--Originally published at TI2011 – Miguel’s Blog
Chapter 17 begins with Topmkins realizing that they need a way to solve conflict. I think this is obvious considering all the conflict that we have had in previous chapters, especially the Belok conflict. Conflict is everywhere at this point of the story. System development organizations in particular tend to have poor conflict resolution skills. They desperately need someone to help them with conflict resolution and Gabriel comes up with someone, he is a kindergarten teacher. The teacher is good at solving conflict since he has to deal with kids constantly, but it comes natural to him, he can’t really teach it. Because of this, he is going to help with the PMill-A project. Finally, Aristotle speaks up about Dr. Larry Boheme, this man can teach them about conflict solving so Tompkins goes to meet him.
Larry teaches Tompkins a lot about conflict resolution. He mentions how conflict will arise as long as there are 2 different parties involved in a project. These conflicts arise because of different interests, but just because they are different doesn’t mean that one of them is wrong. Both parties have their reasons so this is why you should approach conflict with respect instead of trying to suppress it. Conflict isn’t unprofessional and everyone’s conditions must be respected.
“Negotiation is hard; mediation is easy.”
That phrase means that when negotiating, if you want to win the other needs to lose in return. This is not the correct way to solve it. Instead, a mediator that is a neutral party can help by showing them that their interests may align more than they think. They may not align 100%, but maybe 80% or 90% of the interests line up and a better solution can be reached.
The next chapter focuses more on the kindergarten teacher