Strategies and Visual Tools to Resolve Wicked Problems

Mari Suoheimo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Contemporary design has extended its borders from information, product, and service design to tame wicked problems. This article sees it as important to equip design professionals with tools designed specifically for wicked problems, as using tools for simple problems for wicked ones may hinder the process. This is even more important today as designers, especially in the fields of service, social, and transition design, face more and more social issues that are wicked in their nature. Through literature review, it was sought to understand the characteristics of the wicked problems and the visual tools to tame them, like Mess MappingTM, Dialogue Mapping, General Morphological Analysis, and others. One of the findings is that designers should play a collaborative and intermediary role in a group solving/taming wicked problems. This article stresses the importance of a collaborative strategy in wicked problem solving in comparison with competitive and authoritarian strategies. It is important to recognize the role of design in addressing contemporary problems that acquire change. Based on the analysis of the tools, future studies in the area are recommended: to improve the visual ergonomics of the tools; compare the tools designed exclusively for the wicked problems with the ones that can also be used for simple problems; and discuss in the future how these tools work in collaboration with listening and empathy. This is also important because, after all, these tools are all related to complex stakeholder management. Designers should also be better equipped with organizational change and management studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-41
Number of pages17
JournalThe International Journal of Design Management and Professional Practice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019
MoEC publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Wicked Problems
  • Visual Tools for Wicked Problems
  • Collaborative, Competitive and Authoritarian Strategies

Field of science

  • Visual arts and design


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