The idea of a triage comes from the health sector and is used to sort and prioritise medical conditions according to their level of seriousness at emergency units. A  heart attack has a higher priority than a sprained ankle and the case is treated differently from the very start. On an assignment for SKL International (the international section of the Swedish Association of Municipalities and Regions), we were asked by Colombia’s Departamento Nacional de Planeación (DNP) whether we could develop a triage for mediation of social conflicts. The Dialogue Triage was what we came up with.

Much of the content is based on an approach developed together with SALAR to address complex social problems through public dialogue.


Our mission is to support local, regional and national authorities in moving towards meaningful dialogue as a way to resolve complex societal challenges. We believe that by using the existing collective wisdom, decisions will be more robust and sustainable.

The content and form of the Dialogue Triage arises from our work in partnership with SALAR and is inspired by Myrna Lewis (Lewis Deep Democracy), Transformative Mediation and many others working with facilitation, mediation and design.


The Dialogue Triage is still in a prototyping phase. It is being tested in different settings and improving it as we go along.

We envisage different versions of the matrix for different settings. The triage in Colombia will differ from that in Sweden. A triage for environmental problems or infrastructure projects will differ from that used by local governments.



We distinguish between simple, complicated and complex problems. Simple and complicated problems can be managed through planning and rational processes involving expert knowledge. Complex problems, however, need to be dealt with collaboratively. Working with these problems can be challenging. An attitude of inclusion, empathy and flexibility is required. 

Dealing with a complex problem as if it were simple or complicated, risks increasing the level of tension and conflict. All failed attempts at resolving a complex problem add to its level of complexity. 


When we experience conflict we tend to narrow their focus rather than to open up. We see others as opponents and become more self-absorbed. We don’t see the whole picture but get stuck in our own perspective. We easily end up in a spiral where the conflict escalates and deepens. 

It is possible for us to reverse the escalation of the conflict. Conflict can be the catalist that leads to better relationships and improved social structures. Inclusion of the marginalised voice is key to this process. People can resolve their conflicts if the right conditions are created by facilitators and mediators. 



We are constantly trying to improve the Dialogue Triage in order to offer better support to all who wish to use the tool to manage societal conflict and complex social problems. 

We welcome all suggestions for improvements. Click here to leave a comment or suggestion.