzie, Denise and me) to step outside the problem and realize that we had all been operating on different understandings of what this means. With this better framing we were able to think more holistically and, I think, map the issue in greater detail.

    • Theora, you bring up a really good point. We all carry with us, preconceived notions about what “affordable” is. It’s different for everyone and everything. How this applies to housing is crucial to understand. Having grown up in Pittsburgh, the notion of a $2000 a month 1-br apartment sounds insane, but when comparing that to places like New York or San Francisco, it’s an amazing deal. I recently heard about an apartment building that was built in the Garfield neighborhood that offers “affordable housing” of only $700 per month. While that may be more affordable to me, I am skeptical that $700 per month is affordable to many of the existing residents of the neighborhood. I can imagine a conversation happening between the developers and local officials, trying to settle on what may actually be affordable. But starting off with a conversation like this seems very beneficial. Everyone going into a project can have a clear understanding of what their positions are as design and conversations with other stakeholders moves forward.

    • I really appreciate the idea of mapping out the wicked problem becomes a standard part of every project kick off. I may take this as a way to show/fulfill our social responsibility of designers.

      My biggest takeaways are:
      Mapping out the wicked problem at the very beginning helps us contemplate our design in a system-level.
      Understanding the interconnectedness of things and non-linear causality can prepare us for an uncertain future and encourage us to do sustainable design.

      My first interaction design project was to redesign the course registration system (web+app) for college students at Tongji University. It was 2 years ago, we redesigned the workflow and user interface. 1 year ago, I iterated that project and started to think about the reasonableness of the mechanism of course registration and the allocation of education resources. Now, if I continue to iterate the project, I may consider trying to map out the stakeholders and some wicked problems such as Chinese education resources, redesign education, etc.

      I also realized that wicked problem mapping helps us understand the local situation better. For example, although two cities have the same problem like “lack of healthy foods”, they may have various related issues/root causes behind that, or similar root causes take various proportions. Therefore, we can do better design in line with local conditions.

    • I agree with Theora that wicked problem mapping would be useful at the start of most projects that I can think of, especially the collaborative part involved in the mapping exercise we all took part in. Like Theora said with her group, I think it was critical to approach a problem with as many different perspectives weighing in as possible.

      I also agree with Hajira that it may not always be easy to include problem mapping in some projects. Often times I’ve had the experience where the company I was working at was contractually obligated to simply execute on another organization’s vision. However, that doesn’t mean that that organization did not do a good job framing the problem. They very well could have spent as much time, if not more, time than we did in class thinking through the issue they were trying to address with as many stakeholders as they could involve. In this case, while I see wicked problem mapping as an extremely useful exercise, I also am ok with not always being able to go through that process on every project I may find myself working on, provided that that type of systems thinking was carried out by prior to my involvement.

  4. Understanding Systems is important for traditional designers in that it impresses on us that we are not designing within a vacuum. Our decisions can have effects that reverberate throughout the entire system. Also, whether we are kerning letters or designing for systems-level change, understanding the nature of Systems trains us to think about our potential impact at every level of scale, which for me personally imparts a greater ethical and moral consciousness to how and what I design. However, thinking like this can be conflicting at times because 1) I need a job when I graduate, 2) I recognize that I may not always be in a position to say ‘no’ and 3) not everyone shares the same values as I. That can feel a bit isolating. (This reminded me of a paper I read by Cameron that is subtitled, “Making a Habit of Being Alienated as a Designer”—worth a read if you’re interested in structural change.)

    I agree with Theora that mapping out the problem would be a useful exercise for any design project, as we may not otherwise become aware of all the external factors that may pose challenges down the line and may amplify the impact of a solution (in positive or negative ways).

  5. On one hand, I think tradition design process is similar to scientific research which define a problem and try to figure the solution. Although, design tend to find a good solution rather than a best one, tradition design process is still a linear way of thinking about a problem. However, to treat problem through a systematic view, we are not able to strictly define the cause and effect relationships between the emergent we see in the system.

    In the first assignment, my team focuses on the crime problem in Pittsburgh. We come out with many crime problems in this city and try to categorized them as cause or effect. We found this task is very hard because everything seems to be interconnected. For example, most crimes occurred in poor neighborhood, and due to the crime there, people tend to avoid those places which make it more poor. Eventually, we figure out more high level, abstract concept to include the problem we see. For example, we think the mind set of legal system plays important role in political category. If your mindset is to punish criminal rather than getting them back to the right trail, you will have totally different way of treating people who conducted a crime. Your law will threaten them as much as much rather than correct them.

    To conclude, thinking problem in a systematic make me not treat problem as simple cause-and-effect relationship. As a result, how to deal with such open and complex problem requires different kinds of methodology.

  6. In a traditional design process, you define the problem, do research, sketch, prototype, user testing etc. It’s a linear step-by-step process with multiple iterations and mini feedback loops. Understanding systems changes this because it helps you consider all the consequences and infrastructure that your design will touch.

    For example, say you want to build a phone. You research the engineering and user needs, you sketch, prototype, build, test etc. And then you end up with a phone that users are (semi) happy with. However, if you considered the system (maybe by mapping out the problem before starting like Theora suggested), you’ll consider how sustainable your phone is and what happens when a user stops using it. Then you’ll consider the material and how sustainable it is. Next, maybe you’ll think about which components are re-usable and how to extract those after use.

    A beautiful thing that I can see happening occurs when designers all start understanding systems. They will realize that there are overlaps in the consequences and infrastructures of their seemingly non-related designs. Then, they can (and will) begin to work together towards a more sustainable future.

  7. I am left with the sense that we as designers can do a better job with the design process if we can do a better job of understanding the systems that we are going to be working in. If we are able to understand a complex system inside and out, hopefully we can do a better job of predicting how the system will react once perturbed, as Terry mentioned.

    As we like to say “there are two sides to every story,” well I feel that there are many unique sides within systems. The more we are able to see and comprehend these differences, the more successful we should be in designing for these systems. Think of a garden. Most of us know that if we plant a tomato plant, water it, and weed it, we will eventually have (with a little luck) tomatoes. But what if in addition to that fact, we knew about soil conditions, the amount of water, insects, nutrients, how the tomato plant interacts with other plants, what if we grasped the entire system? We could do a better job of producing the best tomatoes, or at least understanding why our tomatoes didn’t turn out so well. This is still a natural system and thus we can’t predict everything accurately, but the comprehensive knowledge can be very beneficial to us.

  8. The biggest takeaway for me is the process of mapping wicked problems. I found the process of mapping to be more valuable than the map itself due to the conversations we had when deciding what issues are visualized, what categories they come under and how they connect.

    One of the ideas that came out of discussion during last Monday’s class was about getting different stakeholders together to map out the problems individually and then consolidating them into a single map. I thought this was a great way to ensure the map and mapping process incorporates diverse value sets.

    I can see myself incorporating this into the design process to see how a particular problem space affects and is shaped by larger systems at play.

    • I agree with Manya, the process itself forces you to think of many different perspective when approaching a problem. Coming from a traditional design and advertising background, the process of mapping wicked problems as well as the double diamond are fairly new to me. I can see where this multi-perspective process can reveal solutions that may have otherwise gone unnoticed.

      Like Theora mentioned, when Chirag asked our group “what is affordable,” it challenged us to really think about how we and the city maybe defining affordable. I think it opened up a lot of the causes and consequences we ended up mapping. I wish this process would have been in place at some of the agencies I worked at. Short-time sensitive projects as well as the longer term projects may have benefit from it. I recall working on a campaign for senior citizens and we approached through a rather narrow lens, it would have been nice to map the problem out in this way to see it from multiple perspectives. Not just the insurance and healthcare side.

  9. Having the ability to map systems is not only valuable in the traditional design process, but also a wide range of other fields and the processes within them. Being able to take a step back when a project is kicking off and developing a better understanding of that system can only be beneficial. Mapping can help you understand the dynamics from the start and inform how your proposed changes will affect the system as a whole.

    I can think of many situations where mapping would have been beneficial in my last workplace. It was not too uncommon for leadership to decide to implement some form of a change, without fully understanding the system they were implementing that change in. Maybe leadership had seen a new technology that they wanted to implement or felt they wanted to make a change with how something was currently being done, what they didn’t know was how that technology or change would affect other parts of the organization. By mapping the system, leadership would have a better understanding on the areas where they might have difficulty rolling out the change. Allowing them to create alternative plans on how to roll out the change and ultimately giving their changes a better chance to succeed.

    • I truly agree with Scott, mapping systems when a project is kicking off and building a better understanding of the scope of the project would be so beneficial. Though system mapping is common practice in design it is not widely used in other fields. Mapping should be practiced with all the stakeholders be it business, technology, sales etc.. System mapping in such cases will help in understanding all the wicked problems involved and give better clarity right at the start of the project to the entire team. Thus, help decision makers be more conscious of their decisions and understand the impacts throughout the wicked problem map.

      This exercise helped me analyze all the possible factors involved in the wicked problem but worried me as this process seemed never ending. As my classmates presented their topics, I could find more factors that connected their wicked problem maps to ours thus creating a complicated entangled web of problems.

  10. I think the exercise of mapping out a wicked problem is valuable in itself. This framework pushed us to research the many facets of water quality issues and I think we came out with a more holistic understanding of the problem.

    As we were working on our map, however, we became concerned with the usability of our final product. We understood the process by which the map came together and its tangled web of relationships, but would other people take the time to read and understand it? Additionally, what insights were left out by not including stakeholders in our process? For these reasons, I wonder if this tool is best utilized in co-design process with real stakeholders and for people to come to a common understanding of a problem.

    Moving forward, I’m interested to see how we can make wicked maps actionable and learn how to identify points of intervention.

  11. I was amazed by every single team’s presentation about the wicked problem mapping in class. None of the topics was new, but in each map, I could always find some points which I had never thought about before. This demonstrated that wicked problem mapping is an essential tool for designers no matter how much we are familiar with a problem.

    But from the other side, based on the experience of our team, the process of mapping was subjective to some extent, which was influenced by what kind of information we could find, the issues we knew or not. Thus, I am wondering how we could be as possible as objective when we are mapping a design problem? The double-diamond method which was introduced at the end of the class might be the answer. Intending to truly understand all the tangled relationships among different stakeholders, we do need a practical and useful tool. And I cannot wait to learn more about these scientific and systematic research methodologies.

  12. I agree that designers should include systems mapping in their process, particularly in the ‘define’ portion of the double diamond. Getting bogged down in mapping a wicked problem first thing may lead to paralysis and stunted creativity in my opinion. Using the systems map to evaluate the possibilities produced in the ‘discover’ stage would prove extremely beneficial to understanding the problem and making responsible decisions. As Hajira said, we should be reminded during every project, no matter how small, that we do not design in a vacuum. Every decision made has an effect on the system, whether immediately or 75 years down the line.

    Designers should do their best to consider the ramifications of their designs on all levels of scale and over a wide timeline. While, in practice, due to project deadlines, hostile attitudes etc, this step may be brief or cursory, it can only be beneficial to make this type of thinking habitual in upcoming designers. Hopefully, over time, this attitude may become the norm and manifest itself as a priority in the design process.

  13. I agree with what Manya and Monique have to say – that the process of mapping the system was more valuable than the completed map itself. Looking at what each team had presented, I enjoyed and learned more about the complex systems from the way they reached those points. In our team, the research and insights from the wicked mapping were a great resource, it made me understand the root causes of the problem areas. I can see this method helping me early on in any design problem because it gives me a leveled introduction to the system in hand. As a next step, I can see us creating actionable points of intervention within the complex maps.

  14. I thought it was very insight to be forced to think on a system level. Like what Terry had said in class, we as designers are taught to focus on a problem and then isolated it from everything else so that we can design the optimal solution for that particular problem. In the workforce, we are confronted with time restraints and hostile attitudes that discourages us from looking at the big picture. But we really ought to. There are so many negative ramifications that comes with each decision we make; whether it affects our immediate generation or seven generations down the line.

    I think using the map during the discover and define phrases within the double diamond would be extremely beneficial. We need to be aware and acknowledge the entire system before zooming in to interject a particular intervention. We need to be able to predict possible negative ramifications so that we could design for (or against) them.

  15. Any designed output exists within a system defined and complicated by innumerable, dynamic, connected elements.

    I would say that the technique of mapping the system within which the design is going to operate is at its most influential during the earlier parts of the traditional design process. It’s important to have an understanding of how the elements of a given system interrelate before you ideate much.

    Natural and emergent systems have such tightly bound causalities that it is often difficult to trace a given event to its innumerable priors. The closest we can hope to approach to understanding the web of causalities is by tracing the connections in as high a resolution as possible.

    I think that when people examine many of the most complex systems that we encounter (such as the operations of the body, the ever-changing state of the biosphere, the behavioral tendencies of a population, etc.) the complexity dwarfs the capacity of the human mind to fully hold. Some people seem to project this incomprehension back onto the system, viewing it an indelible aspect of the system itself rather than a consequence of the mind’s inherent selective capacity. I see the vitalism of half a millennium ago as a symptom of a similar projection

    I’ll return to a point I brought up in my first week’s online response, that minds we create have greater ability to hold multidimensional information and search through that space for pattern. It’s important that we help create and collaborate with these minds in order to hope to comprehend and navigate these wicked waters.

    • Hey Gray

      Love your point here:

      “…when people examine many of the most complex systems that we encounter, the complexity dwarfs the capacity of the human mind to fully hold. Some people seem to project this incomprehension back onto the system, viewing it an indelible aspect of the system itself…”

      I agree completely, the fact that our individual human minds are not equipped to comprehend problems beyond a certain scale, does not meant that those problems are inherently incomprehensible. It means that the scope of some problems is too large for one human to grasp fully, those two are not equivalent..

      So if we admit that massive problems are inherently comprehensible, but beyond the scope of a single human mind, what then do we need to do to engage these complex problems? It seems like you’re suggesting that the creation of next generation AIs could help us begin to at least apprehend all of the data in a complex problem and see patterns that we couldn’t on our own. In that way, we are using the digital mind as a tool for insight. Whether that digital mind model constitutes an independent sentience is another fascinating question, but irrespective of whether AIs do have self-determining intelligence, they are ideally formed for containing and parsing massive amounts of information, which is precisely the capability that we need in oder to engage with systems level problems.

      I wonder in parallel, could large numbers of human minds together form a similar level of large scale understanding? I’m not sure how that would work, but perhaps there are radically collaborative and cooperative ways that lots of human beings could come together to create new knowledge. I know Willow is thinking about how spaces can be re-made to facilitate learning and new ways of knowing, we should get together with her to discuss these connections further.

      • Michelina Campanella February 12, 2017 at 7:20 pm Reply

        Adrian and Gray,

        I am really fascinated with the direction of your discussion – specifically around AI and the inherent limitations of human cognition. I agree with you both that AI is a powerful tool that seems to lend itself perfectly to understanding these types of large scale systemic problems, and as you know I have been committed to this idea for quite some time. What I’ve learned over the past year is that creating algorithms capable of such an understanding is beholden to the human understanding that created them, which can create biases within a computing system or worse. I also realize that AI has the capacity for self-learning which can make up for gaps inherited from its creator, but even if an AI had this capacity, how would it effectively communicate its discoveries and more importantly its decision making process?

        To get to the point where an AI an be utilized as an aid in understanding wicked problems requires a great need for human understanding that needs to occur first and foremost. As for minds coming together as Adrian pointed out, I think this is exactly the place to start, not only to grow our individual understandings, but also to begin collecting the data and information that can be used to create a corpus for an AI to learn from. Human and machine learning don’t necessarily have to happen in isolation, and perhaps we need to reconsider our goals when it comes to “learning” and how we hope to apply that knowledge. I am suggesting that we thoroughly document our own learning process and begin to think about how we would teach a machine to do the same.

        PS. I would love to join a group with you both and Willow 🙂

  16. When we first met as a team, I didn’t know where to start. It was somehow similar but different from the traditional design process and felt like going around the circle at first. I’m glad that I could work as a team so we could exchange our knowledge. Based on new findings and ground knowledge, we could find lots of new insights around the food system. Similar to research phase in the traditional design process, conduct as much research as possible around the topic is crucial to understand the problem in a holistic manner.As our map got bigger, we became concerned with ways to present this map. We formed the relationship after hours and hours of talking around this problem area, but how can we deliver this complex information within 10 minutes? Our optimal solution was recreating the map based on individual categories, however I was wondering the usability of this map after finishing our presentation. Everyone has different backgrounds and experience around the topics we present. I’m interested to see how we can lively incorporate feedbacks within the map.

  17. After the wicked problem mapping practice with my teammates (Tammy, Scott, and Ashlesha), we ended up recognizing every single aspect including seemingly trivial thing is entangled thus creating a complicated loop which seems to be never ending. We tried to understand as many perspectives of stakeholders as possible to map out causes and consequences of “gentrification”.

    It was indeed a great opportunity for us to think about how things from minor to major are interconnected with each other by visualizing those. I think we, to some extent, understand entangled wicked problems theoretically, but couldn’t fully empathize it. In that sense, this practice was invaluable in that it encouraged us to discuss and share our thoughts ranged from everyday life to theoretical knowledge.

    But as Monica mentioned last week’s class, what we created as “wicked problem map” is, I felt, somewhat superficial because it is nearly impossible for us to figure out profound insights or factors which could be brought up by experts from those areas of study/industry. I would like to point out again that this is the reason why we should work together with experts from various backgrounds to outline the map of each, compare/collate those, and finally synthesize those and, we together, get the high level understanding of the entire vicious (or virtuous) circle which is out of single human scale.

  18. I think this week’s session was different from previous weeks because at some point we have been able to make these complex systems more tangible and understandable. Mapping the relationships between certain root causes, consequences that connected to these root causes, and of course the stakeholders of these living systems.

    I have amazed with the work I and my group members put during the past two weeks. From the start to the presentation day, thinking, mapping, and visualizing to understand the wicked problem of “Accessing High-Quality Education in Pittsburgh” has become more clear. For my group, we were lucky that we had a primary stakeholder in our group, Ashley. Starting with her personal insights, we have kickstarted very quickly our brainstorming and made our insights more extensive through a literature review. Using the online mind mapping tool, http://www.coggle.it helped us to collaborate efficiently remotely to finalize our mindmap.

    Ironically, our session was able to learn the underlining reasons behind the Pittsburgh’s water problem, just after days that Pittsburgher’s water problem due to a malfunction in a major water filtration center that city gets water.

  19. I found two key takeaways of wicked problem mapping are useful in design process. First, mapping wicked problems facilitated conversation and knowledge/experience sharing between individuals by embodying vague concepts. Mapping itself helped our team focus on a given topic and recall our relevant knowledge and previous experience. Secondly, I think it could also aid us to identify painpoints/intervention opportunities by explicitly visualizing factors and relationship between them. Once relationship if all factors becomes clear, it was getting much easier to pinpoint where we should focus on to address specific issue. For example, my team’s map of transportation showed that low appeal is a major factor of vicious circle. It seemed like a most effective potential intervention point to cut off the loop.

  20. I think mapping wicked problems was incredibly helpful in asking the right questions, and fit as effectively within the traditional design process. When my group started mapping gentrification in Pittsburgh, for example, our first instinct was to map out the ways it has harmed and benefitted Pittsburgh. However, our first reaction asked the wrong questions. Instead, it took a shift of mindset to scrap our map and instead delve into reasons this would have happened. Understanding why a wicked problem such as gentrification comes to fruition re-calibrated the why it happened. In the traditional design process, problem mapping (even when there doesn’t seem to be a problem on the frontline) before ideation would be invaluable.

  21. Through the mapping exercise, we were able to gain a deeper understanding of gentrification. One of the most important findings we had is that gentrification was not caused by any single force. Instead, it was derived from many issues that are inextricably intertwined.
    We noticed that this nested relationship among issues was closely related to the inescapable nature of capitalism. Based on each stakeholder’s interest, money flows from the demander to the supplier, forming an intangible web that eventually benefits the ones who have higher purchasing power.
    We also found out that despite the fact that old residents were forced to be displaced due to gentrification, the new residents’ intentions were never even close to such displacement. They were simply interested in the new job opportunities provided by the newly emergent tech hub, and more economical house pricing. Similarly, the government was simply interested in bringing the city back to glory; the new generation in the neighborhood simply wanted a different lifestyle, the new business simply craves for catering new taste and desire. Each stakeholder’s action does not directly relate to gentrification, yet the after-effect of the accumulation of these actions became something unperceivable and devastating.

    • I believe that our map (Access to high quality education) gained a lot of depth by having Ashley in our group. Ashley’s first hand expertise in the problem have us new perspective, that as designers we otherwise couldn’t have. I think that the exercise of mapping wicked problems is very valuable when done right, and I think you can only do it right by bringing representation from all shareholders. It would be an interesting follow-up exercise is we took our wicked problem maps to the community that;s being directly affected by the problem and see how much they agree with it. I wouldn’t be surprised if by doing this we would find ourselves confronting assumptions and seeing significant gaps in our maps.

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  23. We explored the concept of wicked problems in the last semester and it has, since then, made me more conscious of the choices I make with a constant reminder of the interconnected web we live in. Wicked mapping is exceptionally useful in connecting the dots between intangible relationships and I agree with my peers here that it helps understand the problems and its effects of other problems in much more depth than one could anticipate upfront. All my teammates live in different areas of Pittsburgh, so it was interesting to learn about the varied experiences each one of us has while using the public transportation. The conversations made our map more comprehensive and I felt that this particular stage was the most enriching part of the entire process. The frame was helpful in making sense of so many issues and how they relate to one another. I believe this activity, when used in traditional design process, should be intertwined in the initial research phase in order to unveil all the complexities involved in the issue at hand. Wicked mapping has a potential to guide the design process to a more holistic viewpoint.

  24. Firstly, every project should start off with mapping the project space. I believe this would not be very different from creating a mind map of some sort. Putting down everything that is known about what is being done/has to be done and making connections helps see what we would otherwise never see. I have seen over time that doing this activity has helped me see problems from different perspectives.
    Working with three teammates who are from the US, I was a little surprised to see some of the things they were taking for granted during the discussions. And I understand. Those things were either odd or new to me as I saw them from a very different perspective than they were seeing. an example worth mentioning is the practice of moving out of your parents house when you join college. That seems to be the norm here. In India, most parents want their kids to stay with them irrespective of what their kids are doing or how old they are.
    In design, being able to see both sides of the coin is a very important skill and even more when it comes to wicked problems as they seem to have more than just two sides.

  25. I think that understanding that systems are complex is the best way that the mapping exercise can help us understand the interconnectedness of everything, but I think the mapping process itself lacks enough depth to be used on its own. I think it helps us to organize our thoughts and define areas for change, see complexity, and see feedback loops, but it doesn’t show us how our own biases affect our maps. I think utilizing wicked problem maps as a space for stakeholders to map their own problems would allow us to make more accurate maps. We, as designers, could connect the maps later and perhaps define the leverage points, but we should not be the people making the maps.

    I think Chirag’s point above is indicative of this. Multiple perspectives are quite important for understanding a wicked problem; in fact, I would argue that multiple perspectives contribute to the wickedness of the problems themselves. We can’t take a god-like, all knowing stance as designers. We can’t have ego. We need to facilitate mapping rather than do it for people.

  26. I agree with Monica’s point above that systems thinking and the act of wicked mapping are valuable tools, but that the real value of this sort of exercise may be more fully realized when stakeholders and SMEs are incorporated into the process. Mapping a wicked map does help illustrate complexity and interconnectedness, but without stakeholder input or expertise in the subject area, the map may lack depth or just be a heavily biased perspective on the problem in question. One of the reasons the education team’s wicked map was so strong was because they have an embedded expert, Ashley, on their team who knows the school system inside and out from her work.

    Another aspect that our team discussed in this realm was the potential value of creating multiple wicked maps from various stakeholders in order to capture a diversity of perspectives. The task would then be the incorporate those wicked map into an aggregate wicked map, or just reference the individual ones as an example of the real complexity and perspectives inherit in these types of problems.

  27. I agree with my classmates comments on the importance of having the perspective of stakeholders represented in the exercise Our team talked about that a lot during the mapping process because of the dual role I tried to play as both stakeholder/expert and team member. It could be that in a more traditional design process the designer(s) could complete an iteration of the wicked problem map to share with stakeholders as a first draft for their input, do the work of incorporating their feedback, and arriving at a wicked problem map that better represents all perspectives–while at the same time having the stakeholders come to a better understanding of the problem and possible points of intervention. I thought the team working on water quality in Pittsburgh (because it was so timely!) did a great job of researching the topic and providing context—it would be really interesting to have the perspectives of city officials, community members, PWSA, etc on the work that they’ve already done as a next-step.

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