What to do?

What you could consider when faced with a complex problem

Sometimes a crisis arrives without warning. A sudden event occurs – like lightning starting a fire in the forest. At other times one can see it coming – the way you smell smoke and know that there is a hotspot smouldering somewhere and that needs to be taken care of to avoid a fire. The Dialogue Triage can give you a hint as to what you are faced with, which risks you face and what you could do right away to prevent the problem escalating.

Conflicts arise and escalate because parts of society are marginalised: when individuals or groups are ignored, actively excluded or when voices are silenced. Any action that furthers this marginalisation will most likely make the problem worse. If short term repressive action causes it to quieten down, it is likely to surface again: only this time with more intensity and in a way that is much harder to resolve.

In the same way, complex problems will not go away if the surface issues are “fixed”. The deeper underlying issues will remain and new problems will rise to the surface.

For these reasons, it is of great importance for an authority that faces social problems takes care to act in a way that will alleviate pressure. “First aid” applied without an understanding of the risks involved, can have adverse effects, sometimes of a very severe nature.