Blogs By
Ralph H. Kilmann

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

Since the early 1970s, two dimensions have been used to plot the five conflict modes: Assertiveness and Cooperativeness (my attempts to satisfy my own needs versus my attempts to satisfy the other person's needs, respectively). During the past decade, however, I have often modified those two underlying dimensions to draw special attention to unique kinds of conflicts....

The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI) assesses five conflict modes: competing, collaborating, compromising, avoiding, and accommodating. These five behavioral choices are defined by two underlying dimensions: assertiveness and cooperativeness....

I offer an experiential exercise to illustrate the system, the people, and the distribution of power in organizations. The exercise has been called "Star Power” or the "Power Lab." I first experienced it as part of an experiential program conducted by NTL (National Training Laboratories), which was developed by Barry Oshry....

When people see the above title on one of my live presentations, they usually ask: “What does philosophy have to do with conflict management?” I respond: “Everything!” There are two philosophical inquiring systems that are particularly relevant to conflict management: (1) the Lockean Inquiring System and (2) the Hegelian Inquiring System....

At the heart of every reward system is a list of hidden assumptions about these fundamental questions: What is motivation? What is a reward? What is performance? What is measurement? And, accordingly, how should the organization motivate high performance -- measured accurately -- with its extrinsic and intrinsic rewards?...

Perhaps two of the most challenging conflicts confronting organizations today concern (1) formulating strategy and then (2) manifesting it throughout the organization’s lines of business, departments, workgroups, and jobs. Just like the danger of defining a problem incorrectly, developing the wrong strategy throws everything out of whack....

Here is a far-reaching question: What causes conflict? In particular, does conflict largely stem from differences within and between people? Or does conflict primarily arise from the attributes and forces in the situation, that is, the larger system within which people interact with one another? 

In my experience, I have found that the great majority of the conflict we experience stems from the system -- not the people....

I’d like to comment on the organic relationship between the MBTI and the TKI—between psychological types and conflict modes, and between magnifying differences and resolving differences. In this discussion, I will suggest how educational settings (high schools, colleges, and universities) can provide students with a very powerful experiential exercise—one that vividly demonstrates (1) WHY different students value some careers over others and (2) HOW they can resolve the many conflicting choices before them....