If Your Team Agrees on Everything, Working Together Is Pointless
“You’ve probably been taught to see collaboration and conflict as opposites. In some cultures the language and imagery of teamwork is ridiculously idyllic: rowers in perfect sync, or planes flying in tight formation. As a team, you’re ‘all in the same boat.’ To be a good team player, you must ‘row in the same direction.’ These idealized versions of teamwork and collaboration are making many teams impotent.
There’s no point in collaboration without tension, disagreement, or conflict. What we need is collaboration where tension, disagreement, and conflict improve the value of the ideas, expose the risks inherent in the plan, and lead to enhanced trust among the participants.
It’s time to change your mindset about conflict. Let go of the idea that all conflict is destructive, and embrace the idea that productive conflict creates value. If you think beyond the trite clichés, it’s obvious: Collaborating is unnecessary if you agree on everything. Building on one another’s ideas only gets you incremental thinking. If you avoid disagreeing, you leave faulty assumptions unexposed. As Walter Lippmann said, ‘Where all think alike, no one thinks very much.’ To maximize the benefit of collaborating, you need to diverge before you converge.”