The Missing Tool in the Design Leadership Toolbox: Integrating Conflict Management into Collaborative Design

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Businesses often face the challenge of reaching out to people in contexts that are wholly different from the world they operate in and they are regularly attempting to create experiences for consumers that exist within complicated dynamics of social, economic, political, and cultural flux.

Arriving with training that encompasses everything from design research, iterative prototyping, tolerance of ambiguity, process-driven approaches, and an appreciation for wicked problems, Designers are uniquely positioned to be in roles of leadership within these businesses who are trying to create experiences for consumers.

Design Leaders ARE the bridges between businesses and the people they’re trying to serve.

Unfortunately, while Design Leaders can speak in the voice of the customer, drive the innovation process, advocate for deferral of judgment, and diverge and converge with the best of them, one critical skill set is lacking from their Design toolbox: conflict management. Design Leaders need to develop conflict management tools or they will be left off of the invitation when all the leaders sit down around the industry table to talk about innovation.

Conflict management as an area of research and development has been around for quite some time and has a number of valuable tools that can be easily adapted to fit into Collaborative Design processes. This paper will provide a deeper dive into one tool that has been developed specifically for Design Leaders to incorporate into the convergent phases of their Collaborative Design process: the Interest-Based Converge Process.

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