A Bare Bones Introduction to Strategy

In conflict resolution good strategy helps one avoid unnecessary conflicts and protects relationships from unnecessary damage. Strategy is a tool. A tool that will help you, once you have determined your intent, plan the path you will take to turn that intent into reality. Strategy is fluid; you can change it when there is a change in the environment. Strategy is simple.

You would never know how simple strategy can be if you take a look at the available books on strategy in your local library or bookstore. Strategy can be complicated if the environment your are operating in is complex. It can also get complicated if you make it that way.

Strategy, boiled down to its basics, is simply having a plan. In complex environments, you add contingencies where you predict things could go wrong. In a complex operating environment there are many point of failure, hence the need for complicated contingency planning.

If you operate in a complex environment, then this post will do little to help you; if you are confused or intimidated by the idea of strategy this post may prove useful. Simply put, a strategy is a plan. I have broken it down into 3 simple parts: purpose, planning, and progress. Here is an outline:


  • What are you doing?
  • Why are you doing it?


  • Who?
  • What?
  • Where?
  • When?
  • What if?


  • Successes
  • Failures
  • Conflicts
  • Changes

The purpose is your intent; that is, your imagined solution to the problem you face after you have successfully done everything that you intended. The planning part is a laying out of the things you intend to do, taking into account the people, places, processes, and things that will facilitate or frustrate your actions. The progress part is your evaluation of the success or failure of your actions, taking into account that unforeseen conflicts you have encountered. It is here where you make tweaks to your plans to ensure future success.

The process of creating a strategy, or more simply, coming up with a plan, is useful in many endeavors. In negotiation having a BATNA, MLATNA, or bottom line is a strategy. In negotiation using deceptive tactics or guarding against deceptive tactics are strategies. Nonviolence is a strategy in conflict resolution and conflict transformation.

Most of us do some form of this process in our daily life. It consist of having an intent, taking action to achieve that intent, and intermittently taking stock of our progress and making changes when necessary. Strategy is crucial for successfully reacting, that is, making controlled and consider response to conflict.



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