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The Social Innovation Imperative by Sandra M. Bates

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Chapter 1DEFINE THE SOCIAL CHALLENGE

Poverty, hunger, terrorism, natural disasters, environmental damage, lonely elderly, poor graduation rates, inaccessible health care—these are issues we know well. They have plagued us for generations because they are “wicked problems.”

Wicked problems are complex and involve several different constituents with competing objectives. They plague us because they defy our traditional means of problem solving: they are caused in numerous ways; they are interwoven and difficult to untangle. John Camillus, the author of the Harvard Business Review article, “Strategy as a Wicked Problem,” observes, “Not only do conventional processes fail to tackle wicked problems, but they may exacerbate situations by generating ...

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