This guy works with Joseph Jaworski, who established the American Leadership Forum and is author of "Synchronicity:the inner path of leadership", one of my "top 10" books.
Kahane describes how he worked with major Governments and leaders to attempt to resolve some of the toughest conflicts in the world: South Africa, Paraguay, Basques, Guatemala, Columbia and Argentina. I was interested to read about his relative failure in some places (notably with the Basques) and success in others (notably South Africa and Argentina).
He describes problems being tough because they are complex across three dimensions: dynamic complexity, generative complexity and social complexity.
Dynamic complexity arises if the cause and effect are far apart in terms of space and time. Generative complexity is high when the future is unfamiliar and unpredictable. Social complexity is high when those involved do not share the same assumptions, values, rationales and objectives.
He concludes that two components are required to make progress: the ability to talk and the ability to listen.
In his experience of trying to resolve some of the fundamental issues in Canada, for example, he found that the parties weren't really talking - just being polite with each other and not opening up. In the case of the Basques, they weren't truly listening and empathising with each other.
However, in Argentina, not only were they talking - but they were also truly listening: and in the aftermath of the country's collapse in 2001, remarkable progress was made (in the reform of the judiciary) through the dialogue that he initiated.
However, his definition of talking and listening goes beyond what we may think of. He describes 4 different ways of talking and listening:
The first way is "downloading": saying what we always say and not listening at all.
The second way of listening is debating: listening fairly and objectively.
The third way is talking and listening with empathy, subjectively, from the heart: reflective dialogue.
The fourth way, is "generative dialogue", wherein there is a "communion" between those involved to truly understand that they are radically connected.
Some very useful learning, in my opinion.