Ok, I got a very good comment from Phoebe Sengers on my post about the seven grand challenges for IT research and development. I claimed that the Gartner report was based on some obvious assumptions that was not spelled out. She wrote and asked if I could say what these assumptions are. Good question, but difficult :-) I gave a bad answer, so it has since then been on my mind. So, here are some new ideas.
In the Gartner report I believe there is an underlying assumption about "direction". It seems as it is obvious where we are going, and the challenges are only about how to get there. This means that some other implicit assumptions (that I saw), such as "ease of use" and "development process performance", can be seen as "measure of success" for the whole enterprise. When challenges are stated in this way, they become well defined problems that has to be solved, all within the overall assumption of the given but not discussed "direction".
I would like "grand challenges" not to be about problem solving. I think the IT field is still in a position where other forms of Challenges would be more interesting. I would like to see Grand Challenges that are more explorative, focused on new innovative use, with an ambition of finding new directions. To me this also means that developing Grand Challenges is all about critical thinking, which has to do with breaking the onedimensional thinking as described by Marcuse in his wonderful book "The One-dimensional Man".
I am not sure I am making any progress here :-) If anyone else want to join this discussion, please do so.