FIG Peer Review Journal


Making Sense of Wicked Projects (4014)

Andrew Daniel Finegan (Australia)
Dr Andrew Daniel Finegan
PhD Program Director - ECIC
Entrepreneurship, Commercialisation and Innovation
Centre (ECIC)
The University of Adelaide
The University of Adelaide
Corresponding author Dr Andrew Daniel Finegan (email: andrew.finegan[at], tel.: +61 8 8303 7491)

[ abstract ] [ paper ] [ handouts ]

Published on the web 2010-01-14
Received 2009-11-19 / Accepted 2010-01-14
This paper is one of selection of papers published for the FIG Congress 2010 in Sydney, Australia and has undergone the FIG Peer Review Process.

FIG Congress 2010
ISBN 978-87-90907-87-7 ISSN 2308-3441


Standard and accepted approaches to project management are based upon the assumption that a set of defined processes and tools will provide reliable and useful guidelines for most projects, most of the time. However project environments are becoming increasingly complex and chaotic, in which case standard approaches will not be adequate. Projects associated with spatial information, land management and sustainability are no exception. Where there are projects with behavioral complexity there will be wicked problems that cannot be solved – only contained – resulting in wicked projects. This paper examines the challenge of how best to respond to the problem of managing wicked projects. It argues that the use of a systems thinking approach – soft systems methodology – will support collaboration for shared understanding and collective learning. A model has been developed to support this proposition and is applied to systems thinking case study of a sustainable construction project. The approach described in this paper is recommended as a useful way for dealing effectively with wicked problems in complex projects.
Keywords: Project Management; sustainability; wicked problems; soft systems methodology.