A step-by-step process for transforming contentious disagreements into creative collaboration

R. Edward Freeman, Mark E. Haskins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleOtherpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


– The authors propose that “root cause analysis,” coupled with critical thinking, is applicable to understanding and resolving contentious disagreements that arise from time to time within management teams. By subjecting the disagreement to a step-by-step analytical process, a rich array of considerations often surfaces, a more expansive discussion ensues, and the decided course of action is likely to be more wholeheartedly embraced.

– The authors demonstrate how leaders can resolve conflicts productively by creating a culture of candor and methodically exploring the root cause underlying critical management team disagreements. They have organized the process into three parts.

– When a management team acknowledges and addresses “[…]the disagreement and they start to look for the real issue and separate the symptoms from the causes,” that is when the potential for positive outcomes arises and disagreement recedes.

Practical implications
– The authors show that a guided, analytical root-cause process for resolving disagreements is a worthy addition to every strategic leader’s tool kit.

– This step-by-step process is easy for a leaders at all levels to internalize and practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-22
Number of pages8
JournalStrategy & Leadership
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 13 May 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • conflict resolution
  • leadership decision making
  • decision framing
  • root-cause analysis

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