How Management Teams Can Have a Good Fight

by Eisenhardt, et al.

    • Constructive conflict in organizations is powerful, and can lead to more effective decision making
      • It creates richer range of options
    • The key is to have constructive conflict without it turning personal
    • How to successfully minimize interpersonal conflict (six tactics):
    1. Focus on facts – the more objective data you have to work with the better. Measure everything.
      1. i.e. “ “We over-MBA it”­—zealous pursuit of data
      2. companies in conflict rely on guesses and hunches instead of data
    2. Multiply the options – provide more options for discussion rather than less
      1. This makes choices less black and white and allows for a wider range of opinions
    3. Create common goals – align executive and employee incentives
    4. Use humor
    5. Balance power structure—autocratic leaders generate a high level of internal friction
      1. Make quick decisions involving as many people as possible
    6. Seek consensus with Qualification—find ways to resolve substantial conflicts
      1. Teams that force consensus have more disharmony
      2. Consensus means everyone has veto power
    • Where there is little conflict over issues, there is also likely poor decision making
      • Groupthink has caused many corporate and public policy debacles
    • Teams engaging in healthy conflict over issues have better decision making and move faster
    • The key to doing all of this properly is to limit interpersonal conflict
      • Don’t let arguments get personal

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