Our goal was to see if we could get students to stop admiring problems and work rapidly on solving them. As Wicked and Lean seem to be mutually exclusive, this was a pretty audacious undertaking.

This five-week class was going to be our MVP.

Here’s what happened.

Finding The Problems
Professor Garcia scoured the world to find eight Wicked/complex problems for students to work on. He presented to organizations in the Netherlands, Chile, Spain, the UK (Ministry of Defense and the BBC), and aerospace companies. The end result was a truly ambitious, unique, and international set of curated Wicked problems.

We held an info session explaining the problems and the unique parts of the class. We were going to share with them a “Swiss Army Knife” of traditional tools to understand Wicked/Complex problems, but they were not going to research these problems in the library. Instead, using the elements of Lean methodology, they were going to get out of the building and observe the problems first-hand. And instead of passively observing them, they were going to build and test MVPs.  All in six weeks.

50 students signed up to work on the eight problems with different degrees of “wickedness”.

Imperial Wicked Problems and Systems Thinking – 2023 Class

The teams were going to get out of the building and talk to 10 stakeholder a week. Then weekly each team will present 1) here’s what we thought, 2) here’s what we did, 3) here’s what we learned, 4) here’s what we’re going to do during this week.

The Wicked Canvas –  Wicked Tools

To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect. We pushed the students way past what they have done in other classes. In spite of what we said in the info session and syllabus, many students were in shock when they realized that they couldn’t take the class by just showing up, and heard in no uncertain terms that no stakeholder/customer interviews in week 1 was unacceptable.

I think we’ll teach it again.

The team’s final lessons learned presentations were pretty extraordinary, only matched by their post-class comments. Take a look below.