I like the term 'wicked problems.' And not just because I am from Boston.
The term refers to public policy problems with extraordinary amounts of uncertainty--climate change being the quintessential example. Wicked problems are the really hard stuff. Stuff the most reasonable people in the world can disagree about, stuff the most intelligent people in the world can get wrong.
Everyone wants to pull a lever and fix the whole problem--and many think they can. But there are thousands of levers, and we do not know where most of them are. And even when we do know where the levers are, pulling them can make things worse!
Whack-a-mole with higher stakes.
It's tempting to take an anecdote to heart. Or to base our decision on a quick tally of how others are responding.
However, solving wicked problems requires innovation and experimentation. And most of all, it requires broad networks of stakeholders--people, businesses, and policymakers--effectively learning from each other, sharing best practices, and applying lessons learned.
My intention is not to solve these wicked problems--I don't know how to. No one person holds the answer. That's the point.
Instead, I'm pulling the smallest levers I can find, and helping others to do the same.
I think it's the only way to do it.