Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Workable Design Criteria for Use when Competing Ideologies Collaborate

(Suggested for use, either where strongly competing ideologies or turfs exist, or where chronic problems involving communication and decision-making lead to suspicion and low trust.)

  1. Agreement regarding the nature of outcome
    Although they disagree on many of the factors that will shape the outcome (such as the underlying values, the types of data that are seen as most relevant or the relative weight given to conflicting evidence), it is important that participants agree on what their collective efforts will lead to – e.g., a report, a management policy, etc. This can include things as "simple" as deciding how to manage issues such as the question "who decides who decides" in any given situation.
  2. Personal commitment to successful outcome
    Each participant needs to have a personal stake in the successful reaching of the outcome noted above. Otherwise, it becomes easy to subvert or sabotage the efforts of the group, even if done surreptitiously.
  3. Limited time
    If interminable debates regarding ideologically based differences are to be avoided, it is important that the agreed upon outcome be required within a reasonable short time frame.
  4. Agreed upon method(s) of conflict management
    Note that the phrase conflict "management" rather than resolution. It is useful to have various methods, each of which work well in differing situations, and a facilitator who can focus on both:
    - Covert conflicts that are as yet unrecognized, but whose management is critical to a successful outcome; and
    - Overt conflicts that are using up time, but are relatively trivial and should be ignored.

By Oliver Markley, Inward Bound


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