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APM Body of Knowledge 7th edition

3.1.5 Conflict resol u tion

Facilitating win-win solu tions where possible

Conflict arises when there are differ ing opin ions and/or oppos ing interests between stake­ hold ers that matter to the people involved and are not easily recon ciled. Conflict may be asso­ci ated with the task being under taken, the process used to perform the task or rela tion ships between people. Outside of the work place, people have a choice whether to ignore a conflict or address it. Project profes sion als do not have the same choices at work as they have in their personal lives. Usually, ignor ing the conflict and the people involved is not an accept able way of safe guard ing the success of the project, programme or port fo lio. There are choices that can be made whether to ‘manage’ a conflict, i.e. prevent it from being an ongoing issue but typic ally requir ing one or other party to lose some thing of value to them, or to ‘resolve’ a conflict, i.e. enable a win­win solu tion. Taking a conflict resol u tion perspect ive, rather than conflict being perceived as negat ive – an unwanted struggle – conflict is an oppor tun ity to add value, using an ‘everyone­can­win’ approach. A common model to use when consid er ing approaches to the manage ment or resol u tion of conflict is the one depic ted in Figure 3.1.5. This model encour ages people to think about conflict using two dimen sions:

� the desire to achieve own object ives;

� the desire to achieve others’ object ives.

Investing the time neces sary to achieve both one’s own and others’ object ives is not always the right thing to do – it depends on how much resolv ing the conflict matters to achiev ing the object ives and bene fits, and the degree to which it is import ant to build/preserve long­term rela tion ships between the parties involved. Where a win­win is neces sary, the project profes sional needs a high level of skill in facil it a tion to be able to under stand and creat ively align goals. Other skills are import ant, depend ing on the conflict manage ment/resol u tion mode that is desired, e.g.:

� Assertiveness skills: To stand up for the project and what is required for success.

� Listening skills: To under stand the perspect ives of the people involved.

� Personal resi li ence: When the project context is highly charged with many conflicts to manage.

Sometimes, it is neces sary to involve other parties to resolve a conflict, e.g. the project sponsor/other stake hold ers as part of governance, a neutral medi ator (from inside or outside of the organ isa tion) or an arbit ra tion service to prevent the conflict escal at ing into litig a tion or indus­trial action. Projects need clear proto cols for escal at ing conflicts either to project governance, or to the relev ant programme or port fo lio level and for decid ing when the organ isa tion needs to go straight to litig a tion, or to altern at ive dispute resol u tion in order to de­escalate the conflict.

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Chapter 3 People and beha viours

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Recommended reading

� The Thomas Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument™ is a frequently used model to explore the options for manage ment or resol u tion of a conflict. Kilmann’s website provides access to reading mater i als and the self­diagnosis instru ment to help develop skills in dealing with conflict.

� Everyone Can Win: Responding to Conflict Constructively (2007) is a prac tical book that provides the essen tials for hand ling personal and work place diffi culties with emotional intel li gence includ ing hand ling clashes of values and toxic power issues.

� A Practical Approach to Alternative Dispute Resolution (2018) is a compre hens ive and digest ible comment ary on the ways to resolve conflicts out of court. This is very relev ant to some projects where conflicts within the organ isa tion or in the supply chain/between part ners cannot be resolved easily.

Figure 3.1.5 A common model to consider approaches to dealing with conflict

Source: Adapted from the Thomas Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument.

Figure 3.1.5 ‘Conflict Situations’ based on Dr Ralph Kilmann’s version of the TKI Conflict Model, www.kilmanndiagnostics.com/overview­thomas­kilmannconflict­mode­instrument­tki, copyright © 2009–2018 by Kilmann Diagnostics. All rights reserved. (Accessed 8 August 2018.)

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APM Body of Knowledge 7th edition

Full refer ences for section 3.1

3.1.1Bourne, L. (2016) Stakeholder Relationship Management: A Maturity Model for Organisational Implementation, 2nd edition. Abingdon: Routledge.

Bourne, L. (ed.) (2011) Advising Upwards: A Framework for Understanding and Engaging Senior Management Stakeholders. Farnham: Gower Publications.

Holloway, J., Bryde, D. and Joby, R. (2015) A Practical Guide to Dealing with Difficult Stakeholders (2015) Farnham: Gower.

3.1.2Cross, R. L., Parker, A. and Cross, R. (2004) The Hidden Power of Social Networks: Understanding How Work Really Gets Done in Organizations. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business Publishing.

Emes, M. and Griffiths, W. (2018) Systems Thinking: How is it Used in Project Management? Princes Risborough: Association for Project Management.

Scott, J. (2017) Social Network Analysis, 4th edition. London: Sage Publications.

3.1.3Association for Project Management People Specific Interest Group (2010) The Lens Collective. Princes Risborough: Association for Project Management.

Dent, F. and Brent, M. (2006) Influencing: Skills and Techniques for Business Success. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.

Mayfield, P. M. (2013) Practical People Engagement: Leading Change through the Power of Relationships. Abingdon: Elbereth Publishing.

3.1.4Kaner, S. (2014) A Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision-Making, 3rd edition. New York: Jossey­Bass.

Pullan, P. and Murray­Webster, R. (2011) A Short Guide to Facilitating Risk Management: Engaging People to Identify, Own and Manage Risk. Farnham: Gower Publications.

Sibbet, D. (2010) Visual Meetings: How Graphics, Sticky Notes #038; Idea Mapping Can Transform Group Productivity. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

3.1.5Blake, S., Browne, J. and Sime, S. (2018) A Practical Approach to Alternative Dispute Resolution, 4th edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Cornelius, H. and Faire, S. (2007) Everyone Can Win: Responding to Conflict Constructively, 2nd edition. Pymble, NSW: Simon and Schuster.

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