The Value of Conflict Management

What is the true value of conflict management? The answer is to ask Macca’s neighbours.

Conflict is an intrinsic characteristic of humanity regardless of time, place or culture. It manifests itself in all human activity and every relationship we create. Conflict is always with us and yet the human race has time and again demonstrated breath-taking incompetence in mismanaging it.

Conflict can bring benefits but its more probable outcome is destructive.

battle of waterloo

The 27th (Inniskillings) at Waterloo. Courtesy of the Royal Irish Regiment.

The Battle of Waterloo (1815) ended Bonapartist France and heralded a period of unprecedented European stability. But at the cost of pushing the British National Debt to 237 percent of GDP in 1816.

The rest of the 19th century was spent in drawing the debt down, to a low of 25 percent of GDP in 1914, just before the outbreak of the First World War.

That’s the problem with conflict, you are damaged even when you win.

The problem is that it is almost impossible to put a value on conflict management until you can measure it against the probable outcomes and this week has thrown up 2 glaring examples.

Rugby World Cup.

Anyone who is interested in rugby will have read about the shock departure of Debbie Jevans, Chief Executive of England Rugby 2015 – the company set up to run the World Cup by the Rugby Football Union.

Debbie Jevans

Debbie Jevans published Daily Telegraph

Debbie cited personal reasons but the media have reported a destructive fracture with RFU.

The rugby world cup organisation will weather the storm and the tournament will be a great success, but that success will be soured by Jevans’s departure. The fall out will damage both parties reputations through the intangibles of competence, reliability and trust, not to mention the personal relationship between Jevans and Ian Ritchie, RFU chief executive.

Macca’s Neighbours.

Property millionaires Brenda Fenton and Clive Lewis, who are Paul McCartney’s London neighbours, have been locked in conflict concerning an adjoining blocked pipe since 1997.

Millionaire’s gutter row Published Daily Telegraph

Millionaire’s gutter row
Published Daily Telegraph

A judge brought the matter to a close this week by ruling in favour of Brenda Fenton with press speculation that total cost of the case can be rounded up to £500,000.

Mrs Fenton said that “I am just happy that after years of litigation, I’ve won”.

Quite, but it cost £250,000 of legal fees to do so and what does it say about their judgement. Would you want to do business or be neighbours with them? It sounds like a Phyrric victory to me.

This brings me neatly to the cost of failing to manage conflict. The judge concluded his summary by stating that it would have cost about £7,000 for a contractor to mend to original leaking gutter.

Based on this, I would put the value of conflict management at £493,000 not to mention the preservation of reputation, sanity and other intangibles.

It’s worth thinking about. In the meantime, have a great Easter break.

Change and conflict are our constant companions

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