Wicked Problems: Open Innovation Ecosystem Solutions

wicked problems image of a maze

Wicked problems are multi-layered, complex and dynamic issues that are very difficult to resolve. However, in recent years the open innovation system has been instrumental in tackling them by bringing innovators together with struggling businesses.

What are Wicked Problems?

Wicked problems aren’t evil or nasty. They are just incredibly difficult to identify, manage, and solve. At times, solutions resolve one aspect of a wicked problem, but complicate another.

As an example, social media now drives much of our technological era. This disruptive technology lets us share and connect, but it can also lead to negative outcomes such as loss of control over personal data and even online attacks.

However, blocking social media access restricts freedom of access to information. Stakeholder values may radically differ and what one party might see as a perfectly good solution could be seen as a violation of rights by another. Additionally, a wicked problem can escalate or evolve quickly.

Alternative to Traditional Problem-Solving

As the scale of business complexity grows, so do wicked problems. Companies must address more difficult data, engineering, platform, technical, social, cultural, and regulatory issues. However, aspects of business interconnect and wicked problems can have innumerable causes.

Consequently, it is impossible for one part of a business to resolve problems that reverberate throughout the company. In some cases, conventional problem-solving processes actually exacerbate situations by generating undesirable consequences.

As a result, addressing wicked problems require a broad mix of expertise as well as great agility and flexibility. Nonetheless, few companies have the human resources to adeptly manage the complexity and fluidity of wicked problems in-house.

Additionally, within a company’s industry, it can be near-impossible to find suitable expertise due to the ongoing tech shortage. Their current processes can also be too slow to quickly adapt to change.

Accordingly, the only viable way to solve wicked problems is through external collaboration which often includes a cross-industry team. Collaboration must be fluid and responsive during every step of the innovation process.

Benefits of Open Innovation Ecosystem

The traditional method of finding solutions against wicked problems just doesn’t work. These problems are difficult to define, complicated, value-laden, and sometimes volatile. Subsequently, decisionmakers tend to choose simplistic solutions that don’t address the true causes on the problems.

Instead, companies need to increase the flow of knowledge to accelerate innovation, both in their organisation and through collaboration. By venturing beyond the limitations of internal capabilities and their physical location, they can tap into more disruptive innovations that can actually address their wicked problems.

An open innovation ecosystem is extremely beneficial in this respect as it can increase agility and flexibility, making it easier to handle wicked problems. Many innovators already have their eye on the problems of the future and are working tirelessly to fight against them. What they offer can give any business an edge, without starting the innovation process from the ground up.

Creating a Wicked Problem Strategy

Understandably, companies can struggle with wicked problems. They’re so complicated and diverse and technological options can also be overwhelming. However, it is possible to overcome these obstacles by partnering with an experienced, knowledgeable partner.

EarlyBirds offers expertise, Subject Matter Experts, and an expansive marketplace of new and disruptive technologies. We also offer unique programs for ad hoc or supplementary needs, as well as ongoing transformational support.

EarlyBirds Innovation Ecosystem

The EarlyBirds Innovation Ecosystem is a Business-to-Business portal connecting Innovators, Early Adopters, and Subject Matter Experts. Early Adopters are leaders or influencers in an organisation eager to identify new and disruptive technologies. They want to seize opportunities, solve business challenges, or create new products and services.

The Ecosystem has a data pool of over 4 million global innovations that may already address your organization’s challenges. Alternatively, organisations can list their challenges and request solutions from innovators.

EarlyBirds Explorer Program

The Explorer Program is tailored towards those who need innovation as a service to supplement existing innovation programs, or to conduct innovation projects when required.

EarlyBirds Challenger Program

The Challenger Program focuses on a single organisational or technical challenge. It looks for the most relevant innovators that meet your organisational, technical, and risk requirements.

The program is run by an EarlyBirds Subject Matter Expert who identifies your key issues. The SME then searches the data pool to identify and curate options for further evaluation. The most suitable option is chosen and the SME drafts a roadmap of next steps, POC, trial, or implementation.


EarlyBirds helps organisations plot a path towards innovation. Let us help you find direction and accelerate your innovation, internally or through external collaboration.

Our resources offer innovative solutions and expertise. We’ve helped businesses in many sectors including Our expertise extends to Retail, the Food Industry, Public Sector, Operations & Maintenance, Manufacturing, Finance & Insurance, Energy, Education, Cybersecurity, and more.

If you’re interested in partnering for success, please register at https://earlybirds.io/, or contact us to discuss your needs.