Wicked problem examples: Organisational change management

Many wicked problems occur at the global level – like obesity, or climate change. But you can also face wicked problems within your organisation. Think of issues like strategy, radical brand differentiation, employee engagement – all of these have the markers of wicked problems.

Take the challenge of change management - which is the process to manage the people side of change in order to achieve an organisational
outcome. Change is a vital part of any organisation’s growth, and a pre-requisite for organisations to stay relevant in an increasingly fast-paced and competitive operating context. But many organisations struggle to motivate and engage their employees in the change process, and over 70% of all change processes fail.

Why is this a Wicked Problem?

  • Multiple root causes
    People are resistant to change for many reasons: they may be fearful, indifferent, or lack the necessary incentives. The change process itself might move too fast and leave people behind, or it may not extend over enough time to truly take root. 
  • Interconnected
    to employee engagement, organisational culture.
  • No 'stopping rule'
    Once you’ve been through a formal change programme, is it possible to know that the change process is ‘complete’?
  • Difficult to measure
    the success of specific efforts or initiatives. Because change management deals with human psychology at a collective level, it’s particularly difficult to make attributions.