Why Conflict Can Be a Good Thing

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at andy.jordan@roffensian.com. Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

If there is one area of leadership no one enjoys, it’s dealing with conflict. We all know that avoiding issues is only going to make things worse, but the path of least resistance is so tempting when there doesn’t seem any way of dealing with it head on without some form of confrontation.

There are any number of different sources for how to manage conflict effectively, and it’s something that any new PM leadership training will address, so I’m not going to regurgitate all that stuff here. Instead, I want to look at how conflict can actually be a positive aspect for projects. That doesn’t give you an excuse not to deal with it, but it may give you a slightly different perspective.

The right kind of conflict
One of the great values of having a team of people working together is the ability to create synergy. Put simply, that’s the ability of a team to achieve more collectively than they could as individuals. For that to happen, there needs to be true teamwork and collaboration generating better ideas and solutions than any of the people involved could produce on their own.

The mechanics of this process are not difficult: One person comes up with an idea, it’s discussed and debated by the group, and as a result of that it is improved, combined with other ideas, etc. to produce a better outcome.

This entire process relies on …

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