C: A COMPLICATED PROBLEM WITH TENSION
THE NATURE OF THE PROBLEM
Complicated problems consist of several parts that need to be incorporated into a planning process. Due to the fact that tension is present, expert knowledge, information and consultation may not suffice in dealing with this problem. Some form of dialogue is required to deal with the tension before it escalates further. Alternatively, a dialogue-based inquiry may contribute to the de-escalation of conflict.
The level of risk is relatively low. Decision-makers do however need to be aware that the following could lead to an escalation of conflict/tension or to increased complexity:
- if existing tension is ignored and contact with the concerned parties is not established
- if information and consultation are regarded as sufficient and dialogue is not considered
- if the information used by the experts proves to be incorrect or inadequate
- if stakeholders feel excluded or ignored due to the fact that they have not been informed about decisions that will have an impact on them
- if questions that arise are not answered and concerns not attended to
- if participants’ views and questions during the dialogue (or in a consultation process) are not taken to heart
- if unexpected events stir up emotions amongst the stakeholders
- if the tension creates stress in the organisations that are involved
- if negotiations do not take account of the tension that exists and a relational approach is not followed
People are engaged. The problem is still relatively predictable in nature. This is an excellent opportunity to channel the engagement of stakeholders towards constructive participation. Listening to the “no” (objections, criticism, concerns, doubts) early on in a process can lead to better and more sustainable results in the long run.