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The Primes: How any Group can Solve any Problem by CHRIS McGOFF

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Chapter 12

Managing Intractable Dilemmas

How do you end a never-ending argument?

You are about to meet the first, most often applied, and easiest to understand PRIME—and one that was so horribly mismanaged during the end of the twentieth century and beginning of the twenty-first century that we experienced a global financial collapse. The PRIME is called BIG HAT–LITTLE HAT. Michael Doyle had already been using it with groups for over 15 years when he introduced it to me in 1986. It was the first PRIME I learned to draw, and it is the one I draw most often today. BIG HAT–LITTLE HAT represents the tension between “good for me” versus “good for all.”

You are also going to learn about BIG HAT–LITTLE HAT's three siblings, which together represent the four most common intractable dilemmas that have been tearing groups apart since ancient times. As such, we turned to the ancient scholars to find the resolution principles to these dilemmas.

Mastering the three PRIMES revealed in this chapter will allow you to quickly recognize when people are arguing over a right versus right clash of values and trying to prove each other wrong in the process. You will be able to intervene to show them how futile this approach is. Finally, you will be able to shift their perspective from “I am right and you are wrong” to one where they work together with the resolution principles to find the “most right” solution.

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