The following text was submitted to NCDD by , author of The Book of Agreement and Getting to Resolution and founder of ResolutionWorks, a consulting and training organization dedicated to providing skills and ways of thinking people will need to thrive in the future.
What is the Resolutionary model?
Resolution creates covenantal relationships that are based on shared commitment to ideas, issues, values and goals. Covenant is the true source of connection ? meeting of both mind and heart that provides a source of the richness and fulfillment we seek. With covenants in place, results beyond expectation follow. When you start a new relationship or project, the ?Resolutionary? model provides the tools to put in place a road map that reminds you of your objectives, and the route to get you there. If you?re deep in conflict, it provides a Process to Resolution.
Since technology enables capacity far beyond human capability, and regulation lags far behind what people are doing, we need processes that allow us to define how we will engage with each other both professionally and personally. The Cycle of Resolution provides a dynamic context that advances change in relationships. Agreements provide the context that promotes personal satisfaction and collaboration, teaming, learning, change, and continuous improvement in organizational relationships. ?Resolution? provides standard practices through which desired changes can be identified, clarified and implemented. Individuals and groups are legitimized as they learn how to address their unique needs and concerns. The result is empowerment, collaborations, teamwork, increased productivity and self-management.
The Art of Agreement
Productivity and collaboration are a function of effective explicit agreements. All productivity, and all satisfying professional and personal relationships, result from collaborative action. We collaborate with others in language by forming agreements. These agreements are express (spoken or written) or implied (assumed). We often have conflict because we did not take the time, and we never learned how, to craft effective, explicit agreements. This is a skill we were never taught, even though it is fundamental and a foundational life skill.
The cause of wasteful, expensive conflicts are implicit, inartful, incomplete agreements that do not express a joint vision, and do not solidify relationship in the process of crafting the agreement. This often happens because the process of negotiating an agreement is seen as an adversarial process you try to win, as compared to a joint visioning process that expresses an inclusive vision of desired outcomes, and the road map to those desired results.
You can craft elegant agreements using a 10 element Agreement Template. These ten elements can be used as personal goal setting tools. They can be used to foster covenental partnerships in personal relationships, and with colleagues, bosses, support staff, suppliers, joint venture partners, clients and any collaborators.
The key is articulating joint vision, how you will produce desired outcomes, standards to evaluate your results, and who you need to reach your objectives. Agreements are a way of planning and implementation that generates a high level of buy-in because it is empowering, inclusive and highly participatory.
The Ten Elements are:
1. INTENT AND SPECIFIC VISION. The big picture of what you intend to accomplish together must be specified. The first step of any effective collaboration is sharing a big picture of what you are doing together. This provides a framework to hang the details on. A joint enterprise works best when everyone is working toward the same specific goals. The clearer the detail of desired outcomes, the more likely you will attain them as visualized.
2. ROLES & NECESSARY PARTIES. The duties, responsibilities, and commitment of everyone must be clearly defined. Everyone necessary to achieve the desired results must be part of the agreement.
3. PROMISES / COMMITMENTS TO ACTION. The agreement contains clear promises so everyone knows who will do what. When commitments to take action are specific, you can determine if the actions are sufficient to obtain the desired results and what actions are missing.
4. TIME / VALUE. All promises must have specific time deadlines for task completion. These are ?by whens??by when will you do this, and by when will you do that. In addition, the time period the agreement will be in force must be specified.
Value specifies who gets what for what. Is the exchange satisfactory? Is it fair? Does it provide adequate incentive? This must be clearly understood, and everyone must be satisfied or someone will sabotage the engagement.
5. MEASUREMENTS OF SATISFACTION. The evidence that everyone has achieved his or her objectives must be clear, direct, and measurable so there can be no disagreement. This element is critical because it eliminates conflict about the ultimate question?Did you accomplish what you set out to do?
6. CONCERNS AND FEARS. Bringing unspoken difficulties to the surface provides the opportunity to anticipate and minimize the disagreements you know will happen during the collaboration. The discussion will deepen the partnership being created or let you know this is not a partnership you want to be part of.
7. RENEGOTIATION & DISSOLUTION. No matter how optimistic and clear you are, it will become necessary to renegotiate promises and conditions of satisfaction. Circumstances change, and you must put in place a mechanism to address the new conditions. Being realistic about this at the beginning enables the relationship to evolve and prosper. It is imperative to provide everyone with a way out?an exit strategy everyone can follow with dignity. Anyone who feels imprisoned in a transaction, partnership, or relationship will not make his or her maximum contribution to the enterprise.
8. CONSEQUENCES. Although you may not want to police the agreement, it is important to agree on consequences for anyone who breaks a promise. It is more important to understand what will be lost if you do not bring the vision to reality.
9. DISPUTE RESOLUTION. Acknowledge that conflicts and disagreements arise as a matter of course as people work together. If you know that and establish the attitude of resolution and a process that leads to a new agreement, resolving conflicts will be easier.
10. AGREEMENT. Everyone is satisfied and ready to take action. Work on the agreement until you are satisfied that you have an agreement or do not have one. Unless and until you are satisfied, do not move into action. You will not have a shared vision to work toward. Also ask yourself whether the outcome will be worth it.
Getting to Resolution (GTR)
Conflicts, differences and internal ?chatter? pervade relationships. No matter how good the agreement, conflict and differences will surface. The ability to prevent destructive conflict (dissonance that gets in the way of productivity) and always move toward resolution and agreement is a critical core competence. Resolution and a new agreement that articulates the resolution increases productivity and returns everyone to optimal levels of output and satisfaction.
Resolution restores the ability and desire to take action, coordinate action and see the productive benefits of our collaboration. GTR enables effective collaboration by allowing everyone to focus on productive activity, not the conflict.
The 7 Steps of the Resolution Process include:
- One: ATTITUDE OF RESOLUTION ? new thinking about conflict / agreement
- Two: TELLING THE STORY ? everyone's uninterrupted turn to speak
- Three: PRELIMINARY VISION ? the focus on what would be fair to everyone
- Four: CURRENT and COMPLETE ? letting go and leaving the past behind
- Five: AGREEMENT IN PRINCIPLE ? what is the new relationship?
- Six: NEW AGREEMENT ? details and plan for the new relationship
- Seven: RESOLUTION ? in action and productivity without ?chatter?
Step 1. Developing the Attitude of Resolution
The ten principles of the new paradigm hold the values that make up the attitude of resolution. This attitude is the place of beginning, a critical first step. This will not happen at once. It will take time to change the way you think. This is the foundational step. The goal is internalizing the principles.
Step 2. Telling Your Story
The second step is telling your story and listening to all stories, including yours. It is about understanding and being understood, one of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People that Dr. Steven Covey inspires us to cultivate. If you learn to listen with a careful ear and honor everyone?s story about a situation, you take a big step toward getting to resolution.
Step 3. Listening for a Preliminary Vision of Resolution
The third step is to start thinking about a resolution that honors all concerns in the situation. It is about shifting from the desire to win and get your way to a vision that everyone can buy into. It comes from a sense of fairness. This initial vision may change as you gather more information and learn more.
Step 4. Getting Current and Complete
The fourth step demands saying difficult, sometimes gut-wrenching things. It is about articulating what usually goes unexpressed and escaping from the emotional and intellectual prisons that keep us locked in the past. It is a way to face the good and bad in any situation and to experience and grieve for the disappointment of unrealized expectations. It is a way to put all of the detail out on the table?and choose those remnants that can be used to weave a new tapestry of resolution.
Step 5. Seeing a Vision for the Future: Agreement in Principle
Now that you have a preliminary vision, along with the information and emotional freedom provided by the completion process, you are ready for the fifth step?reaching an agreement in principle. Having looked at what other people need and noticing the cracks in your righteous position, you are ready to reach a general understanding of the resolution. This is the foundation of a new agreement. You let go of the desire for what you know will not work, and you focus on what will.
Step 6. Crafting the New Agreement: Making the Vision into Reality
In the sixth step, you put specifics onto the agreement in principle. You design and construct a detailed vision of the future. You have a map, a formula for the dialogue that will maximize the potential for everyone to obtain their desired results. The more time you spend in detailing the desired results, the greater the chance to realize them.
Step 7. Resolution: When Your Agreement Becomes Reality
The seventh and final step is moving back into action. With a new agreement and a quiet, clear mind about the past, you can freely move forward, devoting your energy and intention to currently desired outcomes. You will have a new and profound sense of freedom because you have spoken all the unspeakables. You have completed the past and constructed a clear picture of the future and of the highway that will get you there. You will be empowered by the process. You are resolved. As you work with Resolution, you learn how to recognize conflict patterns, discover and address everyone?s real concerns, honor differences, and legitimize all perspectives.
Under what circumstances should one use the Resolutionary model?
Practitioners should consider using the Resolutionary model with...
- Intact groups desiring to build a culture of agreement and resolution.
- Existing intimate relationships with entrenched conflicts.
- People who want to begin new collaborative relationship with a shared vision.
- Instances where the stakes are high and the cost of conflict is great.
The nature of organizational life will not revert back to a state of hierarchy and order. Managing by Agreement is an effective alternative to chaos. It provides tools that serve, enhance, clarify and provide a structure within which you can ?make it up as you go along? while fully allowing principles of self-organization to operate. I believe that the balance of ?self-made? structure and self-organization can provide the context in which individuals and organizations will flourish. Managing by Agreement produces clarity about where you are going, and the route you will take, before you move into action.
- ?Getting to Resolution: Turning Conflict Into Collaboration? (Berrett-Koehler 1998)
- ?The Book of Agreement: 10 Essential Elements for Getting the Results You Want? (Berrett-Koehler 2003)
- ResolutionWorks website: www.ResolutionWorks.org