Dealing With All the Different Interdependent Requirements – Part 2

Let’s remember what we are talking about …

In the dynamic landscape of modern business, organizations constantly navigate a labyrinth of competing demands. These include ensuring product quality, optimizing time to market, maintaining safety, enhancing security, and driving profitability while also navigating a complex web of legal and compliance issues that span multiple jurisdictions. Finding a balance among these competing priorities is not just about survival—it’s about thriving in a competitive market. But how do organizations balance these complex, often conflicting requirements without losing their competitive edge?

Understanding the Challenge of Complexity

Every department within an organization, from Product Management and Development to Sales, Support, and Legal, comes with its unique priorities and perspectives. The challenge lies not just in meeting these individual needs but in achieving a harmonious balance that propels the entire organization forward.

In Part 1 we found some approaches, but all of them came from the assumption of a complicated – which is deterministic – world view. But we actually now we are in a complex system. So, what can we do now?

However, in complex environments, the interdependencies among these components are not always fully understandable—if they were, the environment wouldn’t be complex. This unpredictability means that traditional problem-solving models, which rely on predictability and linear cause-and-effect, are often inadequate.

Collaborative Approaches to Complex Challenges

The Theory of Collaboration

In 1978, Derr proposed that members of an organization should openly express their differences and work toward solutions that satisfy all parties involved. This requires acknowledging that all organizational members are interdependent, capable of open interaction, and willing to invest the necessary time and energy to develop and maintain these relationships. This collaborative theory suggests that by working together, teams can find innovative solutions that no single individual could have devised alone.

Power Plays and Conflict

On the opposite spectrum of collaboration is the ‘power play’ approach, which is rooted in an antagonistic ethos where parties operate based on rational self-interest. This method can lead to winner-loser outcomes and is typically reserved for situations requiring autonomy or where ideological conflicts prevail. While effective in certain scenarios, this approach can exacerbate divisions within an organization and hinder long-term cooperation.

Goal Interdependence

Another potent method is the goal interdependence approach, highlighted by Tjosvold, Dann, and Wong in 1992. This approach emphasizes that cooperative goals and open discussions of conflicting views are crucial for fulfilling customer needs, completing tasks effectively, utilizing resources efficiently, and strengthening expectations for future collaboration. It is particularly valuable in tasks requiring teamwork, a shared vision, or complementary roles.

Recent Research and Effectiveness of Different Approaches

In the last two decades, new research has shed light on the effectiveness of these conflict management strategies within organizations. Studies have shown:

  • Cooperative Approaches: Research by Alper, Tjosvold, and Law in 2000 found that cooperative conflict management leads to effective resolution, which in turn boosts performance in organizational teams. This supports the model that cooperation, as opposed to competition, enhances conflict effectiveness and thereby improves performance. [OrgIQ: This is the foundation of the Network.]
  • Conflict Management as a Tool for Organizational Effectiveness: More recent research in 2020 by John-Eke and Akintokunbo demonstrates that constructively managed conflicts can lead to healthy competition, enhance team participation, and bridge communication gaps, ultimately leading to greater organizational effectiveness. [OrgIQ: We call this “Truth”.]
  • Conflict Management and Innovation: A 2006 study on Chinese teams by Tjosvold, Law, and Sun found that cooperative conflict management approaches correlated with perceptions of team effectiveness by both team managers and members, although the type of conflict played an ambivalent role in team effectiveness. [OrgIQ: Actually the full Collaboration model from Trust to Productivity.]

These studies highlight that the way conflicts are managed can significantly affect productivity and well-being within organizations. A cooperative approach, in particular, seems to be especially effective in enhancing both performance and satisfaction.


As businesses continue to navigate complex environments, the integration of diverse perspectives through collaborative approaches will be key to balancing the myriad demands of modern business. By fostering an environment where different departments and individuals can openly share and resolve their differences, organizations not only enhance their operational efficiency but also cultivate a workplace culture that is resilient, innovative, and aligned with long-term success.


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