Technical Conflict Management

When Conflict occurs in a technical context, it might not be restricted to technical issues. Whether conflict is technical, interpersonal, intergroup, or interdepartmental, it can sometimes escalate enough to endanger projects, careers, or even people. This program provides people with the tools they need to convert Conflict from a threatening foe to an important ally.

Technical Conflict Management

Technical conflict management requires a focus on guiding people to solutions

Participants learn:

  • To see Conflict as a natural, positive force for creativity in a technical environment.
  • To accept that Conflict is not manageable — only our responses to Conflict are.
  • To understand that much of the discomfort we feel in Conflict arises from experiences in our pasts, rather than from what is happening in the moment.
  • To grasp what is happening here and now can give us some measure of control of our responses to Conflict. This enables us to use Conflict as a force for creativity.

When we believe that we can somehow eliminate Conflict, or that Conflict is an enemy of productivity, we are in conflict with Conflict itself. As long as we persist in fighting Conflict, it can continue to depress productivity and create personal difficulties for the people it involves. When we learn to embrace Conflict, to draw energy from it, we can learn to have conflict within teams and among team members without creating danger to the project or to the people working on it.

The full-day format of this program includes a copy of 101 Tips for Managing Conflict for all participants and their supervisors. Ideal for those who like to supplement their learning by reading, or as a reference for later study. MoreParticipants learn to distinguish between constructive and destructive Conflict. They learn to detect destructive Conflict in its earliest stages, and to gain new insight into those elements that turn constructive Conflict into more destructive forms. They acquire new tools for dealing with destructive Conflict, and for converting it back into constructive forms. They experience an energetic and humorous atmosphere that many readily carry back to work.

Program structure and content

This program is available as a keynote, workshop, seminar, breakout, or clinic. We learn through exercises, simulations, and post-program activities. In one full-day session, we explore where Conflict comes from, and where our responses to Conflict come from. We apply models of Conflict and team behavior to show participants how they might:

  • Distinguish the technical and personal dimensions of conflict.
  • Maintain a feeling of centeredness.
  • See what is happening right now, as opposed to anticipating catastrophes that might happen someday.
  • Contend with their partners in Conflict without threatening their safety.
  • Deal with interpersonal issues effectively before they mushroom to become project issues.
  • Deal with project issues effectively before they mushroom to become organizational issues.

Each simulation is oriented to the project environment, yet is simple enough to provide safe and effective learning opportunities. Our techniques are derived from the techniques of Gerald Weinberg, Jean McLendon, Virginia Satir and Thomas Crum — simplified and made more accessible to the technical community.

Learning model

In the technical project environment, we usually apply new technical knowledge in situations that have little emotional content. But knowledge about how people work together in Conflict is most needed in highly charged situations. That's why we use a learning model that differs from the one often used for technical content.

Our learning model makes the principles of human dynamics accessible even during moments of stress. Using a mix of presentation, simulation, group discussion, and metaphorical team problems, we make available to participants the resources they need to make new, more constructive choices even in tense situations.

Target audience

Technical leaders and managers and technical project team members. Participants should have experienced at least six months as a member of a technical project team.

Program duration

Available formats range from 50 minutes to one full day. The longer formats allow for more coverage or more material, more experiential content and deeper understanding of issues specific to audience experience.

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What People Say About Rick's Programs
  • "Rick is a dynamic presenter who thinks on his feet to keep the material relevant to the group."
    — Tina L. Lawson, Technical Project Manager, BankOne (now J.P. Morgan Chase)
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    — Mark Middleton, Team Lead, SERS
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