Approximate Read Time: ~5 minutes
Controversy is inevitable whenever change is happening.
Whether it is change in an organization, a community, or even a whole society. Some would argue that whether the change is positive or negative is a matter of personal perspective. Others would try to evaluate change according to more objective measures. Positive or negative, personal perspectives or objective measures – controversy will happen because people will not see the change in the same way.
because controversy will happen, it means we need to be prepared.
We can be prepared, and need to be prepared, to address controversies when they arise in our communities and organizations. Whether the issues are gun control, community violence, gender affirming care, LGBTQ rights, parental rights, critical race theory, library books, sex ed, social emotional learning, vaccinations, or any of the other potential Culture War issues lurking around the corner, it is better to be prepared to manage controversy so that it doesn’t erupt into full-blown conflict.
For this reason, we offered Preparing for Controversy in the Fog of (Culture) War as a live seminar in April 2023 and, today, we are now offering that seminar as a free video. The seminar and video are based on the research and work of Tom Klaus, our Founding Partner. In the early 1990s Tom found himself unexpectedly in the middle of the Culture War when he moved from his first career in religious work into the field of teen pregnancy prevention and sexuality education. He was verbally attacked in public and in the media, stalked, threatened, and even physically accosted on one occasion. As traumatic as some of this was, he was compelled to learn more about the Culture War and the controversies it creates in communities and organizations.
In 2009 he had the opportunity to begin a formal study of the intractable nature of the Culture War and how it impacts leaders of those organizations in the midst of it. The result was his 2013 doctoral dissertation, Leadership in the Intractable Conflict Over Public School Sexuality Education in the United States. At the time it was completed, the Culture War over sexuality education had moved back to the latent conflict stage and the need for the research seemed less critical.
Fast forward to 2023
Once again, the Culture War is raging, but not just over sexuality education. Now it includes all those other things…and more…that we listed previously in this blog. Each is its own front in the Culture War today.
Preparing for Controversy in the Fog of (Culture) War does not hold all the answers but it has some that will be helpful. It will help you understand:
- the difference between a controversy and a conflict
- the stages of conflict
- the cycle of intractable conflict
- the value and importance of Strategic Controversy Management
- when to intervene so that a controversy does not become a conflict and
- how to slow or stop a controversy, even a conflict, when it occurs
Ninety-one percent (91%) of people completing the evaluation after the April 2023 seminar told us they felt more confident in their ability to manage controversy as a result of participating in the seminar. Specifically, here’s what they told us how they benefitted most from the seminar:
- Five big steps in controversy management.
- The rules of civil conversation.
- Understanding how controversy and conflict are different now from the 90’s and understanding where and how conflict can be deterred.
- Learning about when more people are likely to “get on-board” with your issue. This helped me think about where my energy and efforts can be used more effectively.
- Tom’s historical observations about the Culture War and how things have changed…or not changed.
- The cycle of intractable conflict.
Preparing for Controversy in the Fog of (Culture) War is now playing on the Tenacious Change website. It, as well as downloadable PDF resources, are available at no cost, though you will be asked to sign a guest book before accessing the video and downloads.
Click on the link below to see a brief trailer and then access the full video and all resources.