Conflict in Complex Systems

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A version of the Conflict Resolution Diagram / Evaporating Cloud talk/workshop I prepared for a SCiO Open Day in Manchester: http://www.scio.org.uk/node/760

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Conflict in Complex Systems

  1. 1. CONFLICT IN COMPLEX SYSTEMS Resolving conflict methodically with the Conflict Resolution Diagram from Theory of Constraints Ash Moran ash.moran@patchspace.co.uk PatchSpace Ltd @patchspace
  2. 2. COMPLEX SYSTEMS Purchasing Sales Software Investors Finance IT HR Legal Marketing Spend less! Spend more! Be cautious! Be bold! Buy Macs! Buy PCs! Stop arguing and make some f*in money!
  3. 3. CONFLICT Resolve conflict Identify conflict Surface assumptions Express the situation clearly Find creative solutions
  4. 4. IDENTIFYING A CONFLICT
  5. 5. CONFLICT SCENARIO: LIMITED RESOURCES HoldYourHand Hosting provides managed server hosting to large and small clients. Recently they’ve been suffering an unusually large number of outages. In a number of cases, support staff have handled follow-up calls badly and upset clients. As a reaction, many managers have taken to jumping on issues themselves. “Managers think they know our job best!” and “Support staff are complete idiots!” and are often heard shouted around. Support staff are scared to speak to clients,
 and managers are overwhelmed with firefighting. Who should handle the clients, support staff or managers?
  6. 6. EXPRESSING THE SITUATION CLEARLY
  7. 7. NECESSITY LOGIC 101
  8. 8. NECESSITY LOGIC 101 YX “In order to do/have X, I must do/have Y”
  9. 9. NECESSITY LOGIC 101 Attend every SCiO meeting Be an expert in the Viable System Model “In order to be an expert in the Viable System Model, I must attend every SCiO meeting”
  10. 10. NECESSITY LOGIC 101 Pay all the entry fees Attend every SCiO meeting “In order to attend every SCiO meeting, I must pay all the entry fees”
  11. 11. PRE-REQUISITES Managers
 call clients Support staff call clients
  12. 12. REQUIREMENTS Managers
 call clients Support staff call clients Preserve client relationships Don’t waste management time
  13. 13. COMMON GOAL Run a successful business Managers
 call clients Support staff call clients Preserve client relationships Don’t waste management time
  14. 14. THE CONFLICT Run a successful business Managers
 call clients Support staff call clients Preserve client relationships Don’t waste management time
  15. 15. SURFACING ASSUMPTIONS
  16. 16. ADVANCED NECESSITY LOGIC
  17. 17. ADVANCED NECESSITY LOGIC YX “In order to do/have X, I must do/have Y, because …” Assumptions!!!
  18. 18. NECESSITY LOGIC 101 Pay all the entry fees Attend every SCiO meeting “In order to attend every SCiO meeting, I must pay all the entry fees, because all SCiO meetings have a fee, and Ben throws fee-dodgers out the window” All SCiO meetings have a fee Ben throws fee-dodgers out the window
  19. 19. REQUIREMENT 1 Run a successful business Preserve client relationships We need clients to be successful We can’t afford to lose clients We can’t find new clients
  20. 20. REQUIREMENT 2 Run a successful business Don’t waste management time Management time is scarce Managers have a specific role to play
 in improving the business If managers are distracted, the 
 long-term health of the business is
 compromised
  21. 21. PRE-REQUISITE 1 Managers
 call clients Preserve client relationships Managers are better at dealing with clients 
 than support staff Clients are going to leave if they get bad service
 from support staff Support staff can’t learn to make good calls
  22. 22. PRE-REQUISITE 2 Support staff call clients Don’t waste management time Managers don’t have time to make calls Support calls are operational work, not
 management work Support staff have useful knowledge
 about outages when making calls
  23. 23. THE CONFLICT Managers
 call clients Support staff call clients Managers and support staff
 can’t both make support calls
  24. 24. WORD IT TO BREAK IT
  25. 25. REQUIREMENT 1 Run a successful business Preserve client relationships We need clients to be successful We can’t afford to lose ONE SINGLE client We can’t find ANY new clients
  26. 26. REQUIREMENT 2 Run a successful business Don’t waste management time Management time is scarce Managers have a specific role to play
 in improving the business If managers are distracted AT ALL, 
 the long-term health of the business is
 compromised
  27. 27. PRE-REQUISITE 1 Managers
 call clients Preserve client relationships ALL managers are MUCH better at dealing with 
 clients than support staff ANY clients will leave if they get JUST ONE 
 bad call from support staff Support staff CAN’T POSSIBLY learn to make good calls
  28. 28. PRE-REQUISITE 2 Support staff call clients Don’t waste management time Managers don’t have ANY time to make calls Support calls are operational work, not
 management work ONLY support staff have useful knowledge
 about outages when making calls
  29. 29. THE CONFLICT Managers
 call clients Support staff call clients EITHER managers OR support staff
 must make ALL support calls
  30. 30. CHALLENGE ASSUMPTIONS
  31. 31. REQUIREMENT 1 Run a successful business Preserve client relationships We need clients to be successful We can’t afford to lose ONE SINGLE client We can’t find ANY new clients ❌ ❌
  32. 32. REQUIREMENT 2 Run a successful business Don’t waste management time Management time is scarce Managers have a specific role to play
 in improving the business If managers are distracted AT ALL, 
 the long-term health of the business is
 compromised ❌
  33. 33. PRE-REQUISITE 1 Managers
 call clients Preserve client relationships ALL managers are MUCH better at dealing with 
 clients than support staff ANY clients will leave if they get JUST ONE 
 bad call from support staff Support staff CAN’T POSSIBLY learn to make good calls ❌ ❌ ❌
  34. 34. PRE-REQUISITE 2 Support staff call clients Don’t waste management time Managers don’t have ANY time to make calls Support calls are operational work, not
 management work ONLY support staff have useful knowledge
 about outages when making calls ❌ ❌
  35. 35. THE CONFLICT Managers
 call clients Support staff call clients EITHER managers OR support staff
 must make ALL support calls ❌
  36. 36. FIND CREATIVE SOLUTIONS
  37. 37. PRE-REQUISITE 1 Managers
 call clients Preserve client relationships Target management calls on the most important situations (Do we know which these are???) Train support staff (Who? How? When?)
  38. 38. PRE-REQUISITE 2 Support staff call clients Don’t waste management time Give more information to managers before calls (Do we have this???)
  39. 39. THE CONFLICT Run a successful business Managers
 call clients Support staff call clients Preserve client relationships Don’t waste management time Target management calls Call training for staff Highlight information
  40. 40. DEVELOP WIN-WIN SOLUTIONS
  41. 41. PRE-REQUISITE 1 Managers
 call clients Preserve client relationships Restrict management calls to clients worth over 5% of business or with complaints in the last 8 weeks Allocate 2 hours per week to be spent
 on training calls for support staff
  42. 42. PRE-REQUISITE 2 Support staff call clients Don’t waste management time Create a system for support staff to flag significant information to managers before making calls
  43. 43. THE CONFLICT Run a successful business Managers
 call clients Support staff call clients Preserve client relationships Use mgmt time appropriately Target management calls Call training for staff Highlight information
  44. 44. THE CONFLICT Run a successful business Preserve client relationships Don’t waste management time Target management calls Call training for staff Highlight information
  45. 45. FINAL STEP OF THE CYCLE Have courage to commit to the solution: a solution never implemented is worse than
 a solution never promised.
  46. 46. DISCUSSION POINT The company experienced a period of long outages to high-profile clients. Many of the support staff were junior members with little experience. Was it reasonable to expect support staff to handle these calls well? What plausible scenarios might have caused this situation and in which of them is blaming the support staff fair?
  47. 47. OBSTACLES TO CONFLICT RESOLUTION
  48. 48. SELF-INTEREST If we resolve this fairly, I might not get what I want, so I’ll fight for my side.
  49. 49. SELF-DISINTEREST I’m not that important, and my opinion isn’t worth much, so I’ll let the other side win.
  50. 50. COMPROMISE The most important thing is to keep everyone happy, so we’ll let everyone have an equal share of what they want.
  51. 51. CONFUSION & TERROR I don’t have a clue what’s going on around me any more, I don’t even want to say a word.
  52. 52. COGNITIVE DISSONANCE Logic says X; but I believe Y. So logically: X must be wrong, KILL IT WITH FIRE.
  53. 53. WORKSHOP
  54. 54. REFERENCES
  55. 55. IT’S NOT LUCK Eli Goldratt
  56. 56. THE LOGICAL THINKING PROCESS William Dettmer
  57. 57. THEORY OF CONSTRAINTS HANDBOOK Edited by James F Cox and John G Schleier

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