The problems entrepreneurs face can rarely be neatly compartmentalized as this or that, with right or wrong solutions.  The environment in which entrepreneurs operate is too fast changing and the future too uncertain.  These are what Rittel and Webber described wicked problems in their 1973 article in Popular Science with the following characteristics:

  1. Articulating a problem statement with finite boundaries can seem impossible because the situation is highly fluid.
  2. The search for a solution has no discernible finish line. There is always more to be done.
  3. Solutions not binary, right or wrong, answers but instead involve trade-offs with varying degrees of good and bad.
  4. Solutions cannot be tested for efficacy or a definite causal relationship; too many outside factors also influence the outcomes.
  5. The solutions to wicked problems subject to a sort of uncertainty principle that frustrates learning by trial and error.
  6. Wicked problems do not have a mutually exclusive, collectively exhaustive set of potential solutions.
  7. While analogs and antilogs provide valuable references, every wicked problem is essentially unique, with no clear precedent for a solution.
  8. Every wicked problem is entwined with other problems in an interdependent web, all without any one root cause.
  9. Discrepancies in representation and disagreement arise from the differing perspectives and value systems of all the stakeholders with an interest in the problem.
  10. The stakes are high and consequences nontrivial for those trying to solve these problem.