Solving the world's 'wicked' problems

14 November 2013 | Story by Newsroom

cardioCo-innovator: Dr Verena Bitzer believes that the solutions to "wicked" problems require a completely different approach that goes beyond collaboration.

An opportunity to tackle complex societal problems '“ that's what the 3rd conference on the Business of Social and Environmental Innovation (BSEI) hopes to provide when it takes place on 25-26 November at UCT's Graduate School of Business (GSB).

"Wicked" problems like climate change, food insecurity and poverty require "innovations that are complementary, coordinated and collaborative," says the GSB's Dr Verena Bitzer about the conference, aptly titled Co-innovation to address wicked problems.

"The idea of wickedness in terms of problems is not to discourage action, but to say we need a different kind of action. We are not aiming to reduce complexity, but to deal with it and address it," clarifies Bitzer.

She explains that academics and practitioners are invited to attend the seminar to help share insights and success stories. "The conference is not just about sharing theoretical knowledge, but about finding practical solutions as well," she adds.

The keynote speaker is Trevor Manuel, minister in the presidency and chair of the national planning commission. He will be joined by other speakers including Bulelwa Makalim-Ngewana, CEO of Cape Town Partnership, and leading international academics, like Adam Kahane, associate fellow at the Saïd Business School at Oxford University.

The conference will provide a platform to discuss critical questions, such as how managers can take on new leadership roles and make sense of challenges in the changing business landscape. It has become the flagship conference of the GSB, Africa's leading business school and one of the top-rated institutions of its kind in the world.

"One of most interesting aspects of the conference is the mix between practitioners and academics. We want to get people out of their comfort zone, get them to engage with people they wouldn't normally speak to, and see if we can gain new insights into our most wicked problems," comments Bitzer.

Registration for this conference closes on 18 November. Register and view the conference programme.

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