Moving through a stalemate

Published on
August 3, 2015
Chris Taylor
"Ideas are only valuable when applied."
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Dialogue is good. Debate, discussion and impassioned opinions create better results. But there’s a fine line between arguing the merits of a particular solution and arguing strictly for the solution. It’s easy to slide from discussing a point to defending a point.

On a couple of occasions, I’ve found myself in a stalemate with fellow collaborators. The easy option is to pull rank; the more senior person in the relationship simply makes the choice and the team gets on board. Easy, but not necessarily the best decision, and certainly not one that gets everyone on board most effectively. There are times when speed is (and should be) a priority but, when possible, take a moment to go deeper into the underlying issue.

Internally, we use Roger Martin‘s Salient Factors approach to working through the roadblocks.

I’m taking this a little out of context, but here’s the gist:

Take a step back from the specific solutions in question. Instead of each person pushing for option A or B, take a few minutes to write out a list of the “off the table” needs; the components that the solution absolutely has to have. The focus moves from “defending a position” to “gaining greater clarity on the collective needs. This becomes the foundation for the discussion. Salient factors versus internal biases. Collaboration versus power struggle.

Read more on salient factors in The Opposable Mind and The Design of Business.