October 31, 2007
Conflict Is Good (Within Reason)Conflict is good.
Okay, armed conflict where people throw rocks and spears and depleted uranium shells at each other is not so good.
But professional people having intellectual disagreements is all fine and dandy in my book. And they should have them in public so everybody can see that there is more than one point of view.
You see, when we all agree on everything, that's commonly referred to as groupthink. And you know how big a fan I am of maintaining the widest possible solution space - because it increases our odds of solving a problem with fixed time and resources.
Groupthink leads to a dramatically restricted solution space. It also stifles people's ability to think for themselves. Both of the factors tend to lead not to greater productivity but to a false sense of security. Things must be going well, because we all agree on everything.
But, y'know, you can fool all of the people all of the time.
So I say have it out. Disagree and be proud that you have at least two possible solutions to choose from, thus doubling your chances of solving the problem. Don't stifle or try to conceal constructive, robust debate. Don't feel the need to have "everybody singing from the same hymn sheet" or "aligned" or "facing in the same direction". For that way lies stagnation, and that leads to lack of innovation - which is the real productivity killer in our business (and many others).
Granted, debate can escalate into all out war - but that's often not actually debate. It's usually personal or cultural or territorial or has some other nefarious motivation hidden behind a veneer of intellectual or ideological disagreement. (Just like in real life, eh? I mean, you don't think people really go to war because they believe in different gods, do you?)
But genuine, honest debate between professionals who care passionately and are happy to adopt a rational, scientific approach - that's to be actively encouraged, I think.
Well? I'm waiting...
Posted 13 years, 1 month ago on October 31, 2007