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4D Leadership

4D Leadership – Competitive Advantage Through Vertical Leadership Development

Twenty years ago the accumulation of skills, knowledge and experience (‘horizontal development’) was sufficient for business success. Today, it’s not. 4D Leadership – Competitive Advantage Through Vertical Leadership Development, offers a new approach of ‘vertical development’.

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Some problems are ‘well wicked’ … what can we do?

In short … we need to come up with wicked solutions.

Many of the problems we face in the world today are beyond complicated. It makes finding a solution a real challenge. In my new book, co-authored with writer, philosopher and thought leader, Ken Wilber, we suggest that wicked problems need wicked answers and this is the only wise way to approach such intractable issues.

Wicked problems aren’t new – Professor Horst W J Rittel first referred to them back in 1967 – but they are probably more widespread than ever before. The nightly news is a seemingly endless reminder of all the persistent wicked problems we currently face. The reasons we seem to make little progress is that our traditional problem solving tools and techniques are simply inadequate to deal with the scale and complexity of the issue.

In our book Wicked & Wise: How to Solve the World’s Toughest Problems, we suggest there are six key properties that must be understood before real progress can be made:

1. A wicked problem is multi-dimensional
2. A wicked problem has multiple stakeholders
3. A wicked problem has multiple causes
4. A wicked problem has multiple symptoms
5. A wicked problem has multiple solutions
6. A wicked problem is constantly evolving

Each aspect of the wicked problem must be addressed appropriately. For example, if the wicked problem involves multiple stakeholders, then the solution must involve and collaborate with all those multiple stakeholders.

The solution has to be complicated because the problem is complicated. There are no quick fix, simple solutions for complex issues such as climate change, poverty, education, governance, equality, terrorism etc. These are wicked problems that can’t even be explained easily, never mind solved easily. All too often we seem more interested in the sound bites about a problem, the headlines or the Tweet-able facts, than actually really unpacking the problem and getting to grips with it properly.

‘Integral Coherence’ defines a wise way forward that allows us to feel our way through the problem in a thorough and systematic way so we can discover new emergent ‘better’ solutions as we go. Of course implementing Integral Coherence requires complex judgement, high levels of intelligence and maturity so as to dynamically steer the evolving solution to the evolving problem and manage the issue in real time.

These wicked problems can be solved—and we need to start solving them and keep solving them today (and tomorrow and a hundred years from now).

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Dr Alan Watkins

Alan is recognised as an international expert on leadership and human performance. He has a broad mix of commercial, academic, scientific and technological abilities.


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