• Table of Contents
    1. “Rebuilding, Part 1”
    2. “Catch the Sparks Flying Off…”
    3. All interesting systems are messy
    4. Why Innovation Fails
    5. It happens to Everyone
    6. “Fast, Free, and Failing”
    7. Mad Science
    8. Innovating Innovation
    9. Technology Must Challenge Us
    10. “Rebuilding, Part 2”

There are only ever messy human problems, and they only ever have messy human solutions.

In Messy Human Problems, Dr. Vivienne Ming explores the hidden interdependencies that define so many challenging problems in the world. She describes why innovation so often fails and occasionally even makes problems worse, and even offers post mortems on her own failures. She asks why no one seems to be “innovating on innovation” and offers new insights on how to drive innovation and our collective intelligence forward. Here she details her own “mad science” approach to confronting seemingly unsolvable problems in the real world.

These problems confronting humanity, from climate change to culture wars to understanding our own biology, are irreducibly messy, full of complex interdependencies between hidden factors. And yet we too often settle for or even demand simple solutions and absolute answers. Our unwillingness to accept the fundamental tensions at the heart of messy problems slows and even stops our ability to explore the unknown.

From her decades of research and invention, Dr. Ming describes how technology itself can as easily become a part of the problem as it is a solution. Rather than an easy cure-all, she insists that “technology must challenge us. It should not only make us better why we use it, but it must leave us better than where we started when we turn it off again.”