Decision Workshops will always consider the most appropriate way to “deal with” dilemmas.
Some situations are competitive, some co-operative. Only in some cases are negotiations and formal communication possible. Decision Workshops does not assume a particular type of interaction to be best in all situations, but rather considers which would be most useful in the particular context.
Negotiations are the most common type of communication. Both sides make time to discuss and bargain for the outcome with each other. This enables clear communication, and statement of views, but sometimes there is not the time for these to be as complete as possible or there may be a lack of means to enforce agreement. By formally structuring what the dispute is about in terms of a card table, yet maintaining flexibility about means of achieving the ends, Decision Workshops can help make the most of limited negotiation time, by keeping the discussions on point.
A subset of negotiations is Mediation. This is great when both sides are negotiating and agree that they want a fair outcome. However, by the time both sides have agreed to go to mediation the problem is half solved. Part of the strength of Decision Workshops is the ability to works towards establishing mediation, as well as doing it.
Confrontation can include settling the matter by brute force, are often also accompanied by negotiations. The Cold War was an example of a confrontation, where both sides had credible deterrents, but throughout managed to avoid nuclear Armageddon by continuing to talk and bargain with one other throughout. Lawyers work assuming a confrontation that is also a negotiation.
Resignation is another way of eliminating dilemmas by giving up on trying to succeed. Sometimes even this is hard. For example, when sales people are asked to bid for a contract they rarely admit that the bid cannot be won and that they should try. Decision Workshops sessions have been used by sales teams to explain and justify a “no bid” on a contract, and thus save a company large amounts of money and effort.
Consider the format of TV programs such as The Apprentice or Big Brother. Here everyone competes and a single loser is eliminated at the end of each round. This is known as a “balloon debate” structure. In these programs interaction is specifically designed to induce conflict. It would be bad TV not to do this. However, the conflict is not pure as the group is also given complex tasks. The participants need to co-operate while organizing those tasks, but the format leaves a huge scope for conflict as blame is placed on individuals for anything that goes wrong. The person who can be blamed for failures is often eliminated. The good TV comes not from pure conflict, but from the dilemmas the participants suffer from, which force them to switch between co-operation and conflict.
Many business and political situations are analogous; neither pure conflict nor pure co-operation can be the answer. Decision Workshops uses a different paradigm, dilemma elimination.