Wicked Problems in Design Thinking

                In short, this essay opens up by introducing the concept that design thinking cannot traditionally be thought as a linear science undertaken by a formulaic approach before a hypothesis is finally reached. In the 1960’s a mathematician and designer named Horst Rittel proposed an alternative to classic design thinking of as a ‘step by step’ process by introducing what he coined as the Wicked Approach. This approach served as the notion that designers are forced with unique problems not solvable in a traditional manner. These problems, (nicknamed by Rittel as ‘Wicked Problems’) are a “class of social system problems which are ill-formulated, where the information is confusing, where there are many clients and decision makers with conflicting values and where the ramifications in the whole system are thoroughly confusing”. In short, designers are faced with indeterminate problems throughout the whole process while a linear process is based on determinacy. In design, there is no determinacy, but only chaos, endless explanations, hypotheses that can never be reached, uniqueness, as well as no sense of right or wrong. Although exhaustive, this list of the chaos of design is only partial, the true culprit is subjectivity. The fact that design is seen differently by everyone (and unfortunately everyone with no experience thinks they have an opinion) is the most wicked of all problems designers are faced with. In closing, designers must figure out a unique rational approach to their design process and find peace with the fact that the problems their problems are unique, in a constant state of flux, and the subject of relentless subjectivity. The only way a designer can overcome the wicked issues they are faced with is by the use of practicality and better design thinking.