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Progress comes from the intelligent use of experience. Elbert Hubbard

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Collaborating with the Enemy

Collaborating with the Enemy

A counter-intuitive approach to learn how to collaborate with people we don't like.

Author(s): Adam Kahane

Publisher: Berrett-Koehler

Date of publication: 2017

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How can we collaborate with people we don’t like, who we don’t trust, and whose views we don’t share? At a time when cooperation is considered a business imperative, this question may seem abrupt. Yet it is asked every single day.

The author believes that we have an excessively idealized view of cooperation, which penalizes us in complex situations. We presume that by talking to one another, people of good will should be able to agree on a factual diagnosis, then on a progressive trajectory for change—or reconciliation, when they are in conflict. But this very hypothesis is debatable: is it truly possible to bring viewpoints together when each of them is coherent but also reliant on diametrically opposed value systems? And, more crucially, is there any point in fighting to do so?

Adam Kahane shows that it is possible to adopt a different approach: two hostile camps can, under certain conditions, move forward together, on limited matters. And this “small steps” approach ends up being more productive than the search for a preliminary consensus.

A counter-intuitive approach, but a convincing one!