Transition Engineering is emerging as a way to effectively work on intractable or “wicked” problems. A wicked problem is a system that works well, and yet is also causing unsustainable harm and externalities. Wicked problems are not a result of bad behaviour, but are created by good engineering and profitable investment. Freeways built to relieve congestion and move more traffic volume are wicked problems because they actually generate more traffic and more congestion, and the automobile use they support is a leading source of air pollution and green house gas emissions, not to mention the costs and suffering from accidents.
Transition Engineering is the work of achieving strategic changes in complex systems characterized as wicked problems. This emerging field provides the innovation, research, analysis, design and implementation of projects to radically change the business as usual, while managing the risks of un-sustainable resource use, environmental impacts, economic balance, and social and economic consistency. The TE Method is a innovation approach to discover projects carried out “from the ground up” utilizing local knowledge, providing local jobs, increasing local resilience and building adaptive potential.
Wicked problems are complex, contradictory, and uncomfortable to work on. The 7-step methodology has been successful at addressing wicked problems.