The 3rd Alternative to Conflict Resolution and Problem Solving by Stephen Covey

February 27, 2012 by  
Filed under Business, Personal, Relationships

Dr Stephen R. Covey is the bestselling author of the classic and influential business book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and he is an internationally respected leadership authority and organizational consultant. His latest book, The 3rd Alternative: Solving Life’s Most Difficult Problems, continues to help transform lives and businesses with his great insights in conflict resolution and creative problem solving.

In The 3rd Alternative, Dr Covey describes a new way to resolve professional and personal difficulties and create solutions. In a conflict, the 1st Alternative is my way and the 2nd Alternative is your way. Everyone identifies with one alternative or the other, and decides that one way is better than the other. The conflict between both parties usually results in a win-lose situation or even a lose-lose situation when both parties lose something to resolve the conflict and reach a ‘compromise’.

Dr Covey explains that the 3rd Alternative is about synergy, where one plus one equals ten or a hundred or even a thousand. Synergy is not the same as compromise, on the other hand, synergy is better than my way or your way. It is our way.

In the book, Dr Covey describes 4 steps to synergy or the 3rd Alternative:

1. Ask the 3rd Alternative Question

“Are you willing to go for a solution that is better than any of us have come up with yet?” If yes, go on to step 2. In a conflict, this question helps everyone move past firm positions or preconceived ideas toward developing a third better alternative. Everyone must show willingness to find a 3rd Alternative.

2. Define Criteria of Success

List the characteristics of a solution or outcome that would delight everyone. What does success look like to everyone? What outcomes do we really want? What would be a “win-win” for all concerned? Is everyone involved in setting the criteria? Are we looking past our entrenched demands to something better?

3. Create 3rd Alternative

Create models, draw pictures, borrow ideas, turn your thinking upside down. Work quickly and creatively. Suspend all judgement until that exciting moment when you know you have arrived at synergy.

4. Arrive at Synergy

You recognize the 3rd Alternative by the sense of excitement and inspiration in the room. The old conflict is abandoned and the new alternative meets the criteria of success. Avoid mistaking compromise for synergy.

These 4 steps to achieving the 3rd Alternative can be applied at work, home, school, and in society and the world. Dr Covey’s The 3rd Alternative unveils a creative new way of thinking, which transcends traditional solutions to conflict by creating a path toward a better third option.

Buy The 3rd Alternative book today!

Check out Dr Stephen R. Covey’s other bestselling books:

Images: Amazon

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