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Collaboration lesson from Dune - The agreement Tripod



Recently, as I was waiting for the new Dune movie to be released, I decided to revisit some of my favourite passages in the Dune book series by Frank Herbert.


While doing so, I came across these lines


“The three legs of the agreement-tripod are desire, data and doubt.”
“Desire brings the participants together. Data sets the limits of their dialogue. Doubt frames the questions.”
(God Emperor of Dune, p. 344)

I had to stop my reading and started to furiously scribble down notes and thoughts.


What struck a chord with me within these lines is that although these elements might not cover all the fundamental needs or techniques to reach an agreement, they underline Key elements that most often prevent an agreement from materialising.


The 3 Ds: Desire, Data and Doubt often represent the 3 biggest mistakes we tend to make and some important questions we need to ask ourselves when trying to reach an agreement.



1. DESIRE

Are we all really willing to modify the Status Quo?

Are we ready to do the necessary efforts to find and implement a better solution?



2. DATA

What information are we considering to make our decisions?

  • Is it valid or do we just prefer to believe it because it validates our biases and preconceived beliefs?

  • How can we build a common foundation of facts in order to make the most informed and aligned decision we can?


3. DOUBT

And this is one of the steps I have seen to be the most difficult for me and for others…

Are we ready to admit that we might be wrong?

  • Can we put our beliefs aside for a moment and try to consider the data and all perspectives more objectively?

  • Can we acknowledge that our ideas might not be perfect?

  • that there might be areas where we lack knowledge or perspective?

  • that despite our expertise and experience, there is always something to be learned from all perspectives and there is always room to grow and discover something new?


In my experience, this last step can be the most difficult one as it can sometimes challenge our self-confidence, challenge the story we tell ourselves and the image we built about ourselves.

It might also trigger fear or resistance to show ourselves vulnerable or wrong in front of others.


But as long as we don’t resolve ourselves to take that step, our disagreements with our peers, colleagues, friends or family will only create more separation instead of connection and will leave us in an unfulfilling limbo where each one of us is feeling that we are right while our working or personal relationships slowly crumble.