Wicked problems offer opportunities


Better Business needs to be recognized as not only a necessity for the future of our humanity but also for the huge business opportunity it presents. The Better Business Playbook is designed to inspire you, as a business leader, to go beyond business as usual - and consider the vast strategic opportunities connected to Better Business. Starting with the opportunities that reside in environmental sustainability and climate change. While these issues contain imminent threats that need to be urgently addressed, they also offer the kind of hairy, wicked, thorny challenges that business is particularly well-equipped to figure out and able to do good in the process.

A wicked problem is a difficult or impossible problem to solve because of incomplete, contradictory, and/or changing requirements that are often challenging to recognize. The world’s unprecedented environmental and social challenges are tremendously wicked. Seeing that climate change is striking harder and more rapidly than expected, the Global Risk Report has stressed the urgent need to take action by 2030.

That gives us less than a decade to face the threats of climate change. And we cannot afford to fail. Climate change is, of course, not the only wicked problem on the horizon. Wicked problems are in plentiful supply. They also offer interesting business opportunities for those who dare to go the extra mile. Elon Musk and Tesla is a great example of a visionary leader seeing a business opportunity in a wicked problem.

In the years to come, we believe that Better Business will emerge from appreciating and understanding the wicked problems that are already upon us, and developing solutions and business models that address customer needs while also helping to solve important dilemmas.

How? Understanding the SDGs is a first step for you as a business leader to navigate the global challenges. This is especially pertinent when it comes to realizing which challenges your company can contribute to solving, as well as where you could focus your efforts.

In business lingo, wicked problems, such as climate change and the related changes in consumer values, politics, and regulations could also be viewed as inflection points. As such, they have a potentially vast impact on businesses across the globe.


An inflection point is a moment where a certain change in your business environment will mean a dramatic change to your business.  Used strategically, this turning point can poise your business for bigger things. It can create new spaces – blue oceans – and destroy outdated technologies and business models. As such, it represents both opportunities and threats. An inflection point even has the power to bring about exponential change. Even though it feels like this change is sudden, it has quite possibly been gestating for some time. It normally develops gradually – out of scope for many - and then it suddenly seems evident. Hence, it can be spotted early and in time to react for those who scan the horizon and can pre-emptively make sense of what is happening.

As such, inflection points may mean that you need to change the very assumptions on which your company was founded in the first place. In this light, strategic renewal is vital for any business to survive inflection points long-term. Without strategic renewal, a company is destined for decline as it fails to remain relevant and value-adding. The most important question that you need to answer right now is whether you are at an inflection point or not. And if so, what are you going to do about it?

Here and now we recommend you download and read the Better Business Playbook to get some ideas about what those in the frontline are currently doing to address their inflection points.

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