The Basic Course

Lesson 2:

Collaborative Problem Solving

The Basics of Collaborative Problem-Solving. This video provides an overview of the basic process of Needs-Based Problem-Solving. The ideas described in this video are relevant to addressing virtually any kind of conflict, whether it occurs in interpersonal, social, organizational or political contexts. To bridge divides on political issues, it is first necessary to understand how to resolve non-political forms of dispute. Many political issues can be resolved with Needs-Based Problem-Solving. Complex political issues typically require a more advanced forms of problem solving. These are described in more advanced videos and forums provided by Creating Common Ground.

Creating Common Ground: The Basics

An Example: Angie and the Raincoat. This is the first of several non-political examples of Needs-Based Problem-Solving. In this example, a girl and her mother have a conflict over whether or not the girl will wear her raincoat to school. It's an everyday conflict. Even so, it illustrates the general process of how to bridge divides between people. The key, at base, is to separate positions from the underlying needs, interests, fears and pleas that motivate those positions. For more on what this means and how to do this, watch this video.

An Example: Alyssa, Ed and their Divorce. This is the second non-political example of Needs-Based Problem-Solving. In this example, a Alyssa and Ed are in a conflict over the kids. Yes, they're getting a divorce. There are few conflicts that are more difficult than those between people who are used to love each other, and how are at each other's throats. However, even here -- perhaps especially here -- deep problems can be solved using Needs-Based Problem-Solving. It may be hard to interact with the person who you've come to hate, but you don't have to agree or like the other person in order to solve problems with them. For more on how to separate problems from positions, watch this video.

How to Bridge Divides: The Example of Alyssa and Ed

A Political Example: The Problem of Gun Violence The examples provided above all illustrate the process of Needs-Based Problem-Solving in non-political contexts. It is a good idea to get a sense of how the process happens outside of a political context before one begins to tackle more political issues. This article describes the Needs-Based Problem-Solving again, but this time as it relates to addressing the political issue of gun violence. Remember, these are simply illustrations of the process; there are many ways to resolve any single issue. And remember, many difficult and entrenched political issues require that we go beyond Needs-Based Problem-Solving to a process that we call Dialectical Problem-Solving. But that's for later.