Conflict resolution is an ongoing process—unlike in movies and sitcoms, there is rarely one moment in which all disagreements are neatly settled to everyone's satisfaction. However, that doesn't mean that the members of an organization shouldn't strive to settle the conflicts they have with one another. It may not happen overnight, but with determination and dedication, it can happen. Thomas Crum observes, "Resolving conflict is rarely about who is right. It is about acknowledgement and appreciation of differences."
The rewards of this acknowledgment and appreciation can be great. "Some conflict is productive and necessary for an effective organization, as constructive use of differences fosters organizational excellence," note authors Kirk Blackard and James Gibson. They stress that conflict—when properly managed—can boost creativity in an organization through healthy interchange, improve decisions by having different viewpoints, and contribute to organizational learning.
Of course, it can be difficult to see the potential for opportunity within conflict. One of the daunting realizations about conflict is that there may not be a clear solution in sight—in other words, there is risk involved in taking that first conciliatory step. However, unless we're willing to take a risk, we'll never discover the opportunities that lie beyond the horizon.
BUILDING THE ACCOUNTABLE ORGANIZATION
Thomas F. Crum, The Magic of Conflict (New York: Touchstone, 1987), 49.
Kirk Blackard and James Gibson, Capitalizing on Conflict: Strategies and Practices for Turning Conflict to Synergy in Organizations (Palo Alto, CA: Davies-Black Publishing, 2002), 4.