How MercuryWorks Views Wicked Problems

Wicked Problems: Problems that are difficult or impossible to solve

…because of incomplete, contradictory and changing requirements. It refers to an idea or problem where there is no single solution to the problem. Because of complex interdependencies, the effort to solve one aspect of a wicked problem may reveal or create other problems.

The MercuryWorks mission statement calls out a very special kind of problem that is near and dear to our hearts: the Wicked Problem

MercuryWorks mission statement

We love wicked problems because they pull the best out of us and let us know that we are solving problems for clients that not many others could have.  In truth, wicked problems aren’t the only kind of problems we work on – and it’s very important to know when we AREN’T working on a wicked problem.  As a MercuryWorks employee, you will hear us talk about these three categories of problems.

Solved Problems

As much as we like to think that every problem we face is unique, the truth is that in software development there are a LOT of solved problems – challenges that are so common that the industry has long ago arrived at standard best practices.

At MercuryWorks we are careful to not treat a Solved Problem like a Wicked Problem – we are well versed in the best practices and tools that enable us to treat solved problems as such.

Domain Problems

“Domain Problems” are bread-and-butter but non-trivial challenges – business problems that are unique to the client and are by no means Solved Problems.

Domain Problems can be tough but are typically highly solvable with collaborative work across Product, design and engineering.  Domain Problems are the most common types of problems at MercuryWorks.

Wicked Problems

“Incomplete, contradictory and changing requirements”.  If you work at MercuryWorks, that just rang a loud bell.  These are the kinds of problems we thrive for!

THIS is where you are going to spend your time at MercuryWorks.  These problems are the minority of the day-to-day problems you will face but when one pops up, it is likely to dominate your team for a bit.