Unsolvable Conflict on Agile Teams

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deference to the vision or in changing the vision. In either case, having a shared vision lets the team see that unsolvable conflict is normal and can be navigated as long as they use the vision as their beacon.

Neither one of these techniques are magical solutions. Avoiding misunderstanding through consent and consensus checks and having a vision statement don't address unsolvable conflict by themselves. It's what you do with them that matters. The "magic" happens when a consensus check or a vision statement on the wall prompt a conversation that allows the team to put the conflict in context and see that it is a small part of what they are together.


[1] From John Gottman's training course, Marital Therapy: A Research-Based Approach.

[2] Organization and Relationship Systems Coaching (ORSC), a curriculum offered by the Center for Right Relationship, teaches coaches to apply John Gottman's findings in marital research to coaching teams and other groups.

[3] Jean Tabaka as adapted from Janet Danforth, Collaboration Explained, Addison-Wesley: 2006: page 80.

[4] The Organization and Relationship Systems Coaching coursework teaches an activity to deal with perpetual problems called "The Dream behind the Conflict." It is adapted from John Gottman and Nan Silver, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work , Orion: 2004.

[5] Laura Whitworth, Karen Kimsey-House, Henry Kimsey-House, and Phillip Sandahl, Co-Active Coaching: New Skills for Coaching People Toward Success in Work and Life , Davies-Black Publishing: 2007: page 130. 

About the author

Lyssa Adkins's picture Lyssa Adkins

Since 2004 Lyssa Adkins has taught Scrum to hundreds of students, coached many agile teams, and served as master coach to many apprentice coaches. In both one-on-one settings and small groups, she enjoys a front-row seat as remarkable agile coaches emerge and go on to entice the very best from the teams they help. Prior to agile, Lyssa had more than fifteen years of expertise leading project teams and groups of project managers, yet nothing prepared her for the power of agile done simply and well. Lyssa authored Coaching Agile Teams: A Companion for ScrumMasters, Agile Coaches, and Project Managers in Transition.

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