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Wicked Problems, Wicked Opportunities

Many people, such as non-governmental organisations (NGOs), social entrepreneurs, health professionals, governments, international development institutions and businesses are combining so that they can deal with problems that are challenging them and in their communities where people live. Organisations like the ones in the examples have started working together much more than before. They have started to change how they see wicked problems and started to see them as wicked opportunities (Eggers and Muoio, 2015).

These organisations have formed networks in different regions in the world known as solution ecosystems to help each other to deal with wicked problems like malaria and access to water, hygiene and sanitation (WASH) which are known as wicked problems because they are very complex dynamic and seem intractable; this means that the problems are caused by many different reasons which can come about and change with time. Wicked problems also will never have one right answer (Eggers & Muoio, 2015). For this reason, the entities have formed solution ecosystems around problems that are seen as wicked in society so as to view them from a different angle to see them as wicked opportunities, that is, the opposite of wicked problems.

According to Eggers & Muoio, 2015, it is a must to have capabilities which are also challenging to put in place; the problem solvers have to understand how the specific solution ecosystem works, and they also have to cooperate with other members in the ecosystem to consult with each other the way forward and they also need resources to help them to tackle the wicked problems. They have demonstrated the main factors that make the enterprise to be viable.

The main factor that has helped people to join forces to try to solve wicked problems in their communities include, awareness through the internet and other technology such as social media which leads to better understanding of the problems. Business corporations have also helped a lot in terms of committing resources to fight the wicked problems in the communities which they operate even though investing in societal issues do not bring back direct profit like in the case of Newmont Mining in Ghana. The business corporations have participated a lot because then commerce will be able to thrive which will make the business thrive also. NGOs as well have contributed much according to Eggers & Muoio (2015); for example, private philanthropy to international NGOs is more now than the money contributions of all governments combined (Eggers & Muoio, 2015).

Furthermore, Eggers & Muoio, 2015 foresee the implication of starting an ecosystem and also sustaining it. For solution ecosystems to continue to succeed, the different members have to work together. The business leaders have to be committed to social goals and they also have to work effectively with other leaders and members of the ecosystem, foundation donors and impact investors also need to be open minded and resourceful in the communities which they work to solve the problems; the government also has an important role to play to encourage the solution ecosystems to be formed. For example, offering prizes, challenges, and incentives such as social impact bonds, and pay-for-success approaches such as using large-scale procurement budgets so that there can be markets for them.

Taking for example the wicked problem of crime in many parts of the world, we can form a solution ecosystem surrounding crime and the members can include: citizen change makers who can form community networks and provide other members in the solution ecosystem with first-hand awareness of citizens’ needs; governments which can facilitate the citizens efforts and support them; investors and related entities like the clergy can also help to solve crime by investing resources in social activities such as sports and art which can help to keep members of the community who are likely to do crime, especially young adults, engaged in these and such other activities which can also become their occupation and it can also help to solve another wicked problem –unemployment. The clergy of various faiths can contribute by inviting their members to be involved. If it succeeds, such an initiative can be fully adopted as a path for forming and nurturing future generations of problem solvers.


Eggers, W. & Muoio Anna, 2015. Wicked Opportunities. Deloitte University Press. Retrieved from:


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