The Feud

AntiPattern Problem

Also known as Dueling Corncobs, Territorial Managers, and Turf Wars, the Feud is marked by personality conflicts between managers that can dramatically affect the work environment.

The employees reporting to these managers often suffer the consequences of their disagreements, because animosity between managers is generally reflected in the attitudes and actions of their employees, which always become negative.

Consequently, software developers suffer from a lack of productive communications, and a general lack of cooperation inhibits any form of useful technology transfer. Thereafter, the corporate productivity and image can be negatively impacted.

When the conflict erupts into ballistic verbal exchanges, verbal assassinations are carried out against staff to senior management. Such behavior can engage entire corporate management organizations, wasting time and energy. E-mail confrontations can greatly exacerbate the conflict (see the E-mail Is Dangerous mini-AntiPattern). Management feuds can drag on for years, with chronic recurrences of open hostilities, if not addressed promptly.

Refactored Solution

Dr. Randall Oakes, veteran of many information technology migrations, has said that "there is no problem that a pizza party cannot solve" He means that organizational problems can often be resolved during a friendly office gathering.

We have used the pizza party technique on several occasions with positive outcomes. These events are also useful as icebreakers to encourage team building, to facilitate formation of friendships, and to foster cross-organizational communications.

A pizza party may have the most benefits for the financial sponsor. Following a pizza party, coworkers may perceive this person in a new light: "He or she is not such an ogre after all; he or she bought us pizza, and we had a good time." Pizza party sponsors can thus reform their image.


A corporate intervention is a technique for resolving organizational differences. Professional meeting facilitators and various psychologists practice these techniques Using electronic meeting tools, a two-day off-site intervention can achieve significant results.

These meetings help organizations to "reinvent the corporation" by using the off-site group's creativity to resolve their differences. The meeting facilitates intransigent managers to communicate and form new relationships. Participants generate innovative solutions to problems once thought to be intractable.