Braniff’s Blog

The Wicked Question of Right and Left

How can the Canadian Parliament provide progressive social policies which safeguard the environment, provide a social safety net for our most vulnerable citizens and keep Canadians healthy and safer while maintaining sound fiscal policies and a resilient economy?

Politics often slips into labels about left and right and this approach can be divisive and polarizing.  It is also not particularly helpful or useful when it comes to governance and leadership. If we think of movement, such as walking (whether by two or four legs or using a cane, crutches or wheelchair), balance and momentum require effort and coordination of both the left and the right.   The Green Party call to action is “Not left. Not right.  Forward Together”.

Canada faces complex, seemingly intractable social problems, that is, wicked problems.   There is a tendency to try and solve wicked problems with simple remedies (like a recipe) or to hire a team of experts (which is more appropriate for complicated problems).   Wicked Problems require collaboration, creativity and social innovation.   (If you want a practical and quick read on changing the world through social innovation, check out Getting to Maybe: How the World Is Changed by Frances R. Westley).    Social Innovation approaches complex social problems with “design thinking”, that is, the kind of creativity and teamwork for art, architecture or high-function, ergonomic tools and furniture. 

The Wicked Question: Courageous and Demanding in its Expectations

It begins with a wicked question.  A wicked question is not a riddle or a trick question.  This is an investigative question full of curiosity. A wicked question is designed to focus on the dilemma of holding opposites in creative tension.  For example, faced with the challenge of heating a room for people with varying comfort-levels, the wicked question would try to figure out how to make the room warm enough for Aunt Carol (who wears long pants all summer) without being too hot for Uncle Ray (who has been known to wear a spring jacket in a snowstorm).   The wicked question is courageous and demanding in its expectations. It is about navigating the course downstream between the rocks and the whirlpool. The wicked question is what you need to find your way when you are “between a rock and a hard place”.  

The question at the start of this blog (in italics) is an example of a wicked question about balancing concerns and values of the left and of the right.   We live together here in Canada; we share the same communities and the same wicked problems. We need to apply some design thinking to use social innovation and work better…. together.   

#wickedquestions #wickedproblems #forwardtogether #socialinnovation #braniffsblog