Sustainability is an essential attribute of desirable change in people’s lives. Change and sustainability are intractably intertwined. People do not want to live ‘naturally’. The want to live healthier, safer and more full lives than would be given to them ‘naturally’. Humans inevitably bring change to the world but such change can be either sustainable or unsustainable depending on how it is designed. Stopping humans from being human and desiring a better life is not a sustainable strategy. Thoughtless or self-centered change is equally not sustainable. On the other hand, change brought about by careful and responsible designing is sustainable. Good design depends on the exercise of several necessary competencies—of which one is ‘sustainability’. Sustainability cannot be exercised without being systemically integrated with all of the other design competencies at the same time—which is the only way design can be sustainable and sustainability can be sustained.
Horst Rittel is one of the seminal residents in my 'Berkeley Bubble'. Recently a friend and colleague sent me an article about ‘double-wickedproblems’ . I have become ever more aware of the increasing number of references to ‘wicked problems’ in all forms of media that seem to have missed Rittel’s deeper insights . This brought up the concern I have about the use and miss-use of the term ‘wicked problem’. The term ‘wicked problem’, first introduced by Rittel in West Churchman’s seminars at Berkeley, was in reference to his conceptualization of the impossible challenge of dealing with significant social issues using traditional, rational, ‘problem solving’ methods. In most cases what are miss-diangnosed as ‘wicked problems’ are actually complex or complicated problems that can be simplified or broken into smaller 'tame' problems allowing for a straight forward 'problem solving' approach to be taken. This approach is believed by many to be capable