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Innovation Tools for Conflict Resolution?

Innovation Tools for Conflict Resolution?

| On 01, Jan 2010

Message: 1539
Posted by: A Jangbrand
Posted on: Saturday, 17th January 2009

Anyone out there with experience of using “innovation tools”, TRIZ, or similar to resolve human and/or political conflicts?

There are so many unsolved human-related conflicts in the world that have remained unsolved for too long.  People are killed, people suffer, business values are destroyed, environment endangered etc.

We need to find “solutions that stick” for these problems and conflicts.

How could, for examples TRIZ tools, help us resolve these conflicts? How would *you* start? Where can we start?

Any views? Any ideas?

Message: 1552
Posted by: Rob Tillaart
Posted on: Tuesday, 27th January 2009

I have no practical experience in solving large human conflicts but here are some thoughts.

First thing that came in my mind is that in human conflicts you have at least two groups with different sets of requirements for an solution. A contradiction is normally a starting point for methods like TRIZ but these methods have no built in ethics (yet?).

When improving a product one of the TRIZ principles is removing a part that causes a harmful effect. This is easy when talking about some part of a device. There is little ethics involved in removing a nut, bolt or any other part.

But when the cause for the harmfull effect is a group of people it is unethical (understatement) to remove them. Human history has many black pages in which this happened.

Second thought is that we as society might study “human conflict patterns” resulting in a set of solution principles. Similar to the way Altshuller studied patents to derive the 40 principles of TRIZ. As basic resources (water, food, shelter, land) are often seen (but not the only) in conflicts these might help to classify the type of conflict. Classification helps to see patterns.

I think one also needs a quality level of solutions similar to the level of inventiveness. The severity of a conflict could imply the level of solution needed. A cease fire is on another level than a peace treaty.

Another point of interest is the difference of the outside and inside of a conflict. What do we see and observe (visible outside) and what is underneath a conflict (hidden inside). Something looks like a religious conflict but underneath it is about water. If we solve the outside only, the conflict is not solved and will start over and over again.

sofar some thoughts,rob

ÒEarth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greedÓ. Mahatma Gandhi

Message: 1554
Posted by: A Jangbrand
Posted on: Wednesday, 28th January 2009


I will definitively spend some more thinking about this. There are far too many problems out there – unsolved!

Message: 1555
Posted by: Pentti Sšderlin
Posted on: Thursday, 29th January 2009


why don't you try the Physical Contradiction?

The conflict you have describe match to PC and the solutions similarly: separate in time, place and structure.

Other possibility: Phase transition? How can be applied/adapted? Ideate!

Moving to super or sub level. Easy to apply. Ideate!

Message: 1558
Posted by: Lynda Curtin
Posted on: Friday, 30th January 2009

Here is another conflict resolution tool that you can try out. It comes from Edward de Bono's CoRT 1 Thinking Tools for schools.

“ADI” A=AgreeD=DisagreeI=Irrelevant

The objective of this thinking tool is to sort out the thinking about the conflict in order to better focus thinking on ways to resolve it.

First list the A points – What do we agree on?Second list the D points – What do we disagree on?Third list the I points – What is irrelevant?

Once the conflict discussion is sorted out the person or group can focus thinking more clearly on ways to resolve the conflict.

Message: 1559
Posted by: Ron Donaldson
Posted on: Saturday, 31st January 2009

I have experience of using Cognitive Edge methods and have recently completed my TRIZ training in the UK. Combining these two very different approaches I would recommend that whatever technique is used to arrive at a solution, that solution must emerge from the conflicting parties and not from a third source ie the TRIZ facilitator or expert.

Any solution that is a product of self-realisation and self-organisation maximises the buy-in of both parties, helps to align them and, hopefully, inspires them both into action in the same direction.

Hope this helps, Cheers, Ron

Message: 1560
Posted by: Andrew Martin
Posted on: Monday, 2nd February 2009

Of course Ôconflict resolution’ is essentially a paraphrase for Ôsolving contraction’. In principle it should make no difference whether we are dealing with a relatively simple technical system or something far more complex involving real people. But clearly the sorts of problems described in the original post do seem to have proved to be intractable. Of course, looking at things purely from the perspective of a problem solver (especially one who uses TRIZ) the bigger and badder the contradiction the more excited we should be at the prospect of finding a good solution!

As Pentti Sšderlin suggested, teasing out the Physical Contradition(s) that must exist in the situation is a good move. I would also suggest looking at the Ideality of the situation from the perspective of each of the parties in conflict (as well as for any other relevant stakeholders), i.e. for each viewpoint make a list of the Benefits, Costs and Harms of the current situation, and that of Ideal Outcome (Ideal Final result). Contradictions will emerge, both within each party’s lists and (inevitably!) between items on different party’s lists. Preferably this should be conducted as a cooperative effort involving the conflicting parties themselves (a process that, in itself, is likely to have a positive influence on the situation).

It’s important to get back to pure benefits at this stage, and be wary of getting bogged down in specific solutions. For example I might consider that I want the benefit of Ôowning territory’, but this is, perhaps, not a benefit, but merely just one solution for delivering the true benefit of something like Ã’living in peace, contentment and securityÓ.

Looking at things at a more fundamental level, and again with a TRIZ slant, we might want to consider Ôthe lessons of history’. TRIZ shows us that if we have a problem, we should tap into existing knowledge of the ways that problems like ours have been solved in the past. The analogy here is obvious Ð history can show us how conflicts have been successfully resolved in the past, the consequences of failing to do so, what works, what doesn’t and so on.

Which brings me onto my final point. I think that there may be a spot of psychological inertia in the presentation of the original question in the phrase Ã’We need to find “solutions that stick” for these problems and conflictsÓ. This wording could lead us to look for some sort of Ôonce and for all’ solution. I’m not saying this was the intent of the original post, but merely that such an interpretation is possible and that it could constrain our thinking in searching for a solution. History shows that, even when conflicts are successfully resolved, they have a nasty habit of breaking out again later on, or spawning new conflicts. The use of the TRIZ system-operator/time and scale/nine-boxes/nine-windows/nine-screens tool would be very valuable here for assessing both the problem and potential solutions. Incidentally, it would be also useful in drawing up an inventory of the resources that are available to help solve the problem.

At the risk of injecting some psychological inertia of my own, I would anticipate that such an approach will encourage dynamic or adaptive solutions that continue to work to prevent future and different conflicts, even after the current problem has been resolved.


Message: 1561
Posted by: A Jangbrand
Posted on: Monday, 2nd February 2009

Yes indeed. “solutions that stick” can be misleading.  But maybe that is one of the problems when dealing with conflicts. Trying too hard to forever remove the “problem”. And that removal of that problem could lead to new conflicts, or worse….

Instead how about ; We need to find and consider solutions that both (or all) sides accept and adopt.

I also think that one of the previous post was absolutely right; that the parties of the conflict need to be part of – and be active in – the “problem resolution”.  The solution should be a “shared creation” – and not so much of a compromise (with tensions still built in). And I think that the parties need to create their own solution. It can not be provided from an outsider….

I like “the bigger and badder the contradiction the more excited we should be at the prospect of finding a good solution”.  And we do have some big ones out there.

Message: 1562
Posted by: Cal Halliburton
Posted on: Monday, 2nd February 2009

You may wish to do a search of the archives for TRIZ and TOC. I've been using the Theory of Constraints (TOC) graphic thinking tools, with support from TRIZ, for conflict resolution and find that the combination is quite powerful.

Message: 1563
Posted by: M Wood
Posted on: Tuesday, 10th February 2009

The problem with all of these suggestions is that they take a view of conflict resolution as simple product improvement, with one fixed perspective point. In the market place, it is relatively simple to determin good/bad as far as a product is concerned: works/doesn't work, complex/simple, cheap/expensive, safe/dangerous.

The big difference in interpersonal conflicts is that each party/group may be operating on completely different value systems as far as what is good/bad. (The USA has an abyssmal record dealing with cultures that they don't understand.) The talk show circuit routinely displays conflicts between people who believe fundamentally different things about the same situation.

The mistake that many amateurs (people and countries) make is to assume a role where they think they have an objective view of what is good and bad and then try to resolve to their best position. What they do is simply become a third party in the conflict.

If you want to achieve a resolution, you need to fall back to Win-Win thinking and identify the DIFFERENT market requirements of the product. Each side will say “I only want justice”, but “justice” will be a different product to each of them.

If there is a two part conflict, you will need to apply your various tools to both sides, both perspectives and both outcome requirements.