From Jason Fried’s article in Inc some interesting suggestions on dealing with “conflict” or more generally situations where people can’t agree.
Consider trading the decision. If it’s relatively small, consider saying “Ok you win this time, but I’ll take the next decision.”
Determine who wants it more. Let the person with greater passion behind their view take the decision. This is the difference between counting votes and weighing them.
Clearly, for larger decisions these tactics risk worsening the outcome, but for smaller issues, these aren’t bad approaches to finding consensus quickly.
I just finished Rework, written by Jason Fried of the Chicago based software company 37 Signals. It took just over an hour to read, it shares concepts in a rapid fire fashion rather than using meatier chapters. It promises to offer new and innovative thinking, which is true to some extent. Ideas on process, planning, meetings and estimation aren’t completely new, but the writing is fresh and provocative. It’s not a book about project management, it’s a book about running a small business, but a lot of the ideas are generalizable to projects. Some of the writing on strategy is naive, for example the fact that famous chefs publish their recipes is taken as evidence that businesses should be more transparent in sharing their processes with customers, whilst that might be true for some industries, it’s not true for all. Generally this is an inisghtful and well written book, particularly if you own or want to own a small business. It is also remarkably short.