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Wicked Strategies

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Wicked Strategies

How Companies Conquer Complexity and Confound Competitors

University of Toronto Press,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

“Wicked problems” respond only to “wicked strategies.”

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Applicable


In business, problems come with the territory. These include the easy ones, the hard ones and the “wicked” ones – convoluted, intransigent challenges that don’t yield to conventional business analysis or tactics. Strategic management professor John C. Camillus lays out a comprehensive “wicked strategies” plan. getAbstract found much to like in this thorough if complex manual. His combinations of concepts aren’t always easy to track, but his fresh analysis and scenario strategies are wicked good.


“Wicked Problems” Have Wicked Characteristics

Wicked problems are paradoxical and defy understanding. They’re impervious to standard analytical tools. They seem incomprehensible and unsolvable. What makes them seem intractable is that when you apply traditional solutions – thinking they’ll work – wicked problems morph into something new that is more complex and confusing.

While wicked problems are daunting, they present previously unavailable opportunities your organization can exploit to achieve new levels of success and profitability. A wicked problem has five essential characteristics:

  1. The problem largely has no precedent.
  2. The affected stakeholders are diverse and hold conflicting interests.
  3. The problem exists for many reasons, all inextricably linked.
  4. The business’s leaders can’t be certain a solution exists.
  5. The essence of the problem changes depending on the proposed solutions.


Wicked corporate problems arise due to three interacting megaforces, and the intersection of these three powerful drives can rip a firm apart or refresh it ...

About the Author

Since 1991, John C. Camillus has held the Donald R. Beall Chair in Strategic Management at the University of Pittsburgh’s Katz Graduate School of Business, where he served as Associate Dean – the COO and chief academic officer – from 1982 to 1990. Camillus also taught previously at the MBA program at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.

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