Wicked Problems for Today’s Leaders

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My wife and I wanted to get a motion detector in our backyard. We had a backlight on the house already. The house was a new construction. The motion detector would be additional security. We estimated the price to be under $200.

When the electrician arrived, he talked with us about our needs and did a thorough inspection of the home. He came back with an estimate of over $600. He rationalized this price due to the configuration of our home and the difficulty of wiring this fixture.

My wife and I both wanted this motion detector. However, we were unwilling to pay the price for this addition. Thus, we needed to redefined the problem. We wanted this motion detector as extra security for the home. We asked the electrician what it would cost to change out the light fixture. He mentioned less than $80. The motion detector was about $50. By redefining or refocusing the problem, we were able to carryout a better solution. 

In search of more lucrative markets, today’s companies are looking for more opportunities across the globe. The United States is a land where dreams come true. Individuals from across the globe come to this country for possible opportunities. Yet, companies fail every day in the marketplace.

According to one study, the failure rate for new startups is about 46%. Botch understanding of your business competencies and market opportunities may put to be fatal. On the contrary, businesses that provide value to customers by solving their pressing problems are rewarded.

By solving someone’s challenging problems, individuals are compensated very well. Thus, solving ‘wicked problems’ could yield greater rewards.  In this session, we will discuss the concepts of wicked problems and introduces how organizations can solve them with effective leaders who provide a burst of innovative thinking.

Wicked problems are not a simple undertaking. In 1973, design theorists, Horst Rittel and Melvin M. Webber, coined the term “wicked problem” in reference to complicated problems. A wicked problem can be defined as “one for which each attempt to create a solution changes the understanding of the problem.

Wicked problems cannot be solved in a traditional linear fashion because the problem definition evolves as new possible solutions are considered and/or implemented.” Wicked problems in cases where constant change or unprecedented challenges. Wicked problems are disruptive to traditional thinking generating traits of confusion, discord, and dysfunction.[1]

These wicked problems have the following characteristics: (1) A lack of definitive formulation; (2) No predetermined rule that determines when a solution has been found; (3) Lack of immediate and ultimate tests of solutions; (4) Lack of criteria that indicate all solutions have been identified; and (5) The uniqueness of every wicked problem.[2] Some examples of today’s wicked problems in our time include poverty, aging, nuclear weapons, world hunger, poverty, race relations, and health issues like cancer. Even with the best intentions, wicked problems may take decades or centuries to solve.

Critical Video

The changing world needs more individuals (i.e., leaders) who can solve wicked problems. Ian Palmer, Richard Dunford, and David Buchanan, authors of Managing Organizational Change, suggest that it is critical that managers know how to facilitate change and tailor creative approaches to fit the different context. “Whatever the explanation, organizations are clearly faced with a variety of pressures to change, from different directions.”[3]  Successful companies understand that solving problems provide them immediate rewards.

Stephen Spinelli Jr. and Robert Adams, authors of New Venture Creation, further argue that the market will be handsomely rewarded: “At the heart of the process is an opportunity. Successful entrepreneurs and investors know that a good idea is not necessarily a good opportunity… In short, the greater the growth, size, durability, and robustness of the gross and net margins and free cash flow, the greater the opportunity.” Thus, wicked problems are market opportunities.

However, some people are not interested in solving the problem, but making such their rationale of why the problem cannot be solved. Given this internal resistance, effective leadership must be infused into the problem to tackle wicked problems. In this case, this situation calls for tagging the manager out of the wrestling ring with a wicked problem and bringing in a fresh opponent, an authentic leader.

Dr. Richard Daft, leadership, argues about the importance of utilizing creative people in organizations: “Leaders of today’s organizations have reasons to encourage creativity. They need employees to continually be contributing ideas in order to respond to challenges.”[4] Figuring out how to solve wicked problems is not easy (or everyone would be solving them). Management guru, Cara G. Parker, suggests the following steps to solve wicked problems:

  1. Solve the right problem.
  2. Pinpoint the stakeholders.
  3. Analyze the issues.
  4. Brainstorm possible solutions.
  5. Test the preferred solution.

In summary, today’s companies are looking for market opportunities. Solving wicked problems are opportunities that carry a maximum reward. Yet, traditional thinking will not solve wicked problems in general.

In this brief conversation,  I’ve demonstrated that there is value in the marketplace for solving wicked problems. In fact, the most unsolvable problems can be overcome with effective leaders who think outside of the box with innovative thinking. Yet, most organizations have individuals who are roadblocks in solving problems outside of the traditional methods. Failure to overcome resistance and implement innovative thinking to wicked problems can be fatal. Pray that it is not too late.

Please share your personal experience with the above subject.

© 2018 by Dr. Daryl D. Green

REFERENCES

[1]“Strategy as a Wicked Problem” by John Camillus

[2] “‘Wicked’Problems: What are they, and why are they of interest to NNSI Researchers?” by Katherine Cooper

[3] Managing Organizational Change by Ian Palmer, Richard Dunford, and David Buchanan

[4] Leadership by Richard Daft

[5]Solve your Wicked Problems in 5 Steps!” by Cara G. Parker

 

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Know Your Worth: Compensation Negotiation

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As I contemplated my next career move, I knew it was important to know my worth in the market. In a sense, the concept was foreign to me since I had worked 27 years in engineering for the public sector. In securing that job, the only thing that was negotiated was the time of employment.

My desire to have a second career outside of engineering into academia drove me to get meaningful experience as an adjunct professor. Of course, I felt my core competencies were strong as a professor. I had about ten years in academics working part-time. Yet, I also knew that obtaining a full-time tenure track would be highly competitive due to the limited amount of these treasured positions and the number of applicants. 

I personally knew of qualified business professors who could not obtain a full-time faculty position. To increase my marketability, I continued to secure new skill sets and to follow market trends. One of the biggest trends working for me was that many institutions were looking for new faculty who had demonstrated working experience.

Yet, in order to determine my worth, I had to actively apply for academic positions and go through the interview process. With every interview, each prospective employer provided me with a missing piece of my market worth. However, I got this insight by being assertive by asking meaningful questions like “what part of my application package attracted you to me as a candidate.”  

This transparency was contagious. One dean even told me my prospective rank (i.e. salary) in his organization. All of these pieces were critical in helping me negotiate my final position as a full-time faculty because I understood my worth in the marketplace.

In today’s competitive environment, working professionals need to know their worth so that they can be compensated appropriately and they can market themselves toward better jobs. In fact, professionals need to know how to market themselves and promote their personal brand in order to maintain their market worth. Downsizing and layoffs are a way of life for most U.S. businesses.

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The Future of Digital Marketing – Small Business Help

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Today’s customers can purchase a variety of items online with minimum effort. Given this scenario, brick and mortar companies are fighting to stay alive with the fierce internet competition. According to a 2017 survey conducted by Square and Mercury Analytics looking at 1,164 U.S. business owners, the following observations were made:

  • 96% of Americans with internet access have made an online purchase in their life, 80% in the past month alone.
  • 51% of Americans prefer to shop online.
  • 67% of Millennials and 56% of Gen Xers prefer to shop online rather than in-store.
  • Millennials and Gen Xers spend nearly 50% as much time shopping online each week (six hours) than their older counterparts (four hours).
  • 51% of seniors have shopped on marketplaces, 66% at large retailer sites, 30% on web stores or independent boutiques, and 44% at category-specific online stores.

Marketing professionals understand the importance of the internet and how to effectively leverage this power. According to Socialmedia.com, 90% of marketers use social media for their businesses. Sadly, many small businesses do not recognize this fact. Many businesses had opted to bury their heads in the sand in hopes that this ‘internet thing’ will go away. It hadn’t!

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Social Media Marketing Strategies by Guest Blogger Brenda Coleman

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Notwithstanding the arguably negative impact of social media on people today, according to the Daily Mail’s opinion, social networks are becoming more and more powerful. So are marketing opportunities for businesses. Business owners use social media sites as another channel to implement their branding and marketing strategies. If you think that it’s time for you to use this channel too, you will need to find out a few important things.

Simple Social Media Tips for Beginners
Let’s begin with the basics. What is social media marketing? Simply said, it’s all about using your company’s online profiles with marketing goals. There are many subtleties and tricks that help those goals be achieved, but they are all built on and around the fundamentals of social media business owners should know. Here they are.

#1 Search Is Your Everything
In order to gain followers’ attention, your must create an engaging media product. If you do want to use social media for business effectively, it will be wise for you to start with studying your audience and analyzing their interests, which could be easily done with a search option available on all platforms. When searching, ask yourself the following question: What lacks out there that could interest them?

You should aim at relevant groups – “travelers,” “dieticians,” or “vegans” – that make up your target audience. Find a catchy personality and scan his or her Facebook likes. Understanding what your potential customers are interested in will help you decide what kind of content they will love. Continue reading

Connecting The Dots Between Personal Competencies & Personal Branding

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With fierce competition for limited jobs, many college students wonder if they will be able to land a good job. Sadly, the economic situation feels like a bad dream. With a weak job growth, many U.S. jobs will continue to be outsourced globally or automated through technology. Yet, there are opportunities for those students who are prepared for the future.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, total employment in 2024 will reach 160.3 million, an increase from 2014 of almost 9.8 million jobs. The health care and social assistance sector will account for over a third of the nation’s projected job growth from 2014 to 2024. This article focuses on how building the right competencies will help individuals brand their personal brand and increase their opportunities for job opportunities.

As a result, today’s unemployed workers are unsure about their future. Many students struggle to pursue the right major in college. Others follow the latest trend on reality TV for selecting their ideal major. Finding the ideal job is a combination of personal interest/passion, values, and skills/abilities.

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Disruptive Change: How Leaders Navigate Uncertainty

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As companies continue to wage war with global competition and attempt to figure out their next steps due to advanced technologies, organizations are dealing with unpredictable change that is disruptive. In fact, disruptive change is impacting everyone in all walks of life, from Wall Street to entertainment. The casualties of disruptive change are evident.

In a statement to the Associated Press about joining a Silicon Valley boardroom, Serena Williams said, “I feel like diversity is something I speak to. Change is always happening. Change is always building. What is important to me is to be at the forefront of change and to make it easier for the next person.”   we will examine disruptive change and what leaders can do to navigate the resulting uncertainties.

Disruptive change is wrecking traditional thinking of industries and institutions. Long-standing organizations have long attempted to maintain the status quo, allowing flagship institutions like Harvard University and Princeton lead the pack. Non-traditional institutions, like the University of Phoenix, were frowned upon by academics because it was a for-profit university growing by using non-traditional models like online learning.

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New Product Development Strategies

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With the aftermath of globalization, companies are carefully thinking about the best ways to extend their product and service offering. Thus, product development strategy is critical for their success. Yet, many companies are in defensive mode and merely want to maintain the position in the market place.

However, staying in a holding position is a definite way for companies to be left behind. Innovative thinking that allows for product/service growth is a too sure way for sustainable success. In today’s discussion, we will explore the importance of product development for the growth of businesses, especially in a competitive market.

Launching into new product offerings is not easy. According to one market research, approximately 75% of consumer-packaged goods and retail products fail to earn even $7.5 million during their first year.[1] Harvard Business School Professor, Clayton Christensen, who is the world’s foremost authority on disruptive innovation, suggests that the failure rate of new products may actually be as high as 95%. Product failure rates relate to the number of products that are launched commercially but fail. Continue reading

2017 Job Strategies for Recent Graduates

College-grad-Job Hunt

When the graduation celebrations have ended, many recent graduates must consider what they are going to do with their lives. Boy, how things have changed! When I was in college (the 1980s), it was an unspoken rule for college seniors to have a few job offers and have a good concept of what they would be doing. In fact, the question, “where do you see yourself in five years” is a standard question of college recruiters on campus. Answer this question timidly or with revocation, and you were assured not to get a follow-interview. Go home to live with parents was not on my radar or any of my close friends.’

Yet, when I started talking with my students and other graduates from other institutions, the clarity of what they were going to do after college life was murky at best. Surprisingly, the majority of the graduating seniors did not have any idea of what they were going to do. Perhaps, it is generational because Millenniums have a different outlook than Baby Boomers or Generation Xers. However, this mentality is nothing new to me. Working for the federal government for over 25 years, I found this mindset while visiting university campuses across the country.

The situation caused me to research this matter and write my book, Job Strategies for the 21st Century: How to Assist Today’s College Students during Economic Turbulence. I attempted to assist frustrated parents, anxious students, bewildered educators, and others who are deeply concerned about the welfare of recent college graduates and their employability.

job strategies-Amazon

With my co-author, William Bailey, we discovered a huge disconnect between what organizations desired from potential employees, and what today’s job seekers expect of employers. In this discussion, we will examine 2017 job strategies to assist recent college graduates, their parents, or other supporters in how to increase their success in employment.

The economic picture should give recent college graduates some hope. According to the Blackrock Investment Institute’s 2017 quarterly market report, economic opportunities continue to increase. Global growth expectations are on the rise. While the United States provided most of the economic growth in 2016, non-U.S. entities created the global stimulus for economic growth in 2017. In fact, earnings upsurge was particularly strong in Japan and emerging markets despite terrorism abroad, government stability, and uncertainty in the EU countries.

Focusing more closely on the United States, individuals should feel positive about employment prospects for recent college graduates. According to a recent National Association of Colleges and Employers, the top bachelor’s degree, which would be in the highest demand, was business administration and management. Of the 169 surveyed employers, 86 stated they intended to hire graduates with this degree.

In another college employment study by CareerBuilder.com, 74% of employers planned to hire more recent college graduates this year (up from 67% from 2016). Half of these employers planned to offer recent college graduates higher pay than last year; 39% of these surveyed employers would start recent graduates with $50,000 or more (compared to 27% in 2017).

The most sought after majors for these employers were: Business (30%), Engineering (26%), Computer and Information Sciences (23%), Engineering (16%), Communications Technologies (13%), Mathematics/Statistics (11%), Construction Trades (11%), and Health Professionals/Related Clinical Sciences (10%). With this positive job outlook, college graduates cannot afford to relax because of the continual changes in the job market.

Recent college graduates must enhance their job strategies. In today’s competitive environment, getting a job in one’s major is not easy. In fact, more experienced and older workers are now competing for entry-level jobs. Companies are more demanding due to the surplus of seasoned and young talent before them.

With globalization causing more U.S. companies to compete, many businesses are turning to technology (i.e. automation) and foreign-born talent to offset any workforce shortages. Thus, employers are very picky about prospective employees. For example, some graduates who were excellent students with high GPAs without any experience might find themselves on the outside if they compete against work experience.

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According to the Economic Policy Institute, one in eight colleges graduating class of 2016 were under-employed. Underemployed relates to those individuals in the college-educated workforce that are doing jobs that don’t require a college degree or not in their intended major. With that said, those unemployed individuals would prefer to be working in their major full-time. In the Office of the New York City Comptroller’s 2016, the study found that, by 2014, Millennials were making about 20 percent less in real terms than what older generations made during their first years in the labor force. Thus, recent graduates cannot afford to misunderstand the job market.

Peter Cappelli, the author of Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs, notes that the impersonal nature of the current employment process: “Like a replacement part, job requirements have very precise specifications. Job candidates must fit them perfectly, or the job won’t be filled, and the business can’t operate.” In a surplus market with numerous potential candidates, employees can be picky.

When a list of prospective applicants does not meet the requirements, many times, these positions are left unfilled. Sadly, most job seekers have not figured this reality out. Yet, loaded with the right attitude and good job strategies, recent graduates can ensure themselves of better success in this job market. The following are the 2017 job strategies for more employability:

  1. Possess a good character that makes you an attractive person.
  2. Connect your ideal job with your interest, skills/abilities, and value/belief system.
  3. Build an effective personal brand, including an online personality connected to Linkedin.com and critical online networks.
  4. Pursue additional education and certifications (i.e. Google digital marketing certifications) that separate you from the competition.
  5. Use daily positive self-affirmations about your skills and abilities to keep your energy level positive.
  6. Build an incredible professional network for identifying job opportunities.
  7. Learn how to seek out critical advice and mentorship, but develop the capacity to use it.
  8. Develop a questioning attitude about life to promote problem solving.
  9. Network with subject matter experts, industry leaders, and highly successful people to increase your job opportunities.
  10. Target desired positions and apply periodically (daily, weekly, etc.) so that you are actively engaged in new employment.

In today’s difficult economy, college graduates must be more assertive despite the positive forecast for employment. Getting a job isn’t easy. This article describes 2017 job strategies to assist recent college graduates to become successful in today’s employment landscape.

Unlike when their parents were starting their careers, many Millennials will face future employers that have a variety of job options to fill a job vacancy. Individuals who understand the new mindset of current employers will have a better chance of successfully navigating the employment landmines.

Yet, a savvy job seeker understands these employment changes and makes the necessary corrections to make his/her personal brand attractive to potential employers. If individuals want to be more effective in their job hunt for 2017, they can use these job strategies to navigate future career challenges. Pray that it is not too late.

© 2017 by Daryl D. Green

 

Cultural Intelligence: How Leaders Can Navigate the Racial Divide in America

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In June of 1995, the Jury in the OJ Simpson trial announced a verdict of not guilty. The aftermath of dismal reactions highlighted significant conflicts and diverging views in America’s workplaces. In fact, white and black people had a different perspective on the OJ Simpson Trial and life in general. Eighty-three percent of whites stated that Simpson was “definitely” or “probably” guilty while only fifty-seven percent of blacks agreed with this assessment. Rather than carefully assessing one’s own viewpoint when evaluating a different culture, most individuals make assumptions about other cultures definitely.

Sadly, we still have not learned this lesson in the United States. The last several days have been very hectic as I try to answer students’ questions and address my own concerns about a recent Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary gaff that has provided another headwind for others sharing the Good News. Let me say that we have all done foolish things and have suffered the consequences. Most of us have had to debase the impacts of this photo on our popular culture to our students and others.

In the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth (TX), five seminary professors, including the dean of the School of Preaching, put on gangster-style clothing (perhaps dressing like urban rappers), flashing their gold chains and one holding a handgun. Written above the photo were the words “Notorious S.O.P,” which was a reference to the seminary’s School of Preaching and to the black rapper, Notorious B.I.G.

the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary-photo

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LinkedIn – What It Is and Why College Students Should Care – Guest Blogger

College is a beginning. It is a time and place to begin to learn who you are, what you want and what is possible. College is also a place that the institution can teach you a lot, but what you learn yourself is even more important.

College taught me how to take tests about things I can’t for the life of me remember now in classes I couldn’t possibly see as relevant to my degree.

Yet what my college did not directly teach me, that I learned on my own, was balance. I had a full load, was on the dance team, participated in the theatre and worked a part time job. I had to learn how to balance all those things in eventually earning that degree.

It is also a place that, for many, will serve as the last step before entering the “real world” – after graduation getting that “real” job.

Although many universities and colleges have career centers to help you with that task – and they are wonderful, take them up on all the help offered, there is also something you need to learn in order to help yourself: marketing.

Before you graduate you need to begin to market yourself because once you are out in the ‘real world’ you are going to be thrust into sales. You are the product and the company. You have to learn to sell yourself to potential employers and pretty much anyone in a business sense that you meet in order to secure a position. That last part is called networking. Continue reading