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Using conflict and dissent to create robust & resilient solutions

Julia Wester
February 24, 2020

Using conflict and dissent to create robust & resilient solutions

When we think through work we primarily focus on the happy path, this only gives us half the picture. When we take time to explore the dark side of work, we can anticipate many of the dangers lurking in wait. There are many ways to explore this dark side and coming out the other side stronger.

Julia Wester

February 24, 2020

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  1. “Where all think alike, no one thinks very much.” Walter

    Lippmann, "The Stakes of Diplomacy”, 1915 By Pirie MacDonald - Yale University Manuscripts & Archives Digital Images Database [1], Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10533340
  2. An expression of an opinion that is different than those

    commonly or officially held. Dissent Competitive or opposing action of incompatibles. Antagonistic state or action. Conflict
  3. Mode of thinking that happens when the desire for harmony

    overrides a realis6c appraisal of the alterna6ves. Irving Janis, Psychologist GROUP THINK
  4. “Groups often fail to outperform individuals because they prematurely move

    to consensus, with dissenting opinions being suppressed or dismissed.” Hackman, Morris (1975) Advances in Experimental Social Psychology Image credit: Jeff Patton
  5. X

  6. “Contrary to popular wisdom and behavior, conflict is not a

    bad thing for a team. In fact, fear of conflict is almost always a sign of problems.” Patrick Lencioni Author of “The Advantage”
  7. Agreement Disagreement - Winning argument > reaching goal - Lack

    of trust - Anger and resentment - Team members give up / opt out - “I told you so” mentality - Very little learning - Solutions not always best - Not safe to disagree - Lack of honesty - Contempt and cynicism - “I knew that would never work” mentality - Very little learning - Decisions get made - Everyone knows the final decision - Cohesion towards a goal - Excitement to move forward - You feel supported in your path - Safe to share differing viewpoint - Lots of learning - More confidence in choices - Growing skills in handling conflict - Ideas are better supported, regardless of outcome + - Let’s Explore the Polarities
  8. “…I was assigned to write the court’s opinion. The final

    draft, released to the public, was ever so much better than my first, second, and at least a dozen more drafts, thanks to Justice Scalia’s attention-grabbing dissent.” Hon. Ruth Bader Ginsburg The Role of Dissenting Opinions
  9. Minority dissent, even dissent that is wrong, stimulates divergent thought.

    Nemeth, Staw (1989) Advances in Experimental Social Psychology
  10. The Inclusion Framework Shore, Lynn M. et al. “Inclusion and

    Diversity in Work Groups: A Review and Model for Future Research.” (2011).
  11. Six Thinking Hats The Black Hat Play’s the Devil’s Advocate

    role: • What are the weaknesses? • What is wrong with this idea? Simulated Dissent
  12. Ritual Dissent Image courtesy: @FriendlyTester on Twitter Ritual Dissent is

    meant to simulate the process of delivering new ideas and to open up new thinking to necessary criticism and iterations
  13. Ritual Dissent Image courtesy: @FriendlyTester on Twitter 1. Prepare your

    idea 2. Present it to the group, who remains silent 3. Turn your back to group 4. Listen, stay silent, and take notes as group discusses your idea, pointing out pros, cons, possible risks, and remaining questions. Authen0c Dissent
  14. Can we make 
 it safer? What is the impact?

    How can you game it? How safe are our metrics? A team exercise Authen0c Dissent
  15. Making Space with TRIZ A Liberating Structure What must we

    stop doing to make progress on our deepest purpose? Image Courtesy of The Liberators: https://medium.com/the-liberators/make-space-for-innovation-with-triz-26a3ec162d41
  16. Pre-mortems Predict the multiple ways you can fail and then

    do something about it! Authen0c, Future
  17. Not all dissent is created equal Simulated dissent creates more

    ideas in support of the original position. Authentic dissent creates more original ideas on both sides of the debate.
  18. “…experimental studies suggest that 
 benefits disappear once the team

    is tasked with deciding which ideas to select and implement, presumably because diversity hinders consensus.” https://hbr.org/2017/06/does-diversity-actually-increase-creativity Cognitive diversity doesn’t fix every problem
  19. 1. Hire for diversity of thought (as one aspect). 2.

    Focus on crea7ng an inclusive environment. 3. Teach everyone, especially managers, conflict management skills and ac7ve listening. 4. Make construc7ve dissent an expecta7on of everyone, including yourself. 5. Reward desired behaviours. Tips for getting started
  20. “Silence - not dissent - is the one answer that

    leaders should refuse to accept. Warren G. Bennis Founding Chairman of The Leadership Institute at the University of Southern California.