A referee determines right and wrong on the field

When Referees Won’t Help

People often see conflict as something that requires a referee, someone who can reliably decide what’s right and what’s wrong. That may be true in sports. But, in other settings, picking winners and losers doesn’t serve the long term goal of cooperation for mutual benefit.

Cooperative Wisdom starts from the assumption that conflict arises because multiple parties are defending something that matters deeply to them. Motivated by proactive compassion, we need to discern what those values are. Only then can we devise sustainable solutions that take all relevant values into account.

These insights served us well in writing the book. As a philosopher, Don was invariably drawn to abstraction, finding common themes in drastically different circumstances. As a writer, Carolyn pressed for more specific examples and tried to ask the questions a smart reader would want answered.

This natural tension in our conversations created the potential for conflict, but we evaded it, using the five virtues we recommend in the book. Only by committing ourselves to long-term cooperation could we derive the benefits we’ve enjoyed from our interaction. Gradually we’ve become true collaborators, creating a book that neither of us could have written alone and that we believe is better for our cooperation.

We hope this blog will become a setting where readers will share their own stories of collaboration and cooperation. Please comment whenever you can.  And, if you would like to write a guest post, just contact us.

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