Dispute resolution systems design is a new concept in the field of higher education. The main aim of this concept is to make sure an organization is equipped with proper systems that are required for reducing or fully alleviating the negative results of conflict. Irrespective of whether one acknowledges the fact or not, disputes that are left unresolved, can have a detrimental impact on the human and financial resources of a campus. When people don’t get along with each other, any idea or project will eventually get stalled. According to the Harvard Program on Negotiation, dispute resolution systems design can identify, design, employ and evaluate constructive steps to resolve conflicts that are hampering the proper functioning of an organization. Here are the steps to do it.
Step 1: Identify the Re-Occurring Conflicts on Campus
Identify the re-occurring conflicts on the campus and try to figure out the reason – the place they occur and between whom they occur. If you are facing a tough time, you have to identify who has been having a conflict with whom and find out the topic of the argument. After you are done with that, make a new list while you brainstorm about the topics on which people can have arguments in the future. If you can’t find the answers, you can discuss them with a group of people. While the themes of conflicts are more or less similar in almost all the departments, every campus also has its conflicts on specific issues. If you want to name the re-occurring conflicts on your campus, it will be almost like you are making weather forecasts. You might not hit the bull’s eye, but you will be somewhat close.
Step 2: Enlist the Options, Processes, and Resources
Make a complete list of the options, processes, and resources that are present. Find out whether there are civility agreements or statements between the student governance groups and faculty governance groups. Also look into whether the options to address and resolve conflict are described in the student and employee handbooks. Find out what people would prefer to do if they get involved in a dispute and whom they would resort to during a dispute. Also, try to know if mediation, negotiation, conciliation, etc. have been included in any course or training.
Step 3: Start Designing Systems
Create an interdisciplinary or an interdivisional group and give it the responsibility of working like architects of dispute resolution design. Ask them to make a blueprint for building, implementing, and improving the options, processes, and resources to resolve disputes on your campus. The blueprint should be made for both formal and informal disputes.
If the interdisciplinary or interdivisional group is having problems, you can look out for external assistance. Organizations at both the local and national levels, as well as the state affiliates, have sections mentioning the ways to resolve disputes occurring on campus. You can refer to Mediate.com for help.
Step 4: Implementation and Evaluation
The fourth step of implementation and evaluation is where there is a culmination of the architectural analogy. Perfect designs plans are not mandatory if you want to initiate construction. Choose an idea that is of great value, but not hard to implement. After evaluation, you can get hold of important information. You can use the information to adjust the design you have created.
Conflicts Should be Prevented in Time
It’s the job of an architect to design buildings. The buildings are constructed in a way so that they can withstand the storms and rough weather. Similarly, while designing the dispute resolution systems, higher education professionals should take into account every type of conflict that tends to occur time and again on campuses and take steps to prevent them.
Conflicts should not be unexpected. They should be measured beforehand so that they can be avoided in time. For any enterprise, assessment and management of any kind of risk should be of utmost priority. Forecasting and preparing for any conflict is the key. Waiting and hoping that things will be resolved on their own is not preferable. In any resolution of the dispute, the people in an organization should come forward.
If the dispute resolution systems are designed properly, the community members will get a lot of help towards constructively resolving a conflict.