This paper aims to challenge reductionist mental models widely used to evaluate the effects of conflicts or disputes. These models are frequently used intuitively by people, or recommended in the dispute resolution literature in fields such as negotiation or mediation. It is argued that they harm people's ability to deal effectively with conflicts and learn from them. The authors propose an alternative systemic framework for evaluating the results of conflicts, which is illustrated by making reference to a severe conflict, the Colombian guerrilla war. This case serves to show the advantages of using the proposed framework instead of more traditional models. Copyright © 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.