This model provides a guide for understanding conflict in a way that allows members of the system to define their own healthy and productive interventions. By building adaptive capacity in the system, this model enables individuals and groups at all scales to assess and understand their conflicts, identify solutions, and work to generate and sustain new patterns of behavior and thought.
First it is critical to understand the assumptions that HSD makes about conflict and peace in a complex adaptive system.
- Conflict is about the constraints in the system. While there is no universal level of constraint that is required of all systems, each system must find the appropriate level of constraint that allows the greatest fit in the greater environment. The level of constraint has to be such that there is enough constraint to allow for underlying public goods, such as healthcare, justice, government, education, and market and fiscal balance, even as there is not so much constraint that it prevents rapid and effective adaptation and response to change.
- Conflict emerges in a system that is over-constrained. When one individual is too jealous and controlling in a personal relationship, there will be conflict. When one group or community tries to over control or suppress or manipulate another group or community, there will be conflict. When one nation state tries to dominate another, there will be conflict. When one individual or political group tries to over-constrain the activities or control over the people they govern, there will be conflict.
- Conflict emerges in a system that is under-constrained. When there are not enough limits or expectations (constraints) in the system, there is not enough agreement about ownership or governance or acceptable behaviors to allow the system to support its individual agents or to allow for adaptation. When the system has gone to the random zone in the Landscape Diagram, conflict emerges as competing segments attempt to establish unilaterally functional constraints across the greater whole.
- Conflict resolution is not magic; nor it is so predictable that there is one universal recipe. Conflict resolution occurs when the underlying dynamics of the system begin to shift such that the constraints begin to shift toward fitness with the greater whole. Agents in the system take intentional and shared action to reduce constraints that are too tight, increase constraints appropriately to support sustainable adaptation and self-organization, and the patterns of decision making and interaction begin to shift such that the agents in the system can co-evolve. In HSD when we see this shift in patterns toward greater fitness and away from conflict, we call that transformation.
*The transformation away from conflict in a system is sustainable only when individual agents within the system understand these principles and are constantly vigilant to maintain constraints that allow for greatest adaptation and self-organization for all individuals and groups within that system. That is why we believe that peace or conflict resolution has to be a part of the fiber of a system. While external consultants or peacemakers may help by educating and/or coaching along the way, sustaining the balance of constraint in a system must come from the agents of that system, itself.
- We define peace as the absence of conflict—the state of system-wide dynamics that allows the whole to engage in adaptation and self-organization that maintains greatest fit among the agents themselves and between that system and its greater environment.
It is from these assumptions that we have mapped out the Peace Pentagon model. Thanks go to Lois Yellowthunder and Vic Ward for their collaboration with us to develop the concepts represented here.
- Assessment – People in the system observe their environments to collect data about the patterns of conflict, as well as those generated as the conflict is played out in the system. People learn to observe patterns in the public discourse about the conflict, about the role individuals and groups play in contributing to either the conflict or its resolution, about where the conflict manifests and where it does not. They watch patterns in multiple realms—fiscal, social, religious, educational, in the media, in the military, and in the government. They become astute observers of the patterns that swirl around the landscapes that make up their lives.
- Analysis – The data is analyzed and becomes information that creates a true picture of the conflict. Using different models and methods, such as the CDE, landscape diagram, decision map, and simple rules, people make sense from the patterns they have identified. They explore what the patterns mean about the past and current situations, as well as how those patterns change over time and space. They draw conclusions about what might have generated the patterns and how they might intervene to change those patterns.
- Engagement – Individuals in the system are engaged in identifying specific ways to intervene in the conflict by negotiating across the differences that lie at its heart. While the name of this step may seem a bit misleading, implying that this is the first time individuals are “engaged” by the some subset of leaders or "peacemakers, what it really means is that this signifies the critical nature of how the engagements take place to intervene in influencing the systemic patterns of conflict. Methods and models like generative engagement, and simple rules describe positive ways to agree about engagements across the multiple differences in the system.
- Transformation – The system responds to the interventions and begins to shift as individuals inside begin to co-evolve and move to a new level of relationship. It is in this phase of change that people begin to see changes in the patterns of behavior, interaction, and decision making that signal changes in the dynamics of the system. Transformation is not magic—it is the change of patterns that emerge as a result of efforts in the system itself to change the conditions that generated the conflict in the system.
- Sustainability – Agreements and relationships emerge that will continue to negotiate the differences in more peaceful and productive ways over time. Agents in the system recognize their ability and responsibility to build networks and relationships that support the patterns represented in the Sustainabiity model.