Conflict Management Systems

There has been a fast-growing interest by organisations operating in historically conflict-prone environments, or where negotiations are typically highly challenging, to consider formulating dedicated conflict management systems, to help steer all parties towards a systematic dispute resolution process, rather than encounter the difficulties often encountered in getting all parties to a negotiating table.
Several excellent books have described conflict management systems across various areas, including:

Designing a good conflict management system is an essential ingredient in any major project management venture.  It impacts directly not only on relationships, but on profitability. The direct cost of conflicts can easily represent 3% of the total project cost, and potentially much more.

This Powerpoint presentation by Danish mediator and attorney Tina Monberg describes how a system can best be devised to meet the requirements of each situation – whether in the construction industry or not – and illustrates the benefits using the example of the famous Øresund Bridge, the longest road and rail bridge in Europe linking Denmark and Sweden.  Built between 1995 and 1999, the project overcame numerous challenges, including 16 unexploded World War II bombs and a skewed tunnel segment. All were overcome without conflicts, litigation, accidents and destroyed relationships.

A model for the benefits of a good conflict management system. Read it here.

Two of the most-used system tools are Dispute Resolution Boards and Alignment Partnering. The construction field has developed both through experience, and the lessons gained can be applied in other fields.

Dispute Resolution Boards (DRBs).

Kurt Dettman and Bill Baker provide an introduction to Dispute Resolution Boards in this presentation. 

“A Dispute Review Board (DRB) is a board of impartial professionals formed at the beginning of the project to follow construction progress, encourage dispute avoidance, and assist in the resolution of disputes for the duration of the project.”
Presented by: Kurt Dettman and Bill Baker
“Outside the Box” Conference, Pepperdine University, April 7, 2011

Alignment Partnering

Kurt Dettman and Bill Baker detail the benefits of using Alignment Partnering to monitor construction projects, preventing and resolving disputes for the duration of the project.

They highlight the advantages of using approaches such as structured negotiation and collaboration and feedback, in promoting open communication and establishing positive relationships and therefore early identification and evaluation of disputes. Dettman and Baker note that ADR often treats the ‘symptoms’, rather than the ‘disease’, but that ADR shouldfocus more on prevention before resolution.

Presented by: Kurt Dettman and Bill Baker
“Outside the Box” Conference, Pepperdine University, April 7, 2011

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