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Solving Tough Problems: An Open Way of Talking, Listening, and Creating New Realities Paperback – August 1, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
The former "head of Social, Political, Economic and Technological Scenarios" for Royal Dutch/Shells London office, Kahane is now an international mediation consultant. He offers problem-solving guidance by way of narrative biography, describing his extensive experience in defining and tackling tough problems, those that "usually dont get solved peacefully. They either dont get solved at allthey get stuckor they get solved by force." The details of his interventions may be fresher than the advice they can be boiled down to: the most important problem-solving components, Kahane says, are talking and listening openly, reflectively and empathetically. Yet when Kahane describes the 1996 and 1997 meetings he helped convene in Colombia between the government and armed factions on the left and the right, the fragility of his concepts and the importance of committing to them in good faith become clear. A workshop he describes at the University of the North in South Africa, "a rural, apartheid-era institution with a history of conflict between radical black students and conservative white faculty," makes for another of many compelling object lessons. Companies and individuals who dont face potentially violent disagreement or carry bitter histories of violence will still find thought-provoking (occasionally verging on spiritual) discourse on handling difficult situations gracefully, productively and calmly.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Kahane has written a brave and powerful book. He argues convincingly that winning solutions are found by listening, not by telling. Leadership is important, but the best leaders are good listeners. I have worked with him and he is right. Simply put: it works!" - Len Lindegren, former Global Strategy Leader, PricewaterhouseCoopers "There are no magical solutions here. This is not another "how-to" book. Instead, Kahane provides us with the very personal story of how he grew from a young expert convinced of the need to provide the "correct" answers, to an effective facilitator of positive change - by learning how to create environments that enable new ideas and creative solutions to emerge. This book explores the connection between individual learning and institutional change, and how leaders can move beyond politeness and formal statements, beyond routine debate and the defense of their positions, towards deeper and more generative dialogue. It should be read by anyone who is concerned with the quality of decision-making in today's democracies." - Elena Martinez, Assistant Secretary General, United Nations" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
If the topic of complex social problem solving interests you, look into Dr. Don Beck's audiobook of 6 CDs on his great influence in Africa at the same time. Also check out his "Spiral Dynamics" for mind-blowing revelations about how social issues really work and how to solve them.
Another aspect of this book that is better handled by other authors is the topic of non-violent communication. Again I prefer audiobooks and the ones by Marshall Rosenberg can teach you how to do it.
"Collaboration" and "Dialogue" are certainly buzzwords these days, and there is much form in that regard, but not as much substance as we need. That is, there is much pretending in the way of "collaboration" and "listening" to the opinions of others, but in reality the "listening" is a show. His discussion of "listening" throughout this book, what it is and what it is not, is the bright spot in my opinion. There is a false way of listening that may appear as sincere as the real, but it's not, and it's not helpful. I also really like his statement that "The root of not listening is knowing.", or thinking you know. I can't count the number of times I have seen this happen, and how many times I have been guilty of it myself. When you think you know, you stop seeking and you are incapable of seeing the truth, even when it is right in front of you. It is self-deception of the highest order. "Being and expert is a severe impediment to listening and learning."
He shows the prerequisites for a successful collaboration and the astounding results that can be achieved. He advocates convincingly for a new approach to the toughest problems we face. I have been seeing this approach emphasized in other items I have been reading as well.
It was not his purpose, but I can't help but wish he would given us more technical details on his scenario building work, as well as more details on how to structure and facilitate the "dialogue" meetings he advocates. Don't let the use of the phrase "new realities" make you pause, it is not an expression of naive idealism, rather, it is his way of saying what can be achieved versus the ineveitable failure we have and will experience if we keep using the same failed approaches we have always used. You can't accuse him of being naive and unrealistic when everything he discusses is documented reality and in which he was a direct participant.
As I said, he accomplished his purpose with flying colors, I just wish his purpose was a little broader.