Affinity Diagram –a business tool, used to organize ideas and data, which allows large numbers of ideas stemming from brainstorming to be sorted into groups, based on their natural relationships, for review and analysis.

City – (in the U.S.) an incorporated municipality, usually governed by a mayor and a board of aldermen or councilmen.
Small City = < 200,000 population
Medium-sized City = 200,000-500,000 population
Big City = 500,000-1,000,000 population
Major City = >1,000,000 population

Contextual Inquiry – a structured, well-defined user-centered design ethnographic research methods used to collect data about users in the field, interpret and consolidate that data in a structured way, use the data to create and prototype product and service concepts, and iteratively test and refine those concepts with users.

Design Thinking – an approach to design, commonly used in community development, service design, problem formulation and product design, typically in complex and contentious situations or to break out of a period of stagnation.

Diffusion – the process of increasing the adoption of an innovation by a population.

Economy – the wealth and resources of a country or region, esp. in terms of the production and consumption of goods and services.

Infrastructure – the underlying physical and organizational structures and facilities needed for the operation of a service, process or system.

Innovation an idea, practice, or object that is perceived as new by an individual or other unit of adoption (as defined by Everett Rogers.)

Participatory Design
– an approach to design that attempts to actively involve stakeholders in the design process.

– characteristic of, relating to, or denoting work or a society that is no longer based on heavy industry. American sociologist, Daniel Bell, popularized the term in the 1970s.

Rust-belt Community– a once heavily industrialized area containing older factories, particularly those that are marginally profitable or that have been closed. The US rust-belt stretches from Upstate New York, through Western Pennsylvania, Ohio, Southern Michigan, Northern Indiana and parts of Illinois.

Scenario Planning – a strategic planning process of visualizing what future conditions or events are probable, what their consequences or effects would be like, and how to respond to, or benefit from them.

Social Innovation  – new strategies, concepts, ideas and organizations that meet social needs of all kinds and that extend and strengthen civil society improving the viability, sustainability and resilience of the entire system.

STEEP – acronym for Social, Technological, Economic, Environmental and Political. A knowledge management framework and analysis tool used to evaluate various external factors impacting a business or organization.

Super Connector ­– an individual who maintains contact with thousands of people in different social, professional, and/or special interest networks and knows those individuals well enough to initiate personal contact with them.

SWOT Analysis – a strategic planning method used to evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats involved in a project, service, organization, system or business venture.


Wicked Problem – a phrase originally used in social planning to describe a problem that is difficult or impossible to solve because of incomplete, contradictory, and changing requirements that are often difficult to recognize. Moreover, because of complex interdependencies, the effort to solve one aspect of a wicked problem may reveal or create other problems. According to Horst Rittel, who coined the term, there are ten characteristics of a wicked problem in the context of social policy planning:

  1. There is no definitive formulation of a wicked problem (defining wicked problems is itself a wicked problem).
  2. Wicked problems have no stopping rule.
  3. Solutions to wicked problems are not true-or-false, but better or worse.
  4. There is no immediate and no ultimate test of a solution to a wicked problem.
  5. Every solution to a wicked problem is a “one-shot operation”; because there is no opportunity to learn by trial and error, every attempt counts significantly.
  6. Wicked problems do not have an enumerable (or an exhaustively describable) set of potential solutions, nor is there a well-described set of permissible operations that may be incorporated into the plan.
  7. Every wicked problem is essentially unique.
  8. Every wicked problem can be considered to be a symptom of another problem.
  9. The existence of a discrepancy representing a wicked problem can be explained in numerous ways. The choice of explanation determines the nature of the problem’s resolution.
  10. The planner has no right to be wrong (planners are liable for the consequences of the actions they generate).

Rittel, Horst, and Melvin Webber. “Dilemmas in a general theory of planning.” Policy Sciences 4, no. 2 (1973): 155-169.

Buchanan, Richard. “Wicked Problems in Design Thinking.” Design Issues 8, no. 2 (Spring 1992): 5-21.


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