Getting a perfect, 100% accurate understanding of your wicked problem would be a difficult, time consuming, and frankly unrealistic goal. Seeking the fullest truth of an issue or situation is the pursuit of a lifetime – you might even think of it as one of the goals of becoming an educated person, one that you will work on your whole life. But on a much smaller time scale, on a day-to-day basis, it is possible to gather the basic facts of a situation, and to make accurate judgements of the information you encounter. Let’s focus then on always improving the quality and accuracy of the set of information in front of us. If we do that, we can get pretty close to the truth. And it doesn’t even have to be painful or extremely time intensive.
After going through these chapters you will be well equipped to do the kind of research that is required to get to know a wicked problem. We’ll go through the process of examining what you already know and believe about your wicked problem and navigating a rich information environment. Knowing how to start research on a topic that is totally new to you will come in handy throughout your college career and, assuming we don’t solve all the world’s wicked problems this semester, your life.
So what level of research do you need to do to participate in the conversation about your wicked problem? How can we find out what the different perspectives are? How will we know we aren’t missing important parts? What kinds of sources are out there and how will we know if the one we found is useful? What will our own participation in the conversation look like? In the next seven chapters we will tackle these questions.