NAME OF ARCHETYPE: ESCALATION
|Each party sees the other’s actions as a threat and responds in a way that
threatens the other.
This archetype tend to trigger when two or more persons come together and
each perceives one’s “survival” as depending on one’s position (or success)
relative to the other. Anytime this position is “upset” (i.e. the other marks his
position as higher than one's), I react. I can choose to take one of two
actions; to take flight (which often may not be viable) or to fight. The latter is
the more appropriate thing to do otherwise we risk “losing face”. Therefore
we take actions that leads us to create results such that allows our positions
to even or better the other. However, the other now perceives your position
as a threat and enters into a similar cycle of actions so as to better his
position. This leads to ....
Follow the arrows and you would see an infinity sign appear. Once this
archetype starts it never quite ends (continues to perpetuate even after the
originators have long gone) and has a tendency to “suck in” everyone and/or
everything around them into the cycle.
used words or
|There is no end in sight!
||The “Joo Chiat” neighbours, TROY, Wars, ongoing war against terrorism
A dirties B's car and B feels threatened
B shines spotlight into A's bedroom to extract revenge for his inconvenience
A retaliates with stronger tactics to reclaim a stronger position over B
This degenerates into an unending cycle of tit-for-tat!
When we are "in it" we are the last persons to see "it" ourselves!
|Tips to note
|That the methods used to maintain stability (balancing) tend to breed
(reinforcing) even greater instability (esalation).
|What is the
|“We are under attack or being threatened and we need to take action to
One of the reasons we get caught in escalation dynamics may stem from our
view of competition.
To break an escalation structure ask the following questions:
What is the relative measure (price, quality, etc.) that pits one party against the
other, and can you change it?
What are the significant delays in the system that may distort the true nature of
the threat? Quantify them.
What are the deep-rooted assumptions that lie beneath the actions taken in
response to the threat?
Name the key players caught in the dynamic
Map what is being threatened. Are your (organisation’s) actions addressing the
real threat or simply serving preserving values that may no longer be relevant?
Identify a larger goal encompassing both parties’ goals.
Avoid future “Escalation” traps by creating a system of collaborative competition.
What it looks like if the system was working well:
“There is always a way for us to work this out together”
We work together and communicate openly for our collective success.