Collaboration, real collaboration, happens when all of us contribute. And often our contribution is a different point of view, a question, a sense of curiosity, a willingness to listen, a willingness to speak up, and an ability to help others face and navigate conflict.
In this interesting keynote, Navigating Conflict on Agile Teams: Why “Resolving” Conflict Won’t Work, Lyssa Adkins explains how to welcome and encourage differing views so that the team can grow and become high performing. She presents a model of levels of conflict, inspiring us to engage at Level 1.

  • Level 1: When there are problems to solve, people engage in conflict openly & constructively. Live in constructive disagreement. Sounds like: I don’t think you are hearing me. What do you think I said? Stop let’s not go there (help each other look forward, not backward). What I’m hearing is…. Here’s where I think we are today and here are some ways we could move forward.
  • Level 2: Disagreement becomes as important as solving the problem. Holding cards close to the vest, blaming, protecting, distancing, conversations don’t add up.
  • Level 3: Real issue gets lost, over generalizing, Sounds like: he always___, he never___, other side of presumptions, I know what they think.
  • Level 4: Crusaders refusing to listen to one another, philosophical, think other side will never change, not even worth talking. Sounds like: language becomes ideological, entrenched positions.
  • Level 5: World war, full on combat. Sounds like: war. Approach: separate the combatants.
  • Level 6: Silent but deadly. Volcano ready to blow.
  • So next time you see  Level 2 thru 6, try to help the team move back to Level 1. It only takes one person to start a change for the better!

PS: In early November Lyssa will be leading a session at the Agile track of our PMI SF Project Management Day in San Francisco. And she will also be teaching a 2 day class on coaching agile teams. Hope to see you there!


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