Unravel Your ‘Wicked’ Problems the 4 C Way

With the Red Sox World Series win still fresh, you might be tempted to think “wicked” problems are a uniquely Boston concern.

They’re not. This DisruptHR talk, which took place in Chicago, is about dealing with problems so complex a solution is neither obvious nor simple, hence they are “wicked.” “A wicked problem,” says LaTonya Wilkins, director of talent management at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, “Is incomprehensible, contradictory and interdependent.”

Solving global warming was the example she used of a truly wicked problem. HR’s wicked problems — some of which, Wilkins said, were of the profession’s own making — are things like the gender pay gap and discrimination.

The bad news about wicked problems? “They can’t really be solved.”

The good news is there is a way to “unravel them,” Wilkins says. You can do that by employing what she described as “the 4 Cs”: Collaboration, Congruence, Continuity and Calculation.

Article Continues Below

How does these help HR people work through wicked problems? Here’s a sample — watch the 5 minute video for the details:

  • “To navigate wicked problems you have to collaborate outside the organization.”
  • Test the ideas you get. “Are they congruent with your organization?”
  • Continuity means “thinking about our decisions on the longer term.”
  • Calculate before implementing.

In partnership with DisruptHR, TLNT presents some of the best Disrupt presentations from events across North America and now the world. Disrupt talks are modeled on the TEDx concept: Short, to the point talks on all things HR — talent, culture and technology.

DISRUPT is an information exchange designed to energize, inform and empower people in the HR field.

Founded by Disrupt's CEO Jennifer McClure, events are organized by volunteer teams working with Disrupt staff who assist in the planning. Events have a maximum of 14 speakers, who get 5 minutes and no more than 20 slides for their presentation.

Interested in organizing a DisruptHR event in your city? Here's how to get started.