Collaborating with the enemy : how to work with people you don't agree with or like or trust / Adam Kahane ; drawings by Jeff Barnum.

Main Author: Kahane, Adam,
Published: Oakland, CA : Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., [2017]
Edition: First edition.
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As our societies have become more complex and globalized and our organizations flatter and less hierarchical, more of us need to collaborate across more organizations, geographies, and cultures than ever before. But this increases the chances that we're going to get stuck having to collaborate with people we don't agree with or like or trust. But we've got no choice. We have to learn to work with people we might actually have come to think of as "the enemy."

International consultant Adam Kahane, who has worked in some very fraught contexts in his career (South Africa after apartheid, Guatemala after a civil war), has found that in these low-control, high-conflict situations, everything we think we know about what makes collaboration work is wrong. The neat black-and-white thinking that underlies conventional collaboration--us/them, harmony/conflict, problem/solution--won't work. You need to be more flexible, accept a level of uncertainty and improvisation, and practice what Kahane calls "stretch collaboration." In this very timely book he takes on five misunderstandings that keep us from effectively collaborating with "those people" and tells us what we should do instead.

Table of Contents


p. ix

Peter Block


p. xvii

Introduction: How to Work with People: You Don't Agree with or Like or Trust

p. 1

1Collaboration is Becoming More: Necessary and More Difficult

p. 5

"I could never work with those people!"

p. 5

The enemyfying syndrome

p. 7

The central challenge of collaboration

p. 9

2Collaboration is Not the Only Option

p. 11

The way forward is unclear

p. 12

"The miraculous option is that we work things through together"

p. 12

There are three alternatives to collaboration

p. 15

Collaboration must be a choice

p. 18

3Conventional, Constricted Collaboration Is Becoming Obsolete

p. 25

Constriction prevents movement

p. 25

Change management assumes control

p. 26

"There is only one right answer"

p. 29

The limitations of conventional collaboration

p. 31

4Unconventional, Stretch Collaboration is Becoming Essential

p. 39

Stretching creates flexibility and discomfort

p. 39

How to end a civil war

p. 41

Stretch collaboration abandons the illusion of control

p. 46

5The First Stretch Is To Embrace: Conflict and Connection

p. 49

Dialogue is not enough

p. 49

There is more than one whole

p. 55

Every holon has two drives

p. 59

Alternate power and love

p. 61

6The Second Stretch is to Experiment: A Way Forward

p. 69

We cannot control the future, but we can influence it

p. 69

We are crossing the river by feeling for stones

p. 75

Creativity requires negative capability

p. 80

Listen for possibility rather than for certainty

p. 82

7The Third Stretch is to Step into the Game

p. 89

"They need to change!"

p. 90

If you're not part of the problem, you can't be part of the solution

p. 93

Be a pig rather than a chicken

p. 96

Conclusion: How to Learn to Stretch

p. 99


p. 109


p. 115


p. 118

About the Author

p. 126

About Reos Partners

p. 128

A Note from the Artist, Jeff Barnum

p. 130