After reading Adam Kahane’s Solving Tough Problems as part of a change management course (part of the MA Leadership curriculum), I was keen to read Collaborating with the Enemy, his latest book of tips. Although it was narrated well, I would not recommend the audio version. Don’t get me wrong, the narration was well-done, but the former student in me recommends sitting down with the book… and a highlighter to get the maximum benefit. Working in health care, I am used to change but this book helps readers to stop and consider their role in situations and how to help everyone co-create a solution through stretch collaboration which includes open listening.
What is stretch collaboration? As quoted from Adam Kahane’s website, his methods are described below:
stretch collaboration abandons the assumption of control. It gives up unrealistic fantasies of harmony, certainty, and compliance, and embraces messy realities of discord, trial and error, and cocreation. Stretch collaboration enables us to get things done even in complex situations with people we don’t agree with or like or trust.
Stretch collaboration requires us to make three fundamental shifts in how we work.
First, in how we relate with our fellow collaborators, we must stretch away from focusing narrowly on the collective goals and harmony of our team, and move toward embracing both conflict and connection within and beyond the team.
Second, in how we advance our work, we must stretch away from insisting on clear agreements about the problem, the solution, and the plan, and move toward experimenting systematically with different perspectives and possibilities.
And third, in how we participate in our situation—in the role we play—we must stretch away from trying to change what other people are doing, and move toward entering fully into the action, willing to change ourselves.
Stretch collaboration is challenging because all three of these stretches require us to do the opposite of what seems natural. Rather than shrink away from complexity and conflict, we must plunge into it. Often this feels uncomfortable and frightening.
Kahane’s method of stretch collaboration has been fine tuned during his experiences including working with the South African transition from apartheid to democracy and negotiating with guerrillas, unions and governments. He lives in both Montreal and Capetown but has spent time solving tough problems around the world.
.For more details, I would suggest getting a copy of the book (and a highlighter)! Readers can also sign up for free weekly emails providing details of learning how to stretch to augment your reading. I am hoping to have an opportunity to hear Adam Kahane speak and watching to see if there are any 2018 events in the Toronto area.