IA Summit 12: Leadership Skills

Dan Brown gave a great talk on conflict entitled Leadership Skills: Managing Difficult Situations on Design Projects. The talk highlights the basis of his new card game Surviving Design Skills. 

In order to get from the problem to the solution multiple decisions need to be made. Those decisions are the how and the what and they create agreement and clarity.

There is unhealthy conflict, and healthy conflict. Healthy conflict is important in fostering creativity and encourages momentum while making decisions. Conflict is necessary to create a shared understanding.

The Conflict Resolution Model

The conflict resolution model Dan presents has three parts, each mutually impacting:

  • Situation – A scenario involving conflict between two or more people. Ex. Purpose, Plan, Performance
  • Patterns – Behaviors that enable people to resolve conflict. Ex. Empathize, Involve, Redirect, Reframe
  • Traits – Aspects of your personality that describe your preferences and style of working. Ex. Style, Agenda, Circumstances, Knowledge


  • How I perceive a situation.
  • Whether I aggravate a situation.
  • Whether I’m prone to create a situation.


  • Which patterns suit me best.
  • How I apply patterns.


  • How patterns address situations.
  • How situations benefit from patterns.

Using the Model

For each situation many patterns can be used to foster healthy conflict and create a shared understanding. To get better at understanding and applying the right patterns to situations Dan suggests his game Surviving Design Projects.