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    Tame, messy and wicked problems in risk management

    Hancock, David and Holt, Robin (2003) Tame, messy and wicked problems in risk management. UNSPECIFIED. Manchester Metropolitan University. ISSN 1478-8209


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    Heathrow's Terminal Five presents a case study in risk management that shows the importance of understanding and incorporating the behavioural and perception aspects of risk. At the outset of the project, risk was conceived technically, its management was sequentially driven and problems met with linear solutions. The case study follows a change in perspective experienced by the Terminal Five project teams alerting the project to important, but previously ignored, aspects of risk. This change required different ways of conceiving problem, and the paper describes how this can be done using a typology of: 'tame', 'wicked' and 'messy' problems. This requires risk managers to identify project stakeholders and seek resolutions between their varying perspectives, as much as deliver singular, optimal solutions. Typically, because wicked and messy problems cannot be modelled, they have been ignored, so undermining the ability of the project team to control the project effectively. This case study shows how risk management can embrace behavioural and systems complexity without undermining either clarity of information or control of project processes.

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