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Entrepreneurs & Wicked Problems

Brief overview delivered at 10.10.10 on April 12, 2016.

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Entrepreneurs & Wicked Problems

  1. 1. Entrepreneurs and Wicked Problems Paul Hudnut 10.10.10 Denver 4.12.16
  2. 2. Q1: What Sucks? Q2: What might I do about it?
  3. 3. Types of Problems • Critical Problems – Crisis: famine, disease outbreak, natural disaster – Quick and decisive action needed – Actions required are clear cut (food, medicine, shelter) • Tame Problems – Has been solved before (maybe in another area) – Standard operating procedures – Can be complicated, but not complex – Building a bridge • Wicked Problems
  4. 4. Long Definition: Wicked Problems 1. No definitive formulation 2. No “stopping rule” 3. Solutions are good/bad; not true/false (judgment based) 4. No ultimate test for a solution 5. Every attempt counts- consequences can’t be undone (unintended consequences likely) 6. There is not an exhaustive set of potential solutions. 7. Each is unique. 8. Often a symptom of another wicked problem. 9. Involve many stakeholders with different perspectives. 10.Problem solver is liable for consequences. Rittel & Weber 1973
  5. 5. Wicked Problems • Short definition? Systemic & stubborn • To violate rule 1, here are some examples: – Unsustainable harvesting of ocean fish – Over production of Greenhouse Gasses (GHG) – Addiction to drugs and alcohol • Once you have a wicked problem, what do you do with it?
  6. 6. A) Go read a book about it B) Start building your app C) Talk about it with others D) Take a nap E) None of the above F) All of the above
  7. 7. Entrepreneurial Approaches to Wicked Problems • Know the problem well, before thinking you know how to address it – Look for gaps you can bridge – Cut it down to size • Look for bright spots (positive deviance/ deviants) – Study differences- in culture, incentives, power, behavior – Figure out what can be replicated • Think about analogous systems and networks that are more resilient (or even anti-fragile) – What can you borrow? • Building trust between diverse stakeholders
  8. 8. H.E.R.O.’ic Enterprises • Produce cleaner air, cleaner water, health, justice • Find value in waste • Prevent pollution, disease • Restore/regenerate ecosystems and communities
  9. 9. “Most people look at a company like Apple and think, how could I ever make such a thing? Apple is an institution, and I'm just a person. But every institution was at one point just a handful of people in a room deciding to start something. Institutions are made up, and made up by people no different from you.” Paul Graham, A Student’s Guide to Start Ups 2006
  10. 10. Q: Do you have an example, Paul?
  11. 11. Envirofit International • “Making the world fit for humanity.” • Sophisticated combustion technology • Inexpensive (affordable) products • Mfrg and logistics • Carbon and micro finance
  12. 12. Yeah…but that’s just one example 1. Inviragen 2. Watsi 3. One Acre Fund 4. Mothers2Mothers 5. LivingGoods 6. Digital Divide Data 7. 8. Last Mile Health
  13. 13. “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.” Henry David Thoreau
  14. 14. Caution • What types of ownership are appropriate, and how will this change over time? – What does exit mean? Built in vs bolted on … • Motivation matters- effective altruism requires definition of effectiveness for whom… – Beware of “helping” others – Learning posture – Building relationships • A commercial transaction has mutuality that isn’t there with a gift