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Wicked Problems & Designer Possibilities

Tips and hints on making performance happen…

The more senior you become, the older you become, the more complex things seem to become – problems just seem to get more wicked!. More stakeholders to satisfy. Greater consequences of failure. Higher expectations. Shorter time frames. Etc, etc.

As a committed human being, what options do you have beyond hiding under the duvet? You can try and be clever – look for causes of problems – ask WHY? However, when you look into problems, you find more problems, you become “problem saturated.”

The lines between real, perceived and completely made up problems become obscure – helplessness can become a close companion. A different option, rather than to look backwards into problems, is to look forwards into possibilities.

Ask: What does success look like? How would I know things were moving forward? What would life look like if problems were absent? Suspend your judgement and answer these questions – coming up with at least 30 bullet points (50 if you’re up for a challenge). Then step back – what you’ll start discovering are the clues and signposts to make progress – possibilities around which you can design your own ways forward.

The morale of this blog? Thinking problems makes you an expert in problems; thinking possibilities makes you an expert in progress. Sit with this sentiment for a while and see if it makes sense. Better still, experiment with it and see what happens. You’ve got nothing to lose.

(Thanks to Evan George at for the quote: “Thinking problems makes you an expert in problems; thinking possibilities makes you an expert in progress”)

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One Response to Wicked Problems & Designer Possibilities

  1. The art of possibility is a book Adie introduced me to some time ago, not only did I find it so motivational but it also helped me to see the beauty in creating a learning environment which is not just based on curriculum or what or how you are teaching but one that opens the mind to think outside the box and be more imaginative . The outcome of all this was the creation of an Integrated Learning Campus with learning places for all ages and all abilities where people can come and see opportunities for themselves and be open to the possibilities of progression and developing further. A revolving door of possibilities where people come back for more.
    What does success look like for me in this context? People coming back for more!

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