ТОП 10:

Figure 4: Transformational Platform



Figure 4 presents this idea by adding to our process-structure (Figure 3) the escalation of conflict episodes, with the platform underlining it all. The process-structure spiral can be seen as the epicenter of the conflict, and the peaks or waves of the conflict as the episodes. The general rise and fall of the conflict and change processes provide an ongoing base from which processes can be generated. The escalation of conflict creates opportunity to establish and sustain this base. From the transformational view, developing a process to provide a solution to these immediate conflicts or problems is important, but not the key. More important in the long run is generating processes that: 1) provide adaptive responses to the immediate and future repetition of conflict episodes; and 2) address the deeper and longer-term relational and systemic patterns that produce violent, destructive expressions of conflict.


A conflict transformation platform must be short-term responsive and long-term strategic. It must have the capacity to generate and regenerate change processes responsive to both episodes and the context or epicenter. Because of its dynamism and complexity, the platform is a process-structure, not just a process and not just a structure. A transformation platform must be adaptive, for it understands that conflict and change are constant, but the specific solutions and the forms they take are ephemeral.


Conflict transformation is a circular journey with a purpose. Undertaking this journey requires preparation.



Developing Our Capacities


As I have moved from thinking conceptually about conflict transformation to applying it, I have found it important to cultivate the following personal practices:


Practice 1:

Develop a capacity to see

Presenting issues as a window


A transformational approach requires that we develop a capacity to see the immediate situation without being captivated, overwhelmed, or driven by the demands of presenting issues. It requires an ability to avoid the urgency that pushes for a quick solution and the anxieties that often accompany a system of relationships as conflict escalates.


The key to this practice requires these disciplines: 1) the ability to look and see beyond the presenting issues; 2) an empathy that allows one to understand the situation of another (person or group) but not to be drawn into the spin of their anxieties and fears; and 3) a capacity to create avenues of response that take seriously the presenting issues but are not driven by the need for quick solutions.


How do we do this? One way is to envision the presenting issues as a window. Windows are important in themselves, but once they are in place we rarely look at the window. We look through the glass, focusing our attention on what lies beyond the window. Likewise in conflict transformation we do not focus primary attention on the issues themselves in order to seek an apparent rapid solution. Rather, we look through the issue to bring into focus the scene that lies beyond the immediate situation. This requires us to differentiate between content of a conflict and its context.


When we use presenting issues as a window we approach conflict with two lenses. One brings into focus the substance of the content, and the other seeks to see in and through the content, to the nature of the context and relational patterns. This approach calls us to differentiate between what some have called the symptomatic content of a crisis and the underpinning emotional process. [3]


This ability to look at, as well as through, permits us to develop a change-oriented process that is responsive to the immediate content and addresses the greater context within which it was given birth.


Practice 2:

Develop a capacity to integrate

Multiple time frames


The capacity to see through the window of the immediate situation assumes a second important discipline: the ability to think and act without being bound by the constraints of a short-term view of time. This does not mean that we think long-term simply to prevent or correct the shortsightedness of working in a crisis mentality. Rather, it means to create strategies that integrate short-term response with long-term change; we must be short-term responsive and long-term strategic.


This approach requires processes with a variety of time frames. It is important to be able to be comfort-able with this multiplicity of time lines.


One specific tool that helps develop this capacity is to visualize time as connected to specific needs at different levels. A system-wide change process that addresses the culture of an organization—for example, how departments will be re-conceived and coordinated within an organization in order to reflect a new mission statement—may need to be thought about as a multi-year process. Who will be responsible for working Saturdays during this next year while the discussions are ongoing? This need requires a short-term, immediate process that produces clear, workable solutions to a specific problem.


If people can see what, when, and why things are happening, if they have a visual time frame that integrates and delineates the types of processes and the time provided for dealing with each one of them, then they can more easily comprehend the idea of immediate problem-solving and longer-range strategic change.


The transformation-oriented practitioner must cultivate the capacity to recognize what sorts of process-related time frames may be necessary to address the different kinds of change required.


Practice 3:

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