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A helpful resource for creative conflict solutions

Welcome to Our Blog A Helpful Resource For creative conflict solutions

Productive Conflict Publications

Articles Published on Medium and in partnership with Human Systems Dynamics Institute

How to Make Organizational Conflict Work for You

How do you make organizational conflict work for you? In the 1920s, Mary Parker Follett asked herself this very question. It’s a question we often ask ourselves today. Follett, a management theorist and social philosopher, proposed “integrative behavior” as the answer. This is an idea she compared to playing a violin: apply the bow to the strings and create friction. When it’s played properly, you achieve beautiful music. Simply put, “integrative behavior” means that people can connect their ideas to those of others to create new ideas. This is the creative process of human interaction, and...

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What to say “yes” and what to say “no” to?

If you are like many of us working in fast-paced organizations, you most likely have no shortage of projects needing your attention. When the projects start piling up, you are faced with the difficult question of what to take on and what to put off. But the real challenge in making these decisions is that all these projects appear highly important or at least highly risky to avoid. Fast-paced organizations are fast-paced for one key reason: they are made up of many semi-autonomous agents interacting interdependently, that is, these agents are independent and dependent at the same time. This...

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Are you really setting conditions for diversity in the workplace?

Diversity is everywhere. Yet, in our organizations we sometimes say we want diversity, while we fail to set conditions for it. There are many ways to define diversity in the workplace. For the purposes of this article I chose to draw on a simple and practical definition from Joe Gerstandt: “Diversity means difference, and it is a component of all interactions and relationships.” This way of looking at diversity allows us to appreciate that it is not only something that occurs when people of differing cultures, ethnicities, or religions come together, but something that happens every day with...

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So you want to be a cross-functional team?

Cross-functional teams in Government are nothing new. Over my years working within Government, and as a contractor for Government, I’ve heard them called many things such as “Swat Teams,” “Tiger Teams,” and “Special Project Units” just to name a few. Whatever you call your cross-functional team, they can bring both powerful synergy and destructive conflict to an organization. As you set up your cross-functional team, here are three simple things you can do to bolster its success. 1) Get Beyond the “One Goal” Trap What is holding this cross-functional team together? Well of course the project...

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How to Not be a Victim

Establishing justice is important, there is no doubt about that. But in order to change a situation, one has to recognize the dynamics at play. “I feel afraid.” This is what one of my clients, “H” said to me when I was intervening as a conflict management specialist for a work team of 25. H had filed a harassment claim against the team lead, “M”. The Review Board determined the claim was founded and issued a penalty to M, who went out of office for six weeks. M was now returning to the workplace, and the whole team was apprehensive, particularly H. I had been mandated to help restore a...

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