Blogs By
Ralph H. Kilmann

Addressing the four timeless topics: conflict,
change, consciousness, and transformation

Take some quiet time to reflect on how approaches to achieve organizational success have evolved since the industrial revolution, particularly with regard to the progression of human skills that have been sought after, brought into the workplace, and then rewarded if used to accomplish the organization’s goals....

During the past few decades, I’ve introduced organizations and their members to such timeless topics as self-awareness, mindfulness, consciousness, subtle energy, and mind/body/spirit modalities. These topics are often pursued outside an organization, in an individual’s person life, but these same topics are often taboo to discuss (or consider) in the workplace. And yet, these timeless topics have everything to do with a person’s wellbeing...

In most organizations, there usually is a silent, rarely discussed set of CULTURAL NORMS (also called “rules of the road” or, more simply, “how we do things around here”). These actual norms of behavior can significantly discourage members from discussing their mental health challenges with their colleagues, including anything having to do with their anxieties, fears, doubts, traumas, nightmares, illnesses, addictions, etc. that interfere with their sleep, concentration, well-being, and happiness....

Why does one organization have a very adaptive culture while another has a culture that lives in the past? Is one a case of good fortune and the other a result of bad luck? On the contrary, it seems that any organization can find itself with an outdated culture if its culture is not being managed explicitly....

The culture of a family, community, or organization partially determines whether a given conflict mode (particularly collaborating) can be used effectively. In this discussion, I will briefly outline how the actual cultural norms can first be identified and then changed into desired norms—so that all conflict modes can be used effectively....

Lately, I seem to be getting more requests to reduce the complexity of conflict management and the TKI Assessment into a few simple "tips" that people can quickly learn and use. I've had a great reluctance to do this in the past, given my many years of decrying the use of quick fixes for addressing complex problems. Nevertheless, I decided to give it a try and see what happens! So, here are my SIX TIPS...

In 1970, while enrolled in UCLA’s doctoral program in the behavioral sciences, I took the Myers Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI) assessment for the first time. I came out as an INFP—very slight on I, moderate on F, but very clear on N and P. Later, as a professor at the University of Pittsburgh, I published several books and articles using psychological type to classify, for example, different organizational and group structures, different criteria for measuring organizational effectiveness, and different steps for defining and solving complex problems....

To highlight the value of seeing the big picture (as represented by the "Quantum Wheel") and transforming an old Newtonian organization into a new quantum organization, let me share with you what I learned from a three-day workshop that I conducted for the fifty senior executives of a large division of a Fortune 100 company....

The typical TKI lesson is learning to choose when to use each conflict mode, depending on the key characteristics of the conflict situation—for example, the amount of stress involved, the time available for resolution, the relative importance of the issue to each person, and the conflict’s complexity. Yet rarely discussed are the two very different ways that each mode can, in practice, be used, and which result in different outcomes....