Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning is a paper that introduces the concept of wicked problems. The paper begins by identifying problems that are a part of all levels of professions, and discusses what needs to be done to address the bigger problems that lies ahead. Economic, environmental, and political issues which are the substance of this paper, represent ‘wicked’ problems---problems that is difficult or impossible to solve because of incomplete, contradictory, and changing requirements that are often difficult to recognize.1
The paper goes on to explain the characteristics of wicked problems. Establishing that there is a problem, and defining the problem is the toughest problem. Rittel and Webber’s formulation of wicked problems in social policy planning specified ten characteristics. With my understanding of what a “wicked problem” is, I agree that some problems will never be solved. At bet they are only re-solved over and over again.
The first chapter of Hoch’s: “What planners do: Power, Politics, and Persuasion” gives a broad overview of what is that Planners actually “do”. Also, the different types of planners such as the planners who emphasizes the primacy of professional expertise and judgment in making good plans vs. the planners who listens to the desires and interest of the city’s many different citizens. Furthermore, the chapter discussed the evolution of professional planning. Today, planning has a lack of status, however, this chapter identifies serious problems that planners are charged with identifying and solving. Planning professionals take on problems that private organizations try to avoid and that markets create but cannot solve.
Due to the complexity of the problems Planners have to navigate and from the characteristics listed in Rittell and Webber’s paper, I would assume these open-ended problems could be identified as wicked problems. Professional planners try to classify and analyze these chaotic problems and deliver solutions that will benefit the public good.
The chapter concludes with Hoch explaining the methodology of how the book was written. He took planners from different sectors and analyzed them by observing them interact with members of the community, conducting one on one interviews, and by personal story telling. One thing that was clear throughout the chapter was that planning rarely faces supportive audiences. They have multiple community actors that they have to engage and advise on what they believe is best for the public good. This chapter sets the tone on what is to come for the rest of book.
The final reading this week is titled