Yes, indeed, most of us dread conflict as much as a dental visit or a speech in front of a room full of hecklers. And yet, conflict brings advantages – especially to businesses that really want to out-innovate their peers.
I recall a dinner on The Bosphorus in Istanbul where I chatted with an uberSuccessful entrepreneur. He enthusiastically shared his ideas on business-building, picking A Players (the bigger the dream, the more key the team) and delivering value to customers. And then he said something unforgettable: he revealed that his company hired a young man fresh out of business school with the sole job to passionately challenge every one of the great ideas the executive team came up with.
Loved it. Why? Because the beginning of the end of a great business (and life) is “the falling in love with your own most closely cherished ideas”. Yes, you have to believe in your vision when no one else will. Agreed. But – at the same time – following the same business model or way of working just because that’s the way you’ve always done it, is the way to inevitable obsolescence. This leader was incredibly smart: his company built a protocol to generate healthy conflict / to challenge their favored assumptions and to ensure that only the best ideas won.
Maybe it’s better to be surrounded by “No People” versus “Yes Men”? Please share your comments below – I’d love to get a conversation going on this point.