Is It A Territorial Dispute?

An acquaintance asked me to look at a business case he was building for his community recently.

His goal was to win over two colleagues who had been against the community since its launch two years before.

The business case was compelling, the facts were on his side, and it was fairly clear the community was delivering great results (especially given the relatively low spending outlay).

But it didn’t take much digging to realise this wasn’t going to win them over. The problem wasn’t that the two colleagues didn’t believe the community helped the organisation. The problem was they saw the community as a threat to their own status and standing within the organisation.

Put simply, the community trod quite significantly on their turf but they didn’t have authority over it. A strong business case doesn’t resolve a territorial dispute.

Territorial disputes require persuading, not convincing (see the difference here). Persuasion is about emotions, convincing is about facts.

You can resolve a territorial dispute in two ways.

First; brute force. Go to the person above them and force them to comply. This isn’t ideal for obvious reasons.

Second, set up meetings with the detractors and simply try to listen. Understand and appreciate their concerns. Don’t try to convince them of anything. Try to gather their input in what they want to see in the community and let them come up with ideas for how it might help them. Connect them with peers at their level who have communities.

It might not solve the problem entirely, but it will certainly help to know what the real issue is.

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