How to use dialogue, tension and conflict as a key for creative, collective growth
Creativity, innovation and transformation are phenomenas – we aim for – in each form of organization. In fact, they emerge out of diversity in groups. Just that, quite often, we fear the ‚difference’ rather than feeling attracted by it. Why?
The causal chain behind: the bigger the differences in groups, the higher the intensity of tension. And the more diversity, the bigger the number of tension fields. Finally, intense tension often leads into conflict.
No doubt, conflict is scaring. It is the most difficult part in a relationship. Furthermore, conflict rises emotions, whereas we like to have our feelings ‚under control’ and this especially in an organizational environment.
At this point, it is important to be aware that the avoidance of conflict causes emotional blocks. And as a consequence the emotions find subtle ways into bad moods, anger and/or depression. The more we oppress conflicts, the more we loose joy, creativity and connection. The philosopher Byung Chul Han explains this dynamic in his book ‚Agony of Eros’ describing a contemporary social depression as a result of our continuous search for ‚pseudo‘ harmony by always focussing on commonalities and not giving space for differences.
A healthier and more sustainable attitude is a clear ‚Yes to the conflict’. Each conflict can be a source for creative energy and growth. If we successfully resolve or transform a conflict, it leads into creative energy and a deeper connection. This is the case regarding inner and relationship work in private and organizational life.
What are ’new‘ ways to deal with tensions and conflicts in organizations?
At the end of the 80ies Arnold Mindell developed the Deep Democracy approach and since then numerous facilitators apply it successfully in conflictual political but also Western organizational settings. Deep Democracy is a theoretical and methodological framework. It gives equally space for linear logic argumentation like for non linear emotional aspects of relationship work.
This means for a leader or facilitator to develop awareness and eldership to be able to
– give space for multiple perspectives
– enable interactions between different positions
– elaborate creative solutions
– deepen relationship
– create community spirit
A concrete Deep Democracy intervention for large groups is the so called Open Forum:
1. It starts with short warm up speeches (appr. 5min) to create a field of diverse opinions
2. In a next step the discussion opens up for the public so that broad range of opinions but also tensions and polarities get visible
3. Important is to include voices that are normally not easily expressed so called ‚ghost roles’
4. The deepening of one or more tension fields leads into a new understanding on both sides
5. The role of the facilitator is not to control but to support the process so that transformation becomes possible