Wicked Problems in Society
Prof Richard Buchanan, Professor of Design & Innovation of Weatherhead at Case Western Reserve University, defines wicked problems as “essential value conflicts having diverse participants with different perspectives and needs with no best solution.” Applying the “four orders of design” to explain where Hong Kong is today, Richard said Hong Kong was a great success in the development of the first and second orders, which is about graphic and industrial design. However, the world is now moving toward the third and four orders, which is in the domain of wicked problems — the art and science of designing services, practices, systems and environment. Using the award winning case of breast cancer diagnostics in Norway, he demonstrated design could be the catalyst to identify the way to address wicked problems.
Paul Bennett, Chief Creative Officer at IDEO, shared the story of Palmwood, a joint venture between IDEO and the UAE government. It is a design-led movement creating bold new solutions for governments and organizations, developing creative capabilities in the people of the UAE, and opening up new conversations about what is possible through design. So far they have done 12 projects together, including empowering creative leadership in the next generation, exploring big questions together in a space built for radical collaboration, rethinking ageing, defining the meaninging of wellness, and increasing kids’ food curiosity and creativity. Future projects are scoped through a collaborative process, looking at unmet societal needs and challenges in the region. “The most interesting part for me is being an outsider giving permission to actually talk about the things that are going on inside the culture” he said.
Dr Dirk F de Korne, Deputy Director of Medical Innovation and Care Transformation at KK Women’s & Children’s Hospital in Singapore, shared his experience of applying design and technology to create simple solutions to problems in the hospital. A common problem doctors and nurses face was forgetting to clean their hands before touching a patient. It’s a basic thing but it could lead to fatal problems to the patients. The solution was that the doctor is reminded (through simple technology) to clean their hands when they are about to touch the patient. “Let technology do the standard stuff so that we humans can focus on the high touch,” he said.