Last week, I posted on the issue of conflict and friction as a way of developing and improving ideas. (If you didn’t read the post, check it out here.)
In the post, I asked you to think about how conflict has featured in your life and business. For most of us, conflict has been an important part of our lives. In some cases, conflict has resulted in seemingly negative consequences which only in the long term have turned out to be positive. (If you’ve ever worked for someone else you didn’t get on with, you’ll know exactly what I mean).
But let’s leave the philosophy behind and get practical…
This is crux: a little bit of conflict could do wonders for your bottom line. Avoiding conflict can have an opposite effect.
“Yes”-ing through an idea may make you feel immediately wonderful and give you a a nice warm ego boost.
But ego-fuelling compliments don’t equate to cash.
Search out alternate points of view and keep this in mind: choose who you go to.
For a start, don’t listen to advice from people who aren’t successful in their own way. Find people who disagree with you, yet whom you respect, despite those differences.
There’s good form for this way of working. In Martha Kearney’s book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, she details Lincoln’s approach in bringing together a team of contrarian thinkers into his cabinet. He realised that formulating policy shouldn’t be a greased slide; it needed to be pounded, kneaded, turned-over and masticated fully before finally being spat out. And because of that process, you produced better policies. The result: a great president and world-changing policies.
I’m not advocating trying to start fights for no reason (like that fantastic scene in Fight Club where operatives of Project Mayhem try starting fights with anyone they can – and fail. People generally don’t want to fight).
Negativity, bickering and general moaning can bring down a team and be counter-productive. It isn’t what I’m advocating.
I’m talking about straight-down-the-line, no-punches-pulled devils-advocate conflict.
Here’s how to do it.
Change your language. When you have an idea or a business plan you want to discuss, don’t ask ‘what do you think of this?’ or ‘do you like this?’. Instead ask ‘what’s wrong with this?’, ‘what’s missing?’ or ‘what don’t you like about this?’.
Sure, it may give you a bit of bruised ego and you may not like what you hear. Remember, money doesn’t listen to emotion. Money follows good ideas and a healthy lashing of severe criticism and a bit of a beating could knock a good idea into a killer one.
Get properly stuck in. You want the person you’re asking to tear it to pieces, rip it up and give it a going over. Put it through that mangler and see whether the germ of it survives. If it does, then you’re onto something.
Don’t get me wrong. If you have a great idea that you’re passionate about it, go for it. Don’t let anyone dissuade you. Say nay to the naysayers.
But if you want truly great products, services or implemented ideas, a good start is to put it through it paces. Stick it in the ring, let it go a few rounds with some strong criticism. If it goes down in the first, re-think. If it’s hanging in in the 10th, it’s a goer.
And my goodness, will it be stronger for it.
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