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The uneasy step from conflict management to collaboration

Conflict Management Tools (photo credit: Danie Becknell / Bruce Burris)

Conflict management tools (photo credit: Danie Becknell / Bruce Burris).

Many development (research) organizations are seeking to understand and harness the potential of collaboration. But collaboration is not easy. Not least because it requires trust. And an alignment of interests. And a good understanding of how power relations work and how they might set people against each other.

Sometimes these elements are just not there despite the initial goodwill. Whether from the start or as a progressive process, conflict shows up.

When it does, most people have difficulty letting go of their desire for harmony and tend to ignore the elephant in the room.

When bravely we face the truth, we realize that conflict is not all easy to understand, to recognize or to apprehend – let alone to prevent when it has degenerative qualities.

In a recent GIZ Ethiopia team building retreat, the Communication and Knowledge Management team of the International Livestock Research Institute was invited to reflect about conflict management as one of the themes of the retreat.

The following presentation is the result of this inquiry. It was put together on the basis of many great presentations and documents that exist on the topic.

The idea is that conflict can be leveraged to generate new solutions to problems and to get to true collaboration.

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