Wicked Problems: “People-ism” – It’s Really All About People with Tony Pratte


The term wicked problems describes some of today’s most challenging social issues. Wicked problems require a reframing of success because they might never be fully solved. Success with wicked problems means having an impact on or making a difference toward improved outcomes and reduced risk.

Today, we dive into the wicked problem of people-ism.

I’m Marla, the Green Home Coach! I am recording live at Shock City Studios with my co-host, Tony Pratte, today!


I recently found a book on Amazon called PEOPLEism: A Re-emergence in the Belief in People, A Chance to Humanize Ourselves Again. The notion of people-ism is central to many of the wicked problems we have been discussing on the show.

Everything in nature is interconnected 

As I learned more about nature, I discovered that all natural systems are interconnected. If, for example, I help save polar bears, it will also help save me and others. 

Human welfare

We all tend to be concerned about our welfare, how we will continue to thrive, and how we will survive any particular occurrence. Unfortunately, something that tends to get lost in that conversation is me caring about what is in it for you as well as for me. 

Surviving and thriving as a collective

It can be challenging for individuals or small groups of people to survive in our modern-day world. To thrive and survive as individuals, we need everyone to survive and thrive. 

Our natural world affects us

Our natural world affects us. Everything in nature is tied together, yet we tend not to talk much about the people aspect. 

It’s all about the people

I realized that having a green or sustainable home that promotes better health and a better life is all about people. A home is really just a place to enhance people’s living experience.

Building a house

When a house gets built, it is not just about the builder and the homeowner. There are also suppliers, neighbors, people in the subdivision, and others you may not even realize are stakeholders who have to consent to the project.


There are studies on how people assess the companies with which they do business. A key indicator is how well the people within a company get treated. Fair wages and social justice get considered nowadays before people engage with a company.

A shift

The shift started with groups of people looking to companies to represent their values. As we began to experience the great resignation, companies’ values became an even sharper area of focus.

Why are people leaving companies?

  • People feel comfortable now because money got pumped into the economy.
  • People want flexibility.
  • People prefer working from home.
  • People who kept working during the pandemic saved money because there was nothing to spend it on. They can now afford to leave their positions.
  • Some people feel it is just not worth working anymore.
  • The younger generation is getting into a freelance mindset. So if something does not work out, they leave and go elsewhere.
  • Fewer companies are offering benefits like pension schemes to anchor their people.


Lately, attracting employees has become more about the experience and less about money.

Mental health

Mental health has become part of the public conversation. People are paying more attention to their work-life balance and happiness quotient lately.


The way people view their homes and what they require for their homes has shifted during the pandemic.

Struggling to find workers

Some of the places struggling to find workers include restaurants, retail, and essential services where people do not have the option to work from home. Many people in those industries jeopardize their health and safety to provide their services, so they feel it is not worth working there anymore.

A new normal

People must understand that the old normal does not align with the new normal.

Grace and patience

We need to practice patience and grace when dealing with people. 

Thinking about others

We need to think about others. Things that we think will affect just us do not. If, for example, we buy something unhealthy for us, the chances are that it was also unhealthy for those involved in producing it.

Putting people first

The notion of putting people first is hard. Putting people first has become even more challenging as our society has become more divisive, but we all need to do it anyway.

A bigger conversation

It can be harder to listen and be part of a larger conversation than to be right or have your way. 

Acts of people-ism

Putting your problems in front of you rather than between you and others is an act of people-ism. Another one would be to understand that there are many different points of view, and there are no absolutes.  

Temper tantrums

Lately, having public displays of temper tantrums has become normalized in places like restaurants. That is because people are focused on themselves and do not take the time to seek to understand the bigger picture related to the situation. Those tantrums also affect those to who they are directed and those who witness them. That is how the notion of people-ism came about for me.


I am grateful for the empathy I developed during the pandemic because it enabled me to come from a gentler place when dealing with others. As a result, I have become a better mentor and coach. I sincerely hope that more of us will experience that too!


Change is afoot! Change in the workplace usually starts with the new generation entering the workforce and then filters its way into the older generations. That is a good thing because everyone needs to learn to talk about things that make them feel uncomfortable.   

How common purpose relates to people-ism

We all have a purpose. When people who work together understand their purpose and understand how they can contribute to the overall purpose, that’s people-ism!

Have a great green day!

Links and resources:

What Makes a Green Home Green Audio Program

Wicked Problem Definition 

Helping People: The Living Well Toolkit with Tony Pratte 

What Are We Afraid Of and What that Means for Corporate America, Blog from Shelton Group 

A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World

Science Moms On Climate Change — Now It’s Personal!

by Katharine Hayhoe