Strategic Planning that Encapsulates Conflict

I lead strategic planning workshops for both businesses and activist groups that are struggling with conflict. The usual goal is to find, isolate and encapsulate the conflict so you can work around it. This approach doesn't force agreement, but helps you recognize more clearly what you agree and disagree on, and then find a plan of action that works well-enough for everyone.

A few years ago I was a member of a vegetarian advocacy organization where the purist-vegans and the mainstreamers were in conflict, and both came to me. Both sides seemed to think I agreed with them. Because I did. I like a lot of people and a lot of ideas, even those that contradict. I found myself drifting towards a mediator role.

But I'm not a fan of endless talk. I start my own projects, activist organizations and businesses, and help others with strategic planning.

There is a place for those skills to come together. I'd like to bring strategic planning to organizations that have conflicts. These conflicts could be simple, such as different vision's of an organization's website. Or complex and personal, such as differing visions on where a movement should go.

My role would not be to make decisions. I would be a facilitator. There are areas where I can bring substantial expertise, such as web development, and areas where I would merely facilitate other people's expertise.

The ideal candidate for these sessions would be an organization that has at least partly identified a stumbling block: people are having conversations that go nowhere except to one area of confusion, despite a desire to work together. I'll lead a workshop to help everyone understand where the other side is coming from, and without attempting to really solve disagreements, isolate them so that you can work together. The bonding experience of successfully working on the pieces you agree on can quickly work at dissolving the sense of conflict, often more than therapeutic sessions ever could.

Workshops

I'm happy to facilitate a session with causes I believe in that are struggling, for example, with more and less radicalized factions. I'm also available for hire to work on the strategic planning and then architecting of websites, web applications or RFPs (Drupal is currently my main area of focus). My preference and strength is to go beyond the neutral facilitation of a mediator, and bring experience starting businesses into actively finding strategic plans that work around or step past the areas of conflict. Sometimes you can make no progress in agreeing on what seem like fundamental points, and yet find a way to all work together -- and after working together, almost magically the fundamental points will loosen up.

Examples

  • I've started a few very-small businesses and advised startups making simultaneous mission and technology decisions with limited resources. I'm particularly interested in working with social-enterprises, and open to fair exchange (equity, baybucks) if you are just starting.
  • An environmental group where some people want to recycle, and others want lock-down protests, and your meetings drag on accomplishing neither? A movement with protestors whose styles interfere with each other?
  • Simpler examples would be a nonprofit or business with different departments, with different interests and goals. In my experience as a web developer, the different interests often influence aspects of the website like a battle, with almost random successes and failures by each person or department. Instead, being conscious of the different goals, it's possible to prioritize and balance.
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