Wicked Problems – A view from Saïd Business School with Sue Dopson
Sue Dopson is the Rhodes Trust Professor of Organisational Behaviour, Fellow of Green Templeton College and Deputy Dean of Saïd Business School at The University of Oxford.
Her research centres on leadership and transformational change in the public and healthcare sectors. Her work has informed and influenced government bodies such as the department of health and the national institute for health and clinical excellence; N.I.C.E, in their thinking on the areas such as the dissemination of clinical evidence into practice, medical leadership, and the role of the support worker in the NHS.
Sue currently represents the University of Oxford as Non-executive director of the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust.
Before pursuing an academic career, Sue was a personnel manager in the NHS. Professor Dopson is involved in a number of innovative executive development programmes, including the Oxford Advanced Management and Leadership Programme, the Oxford Strategic Leadership Programme, the Oxford Transition to Leadership Programme, and Consulting and Coaching for Change, as well as programmes delivered to clients in the Middle East.
Not only has Sue worked closely with the UK department of Health and N.I.C.E, she has also worked with organisations such as Roche pharmaceuticals, and is involved with the development of courses for the NHS and Royal Mail.
The risk of cyber attack is on the increase and becoming ever more complicated. So how do you defend against that risk when in fact it’s so complicated that it’s almost impossible for anybody to understand the threat landscape.
In this episode I’ll be talking to Martin Clements. Martin moved to the private sector in 2016 after a long career focused on digital innovation and cyber in government.
Originally trained in Computer and Natural Sciences, he started his career as a coder; writing and selling games in the early personal computer industry.
In recent years Martin held prominent leadership positions building technical capabilities that combine traditional techniques and skills with emerging innovations, especially in the fields of mobile, cyber and data.
He was also a senior information risk owner, managing threats to official I.T systems at a time when cyber was emerging as a strategic threat.
Martin became an experienced executive and non-executive member of the top governance of his sector in the U.K, retiring as Director General for Technology and Transformation at the U.K’s foreign and commonwealth office.
Martin now works with businesses he believes address key capability gaps bringing in the finest emerging technologies together with skilled humans to defend and transform both business and government.
He is senior advisor to the chairman and CEO of Credit Suisse Group, as well as non-executive chairman, director or advisor at a range of businesses in the technology sector.
Along with a group of contemporaries he has set up Wychwood Partners to advise businesses how to safely lead digital transformation.
In this episode Martin and I discuss the threats to businesses from cyber attack, strategies for defending against increasingly sophisticated attacks; attacks which are often so complex as to be beyond the comprehension of people running businesses. (Who after all are more necessarily focused on the more thorny issues of running a business!).
And whether the public cloud is a help or hindrance to those trying to protect digital assets.
John began his career in creative technology as a developer on pioneering special effects software, including on-site work at Disney Feature Animation at Los Angeles and broadcast automation.
He became Digital Media CTO at a European startup incubator before moving to head up a small media technology consultancy team at Deloitte.
John left to consult independently to broadcasters around the world before finally founding The Ideas Lab and writing his bestselling book, Screw Work Let’s Play.
John has spoken at events around the world from London to Bratislava to LA. He speaks on many topics including the future of work, why your best employee is not a worker but a player, and how to start a business in 30 days.
In this episode I’ll be speaking to John about the seemingly intractable problem of how to get a new business off the ground, and recognised, in a world that is increasingly dominated by international organisations with pockets the size of which mere mortals can hardly contend.
“If men could learn from history, what lessons it might teach us! But passion and party blind our eyes, and the light which experience gives us is a lantern on the stern which shines only on the waves behind us.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772- 1834)
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Hello and welcome to the Wicked Problems podcast.
My name is Toby Corballis and I’m going to be your host on this journey through some fascinating problems being worked on and thought about by some extremely clever people.
But first, why the term wicked? Well, it’s not meant in the Ali-G sense, nor in the Wizard of Oz sense. Here, the term Wicked is referring to the elusiveness of solutions. This doesn’t mean that such problems cannot be solved, just that a solution is not that easy to find or, when solved, it wasn’t done by any immediately obvious rationale at the time, though sometimes the explanation can seem obvious in hindsight.
Throughout the series you’ll hear people like Martin Clements raise the issue of how businesses can stay safe in an ever-hostile on-line world if, indeed, business leaders are unable to identify, let alone understand, the threat landscape.
John Williams will discuss the problem of how, in an ever-crowded on-line world, people can effectively stand out and make their businesses successful.
Noll Fen talks about the problems of bias and how students – and other mortals like you and me – can defend against it, given it lives in all texts (a problem known in epistemological circles as pluralism).
What are Wicked Problems?
Wicked Problems are one of a class of three types of problem: Tame, Critical, and Wicked.
Tame problems are the ones we rub up against every day. They’re easy to spot and easy to solve. For instance, maybe you come out of your home to find that your car windscreen is iced up. It’s a problem, but you know how to solve it.
Critical problems are ones that need solving immediately. They’re critical because if you don’t solve them very soon, it will be too late. For instance, you’re crossing the road and suddenly realise a car is coming towards you that you hadn’t seen so you jump out of the way. If you hadn’t… well, who knows, but it wouldn’t have been a great outcome for you.
Wicked Problems, however, tend to be beyond experience. They may, in fact, be quite simple to define yet often the solution is fiendishly elusive, hence the term ‘wicked’. They may be in the moment, of a time, or perennial in nature, but there they are, as clear as a silted lake that’s host to an algae bloom.
Neither elegant or glib solutions can solve them – sometimes only the alchemy of experience can forge a solution.
I hope you enjoy this podcast and would love to hear any feedback in the comments below or via the contact page.
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.”
Steve Jobs (1955- 2011)
“Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.”
Soren Kierkegaard (1813- 1855)
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