Four individuals seated around a table, woman in middle standing, placing post-it notes onto a worksheet on the table, centered between all the people
German American Conference at Harvard

Leveraging Design to Address Wicked Problems

Other Tomorrows had the pleasure of being invited to facilitate a design workshop at the German-American Conference at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in 2022. We navigated a global audience of students and professionals from a wide range of fields through an approach to tackling wicked problems with design.

The German-American Conference (GAC) at Harvard is the largest transatlantic student-led conference in the United States. It provides a unique platform for leaders from academia, business, society, and politics to engage with passionate young minds.

During this session, we introduced the group to their wicked problems, how to focus on an opportunity area, and ideated around a defined problem. Design is certainly not a one-size-fits-all approach to tackling issues, let alone ones on the scale of wicked problems. However, utilizing core components of the design process can help unpack contexts, reframe problems, and approach solutions in novel ways.

Individual sitting at a table and working on

Our team split participants into small groups organized around a single wicked problem (a complex, interconnected problem with no clear solution), ranging from finding justice in climate colonization to breaking our militarized nuclear world order. Moderators led participants through strategic design activities to get them to think in novel ways and expose them to as many aspects of the design process as possible. For many participants, this was their first exposure to design thinking and this unique approach to a problem. The workshop provided them with a balance between theory and time actively applying concepts.

Six individuals standing and discussing around a table, man in the center placing post-it notes onto a worksheet on the table.

For an audience with such different backgrounds and focuses, it was exciting to foster collaboration, nurture creativity, and provide tangible skills and tools to solve complex problems in the future. While we didn't solve any wicked problems in one day, it is good to know the leaders in the room could become agents of design processes within their organizations.

We're always interested in helping organizations approach problems differently. Drop us a line to hear more about one of our workshops.

What We Offer

Dark blue brochure on light wood table with white text reading "Design As a Tool for Addressing WIcked Problems"Hand writing in a large worksheet with blue an yellow sticky notesResponses to workshop questions in a large worksheet. Text in Image: Stakeholders. Who is involved (players causing and being affected).Workshop teams working on their tables at the conference room at HKS
Project Team

German American Conference at Harvard

Laura Maria Cornelia Schuetz

Felix Hambitzer

Other Tomorrows

Lee Moreau

Kyle Wing

Maria Risueño Domínguez

Jen Ashman

Tim Radville