Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Solving Tough Problems: An Open Way of Talking, Listening, and Creating New Realities” as Want to Read:
Solving Tough Problems: An Open Way of Talking, Listening, and Creating New Realities
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Solving Tough Problems: An Open Way of Talking, Listening, and Creating New Realities

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  252 ratings  ·  22 reviews
Adam Kahane spent years working in the world's hotspots, and came away with a new understanding of how to resolve conflict in a way that seems reasonable - and doable - to all parties. The result is Solving Tough Problems. Written in a relaxed, persuasive style, this is not a "how-to" book with glib answers, but rather, a very personal story of the author's progress from a ...more
Hardcover, 149 pages
Published September 9th 2004 by Berrett-Koehler Publishers (first published August 2004)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Solving Tough Problems, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Solving Tough Problems

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.98  · 
Rating details
 ·  252 ratings  ·  22 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Solving Tough Problems: An Open Way of Talking, Listening, and Creating New Realities
Sep 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Quick read, valuable framing for community problem solving.
Apr 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
Our thinking is built from assumed oppositions: emotional vs rational, personal vs professional, individual vs corporate. I've been chewing up a lot of books talking about building business that other people can run, and their model is the restaurant industry: minimum wage employees have to deliver consistent and excellent experiences for customers. Consequently the view of business is very impersonal: the people are interchangeable units and the business is the enduring structure built around t ...more
Nov 09, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book was disappointing. Basically the whole thing was "talk and listen." Nice sentiment, but I was hoping for techniques. Even the stories did not give techniques. They were basically, "Someone said something really profound and we were all changed." That was nice and all, but how did you balance the structure needed to move forward and the openness needed to be innovative? There is slight reference to some Art of Hosting concepts, but it is basically all hidden and only there for people fa ...more
Adam Shand
Feb 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: facilitation
Adam Kahane's Transformative Scenario Planning arrived in my letterbox as a surprise present from my friend Mel. Like several other books I've read recently, it was exactly the right book at exactly the right time. Adam's descriptions and methodology for approaching "stuck" problems struck a deep chord in me. Anyone who has talked to me in the last couple of months is probably well sick of hearing me talk about it.

Where "Transformative Scenario Planning" is more of a how to manual, "Solving Toug
Jul 12, 2019 is currently reading it
Stand out quote:

"Simple problems, with low complexity, can be solved perfectly well—efficiently and effectively—using processes that are piecemeal, backward looking, and authoritarian. By contrast, highly complex problems can only be solved using processes that are systemic, emergent, and participatory."

This kind of thing is pablum when it is said flatly in a textbook, but it means much more when this author looked at his successes and failures and came to these conclusions when reviewing his ca
Oscar Duarte
Jan 12, 2020 rated it liked it
I was reminded on common advice on problem solving. Very tangible examples that the author has himself lived through.
Jerry Jennings
Kahane observes that, “Our most common way of thinking is telling: asserting that the truth about the way things are and must be, not allowing that there might be other truths and possibilities. Moreover, our most common way of listening is not listening: listening only to our own talking, not to others.”

He sees this as a problem when people face complex issues. Moreover, from my point of view, complex issues are very much the standard right now. So I read Kahane’s book with interest.

I found t
Fred Rose
Dec 23, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: problem-solving
Just ok. There isn't much here except: listen, talk, discuss. The author was involved with the first post-apartheid discussions in South Africa. Clearly these went well, which built his reputation for life. But what they did exactly is never defined other than scenario planning techniques from the business world. There are enough other examples given that didn't work that make it seem it really depends on the participants and not the facilitator at all. But the book is a short read and his point ...more
Mar 13, 2011 rated it it was ok
This book had some interesting anecdotes about conflict resolution, but it reinforced my preference for fiction. :)
Wiktor Dynarski
Apr 22, 2018 rated it liked it
I have very mixed feelings about this book. Like a few reviewers before me, I acquired it in order to see whether it provides strategies and exercises on how to change my approach to problem-solving. Instead, however, it turned out to be a heavily filtered memoir of the author and his involvement in helping different countries solve their political crises and transformations, especially in territories hurt by terrorism, civil war and authoritarian leaders.
And it wasn't necessarily bad that the b
Duc Hoang
Oct 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: problem-solving
The simplicity of Kahane's writing style is impressive, as is his ability to balance all the different issues in the book.

We might probably all been in the situation when we are trying to work through a challenging problem with a group of people we don't get along with. They've got an agenda, we've got an agenda, and it seems like the more we try to talk it out, the more people dig in their heels and refuse to budge.

Whilst the solution has to be found, no one is willing to give any single second
A concise and personal approach to highly complex problem-solving workshops. Kahane's approach provides a thoughtful and respectful philosophy towards collective planning and decision-making when top-down approaches fail.

In a nutshell: Fostering open communication and empathy between individuals unlocks the collective ability to overcome systemic failings of business, government and the civil sector.

This is a handy reference book for facilitators, community organizers, and anyone else who works
John Crippen
A slim volume with inspirational examples from many of the author's sessions in the 90s. Some scenario planning content, but his broader prescription included having the right people in the room, developing generative dialogue, and maintaining an open approach. Not a great stand-alone work, but the book does contain good supplemental material.
Jesse Kessler
Oct 13, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir-biography
While not necessarily a guide to solving tough problems, this easy to read book is filled with fascinating big league stories of high stakes community problem solving.
Mar 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
An essential read for diplomats, facilitators, organizational developers and social catalysts. Kahane is authoritative but never condescending. He relates his journey from physics and engineering to social facilitator for some very complex and interesting cross-cultural dialogues. Expounds the U-process, touches on T-learning. Otherwise very little jargon.
Daniel Brandt
Oct 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Um livro sobre união, diálogo e resolução de problemas sociais complexos que trabalha a partir do papel do indivíduo no grupo. Excelente leitura.

Para ler minhas notas vá para / To read my notes on this book go to:
Radhakrishnan Pb
Sep 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Author has organised his rich experiences in the field of solving tough problems. We are given insights to discover hope, possibilities, opportunities, and methodologies in the most difficult situations, irrespective of diversity of participants, their bitter enmities demonstrating that effective and correct communication can solve anything. Time to test the learnings in the real world!!
Jan 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book relates some experience that change my perspectives of how talk, lesson and mainly understanding that different people and different way of thinking are really relevant when you want to solve a complex problem throught the real cause of the question. I really recommend it.
Jan 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Offers fresh and creative examples of engaging conflict using Theory U dynamics. Practical and Anecdotal and very readable.
Mar 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Amazing! SA Leadership has a lot to offer. The importance of communication and the spiritual dimension.
James Davis
Oct 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: leadership
Kahane uses his experience in such diverse places as South Africa and Guatemala to explore conflict and ways to get beyond it. In this book he talks about the power of deep listening.
Mills College Library
303.69 K121 2007
rated it it was amazing
Jul 18, 2012
Philippe Dancause
rated it really liked it
Aug 18, 2011
Dawn Michelson
rated it really liked it
Jul 09, 2018
Col Duthie
rated it really liked it
Feb 25, 2014
Sarah Brooks
rated it really liked it
Jan 02, 2017
Gabe Sawhney
rated it really liked it
Feb 15, 2011
rated it really liked it
Sep 17, 2015
Kristin Schwab
rated it it was amazing
Jan 05, 2020
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • 30-Second Economics: The 50 Most Thought-Provoking Economic Theories, Each Explained In Half A Minute
  • My Side of the Mountain (Mountain, #1)
  • Andy & Me: Crisis and Transformation on the Lean Journey
  • NIV, The Chronological Study Bible, eBook
  • The Sea Wolf
  • Seven Floors
  • The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life
  • Leaders: Myth and Reality
  • The Carbon Bubble: What Happens to Us When It Bursts
  • Circling the Midnight Sun
  • The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia
  • Dinosaurs Before Dark (Magic Tree House, #1)
  • Forest of Wonders (Wing & Claw #1)
  • Aesop's Fables
  • Study Bible: NIV
  • The Tall Book of Make-Believe
  • Spartacus
  • The Cremation of Sam McGee
See similar books…
Adam is a leading organizer, designer and facilitator of processes through which business, government, and civil society leaders can work together to address such challenges. He has worked in more than fifty countries, in every part of the world, with executives and politicians, generals and guerrillas, civil servants and trade unionists, community activists and United Nations officials, clergy an ...more

News & Interviews

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
29 likes · 15 comments
“If we want to change the systems we are part of - our countries, communities, organizations, and families - we must also see and change ourselves” 10 likes
More quotes…