Healthy conflict

Years ago we were sitting in a conference room that held 10 of us. Everyone in the room was a direct report and we were supposed to be talking about the next version of our flagship product.

The problem was that no one wanted to debate. It was a room completely filled with faithful and loyal staff who would go anywhere I asked, and do anything I thought of.

But I wanted debate – the back and forth that comes from intellectually jousting. I knew my suggestion had flaws. What I needed was someone to expose them.

Thankfully, one of the folks in the room was my younger brother. And thankfully, we’d had a discussion on the ride to work. “I need us to fight in public today,” wad all I had to say.

My brother had no trouble telling all of us why my suggestion was nice and all, but not practical. This got several people talking.

We ended the day with a better idea than we started with. With more engagement and ownership than before. All because of healthy conflict.

So let me ask you this. Have you set up what you need, so that there is healthy conflict going on in your meetings?