Books Read: “The Six Dilemmas of Collaboration”, Bryant   Leave a comment


Collaboration can be quite an integral factor for some in this networked economy. And as collaboration involves people, there is sure to be conflict.

This book addresses this conflict.

Bryant covers off the five ways that collaboration challenges are faced:
– process
– analysis
– culture
– technology
– structure

Now, as a baseline, there are six dilemmas and six related stances. Bryant’s aim is that strategic intent can be achieved through confrontations that are the result of strategic interaction. Its about the management of relationships.

The dilemmas (and related stances) are:
– threat (blusterer)
– persuasion (oppressed)
– rejection (appeaser)
– positioning (realist)
– co-operation (defector)
– trust (sceptic)

The thinking here is best quoted from the book:
“once characters have adoped clear positions in a collaborative situation they will find themselves at either a Committment Point or a Crisis Point. In either case they face dilemmas. At the former they will have to deal with Trust & Co-operation dilemmas; at the latter with dilemmas of Threat, Persuasion, Rejection and Positioning. To do so convincingly, their own preferences must shift so that any associated threats and promises become willing. Such transformations are accompanied by negative or positive emotions, respectively, toward the other characters. At these dramatic moments, driven by their emotions, characters may well act irrationality and in accordance with the new preferences towards which they are inclining. To handle the transitory dissonance between desire and action, characters will tend to reframe issues in such a way that their newly adoped positions can be supported by rational argument, free of paradox. The way that any individual deals with this whole process is characteristically distinctive and can be thought of as representing their ‘personality’.”

He uses both drama theory and game theory as a basis for his approach.

For me, not being an HR specialist, these frameworks are both illuminating and instructional to how difficulties in collaboration can be managed.

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