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Generating Options

Generating Options

Author: marlene johnson

At the end of this tutorial, the learner will understand how to help parties generate options to consider for inclusion in their solution

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Video Transcription

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A key component of conflict resolution is to help parties work together jointly to come up with the best possible solutions to their conflict. I'm Marlene, and I'd like to talk about a part of that process where the parties generate options. OK, so we've gotten to the point in the process where the parties have uncovered their interests, the real needs that they have.

And, of course, their interests are why they are really there. And they've probably come in with positions, the positions being what they thought they needed, what they thought the solution was. And the positions were opposing each other, which is perhaps why they were in conflict. But through discussion we've uncovered the underlying interests and needs. We've listed those. So I have here party A, and here's a list of needs that party A has, and party B, here's a list of party B's needs.

So after we've listed all these needs, the interests and needs, we put together a problem statement that went something like this. How can we meet party A's needs, party B's needs, and the listed shared needs of both parties at the same time? Now, this question invites an answer. It invites us to look for all possible ways we can meet these needs. So how do we do that? We do it through brainstorming.

Now, brainstorming is a process of generating as many ideas as rapidly as possible. And here's what's key, without evaluating any of them. And you might say, well, why not evaluate? If there's a ridiculous idea, why don't we just get rid of it? We don't want to do that, because even if there is an idea that seems unworkable or sort of silly, it might be an idea that you'll look at it, and maybe a little later it makes you think of something that would work. Or you look at it and think, well, that's really silly. But you know, maybe we could modify that in a way, because it's making me think of something.

I actually think of a situation where a community was looking at ways to get youth off the streets at night, because they were causing trouble. And what are we going to do about this? And somebody jokingly threw out an idea. Maybe we should expand our daycare center, get some baby sitters for these teenagers. Everybody laughed. But they put the idea down.

About 10 minutes later somebody said, you know, that daycare idea, I mean, obviously we're not going to put the kids in daycare, but what about some after school program? What about some weekend programs? Maybe we could ask the kids what they might be interested in. Could we put together some after school and even on the weekend evening programs? And people thought about it. Yeah, well, maybe we should explore that. Maybe we should bring the kids in, ask them what they'd like.

So it led to a whole new process of generating an idea which ultimately worked. But it occurred to somebody from that kind of silly idea about baby sitters and day care. So that's why you don't want to throw anything off the table at this point. And also as part of the process the parties are working jointly. So if one party said, well, I think we should could do this or that and listed something, and the other party said, well, that's kind of dumb, it could shut down the process. So the focus here is putting positive attention on generating ideas.

So we are going to brainstorm ideas. I'm going to write brainstorming down. We're going to brainstorm as many ideas as we can for each one of the needs. So let's start over here with party B. We're going to take party B's first need. We'll write that down, and we'll brainstorm options. And we're going to come up with as many possible options as we can think of. And once we do that for party B, we'll go on. Maybe we'll go over and we'll take one of party A's. So we'll take the first one here in party A's list. And once again we're going to generate as many options as we can think of.

Now we'll continue to do this for all of the listed needs, come up with as many possible options as we can think of through the brainstorming process. And it's important to not evaluate. So I want to say something again about suspending judgement. This is the point in the process where you're focusing on all the ideas that you can to meet these needs. And we don't want to evaluate or judge any of them.

Once again, it's important to reassure the parties that we will be evaluating these ideas in the next stage of this process. Once we get out as many ideas as possible, we will go back and look at those ideas and evaluate them. We are also going to, during that evaluative phase, not only evaluate ideas, but we are going to put these together into one comprehensive solution. So we'll do that once we have all the options listed.

So once again, the generating options point of the period of the conflict resolution process is the time when the parties come together and jointly list all the options they can think of to meet their mutual needs, their joint needs. And then we move into the evaluative process. Thank you for joining me today, and I look forward to next time.

Terms to Know

A process of generating ideas or solutions as rapidly and in as great a number as possible, without evaluating them.

Suspending Judgement

Refraining from evaluation of an idea, situation or person.