Dealing with Wicked Problems: Government Priority System as a Tool for Engaging Leadership and Focusing on Changes


  • Jurgita Siugzdiniene Kaunas University of Technology
  • Inga Kirstukaite Office of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania



Due to the complex environment and a growing number of wicked policy problems, governments around the globe are poorly equipped to handle the demands of ambiguity, complexity and uncertainty to solve these non-routine tasks and issues. Therefore the challenging task the Governments are currently facing is the need to develop specific capacities and find tools to transform systems of governance in such a way that they would be able to effectively react and adequately respond to the demands of a complex and quickly changing environment. This article aims at discussing important preconditions which are necessary to solve wicked problems, as well as defining specific instruments to deal with those challenges. The study presents the experience of the Lithuanian Government in implementing government-wide performance management reforms, emphasizing strategic leadership and collaboration while dealing with complex or wicked problems. It focuses on a specific instrument – the annual Government Priority System. The article is based on the results of two consecutive surveys conducted by the Office of the Government of Lithuania in 2012 and 2014 to assess the quality and relevance of the Government Priority System. The research findings have revealed that the Government Priority System can be considered as an important and relevant instrument for the Lithuanian Government to deal with wicked problems by establishing a platform to enable collaboration and strategic leadership. At the same time, several important shortcomings of the system have been identified, such us the lack of understanding of the importance of cross-governmental collaboration and joint priorities, lack of trust as well as insufficient political leadership. It is suggested that the next important step to be made by the Lithuanian Government is to develop relevant management and leadership competencies that will foster cultural change within the Government and will lead towards the New Public Governance.