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Conflict Creates Innovation

Source |  |  BY:Jeff DeGraff, 

Conflict doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, conflict is the very force that will bring about the best outcome in almost any given innovation initiative. The only way to create unlikely yet groundbreaking, provocative, and winning solutions is to build a team that doesn’t agree—a team that challenges each other by combining deeply dissimilar worldviews.

Constructive conflict propels innovation at the personal and organizational level. There are four basic approaches to innovation: the Artist, who loves radical innovation; the Engineer, who constantly improves everything; the Athlete, who competes to develop the best innovation; and the Sage, who innovates through collaboration.

The disharmony between Artists and Engineers and the tension between Sages and Athletes correspond to the two different dynamics of innovation: magnitude and speed. When it comes to the magnitude—or the intensity—of an innovation, Artists drive Engineers to be more radical while Engineers rein in Artists, bringing some pragmatism to their visions. When it comes to the speed of an innovation, Sages slow Athletes down, encouraging them to build a culture that will last for generations, while Athletes keep the Sage’s head in the game, calling attention to quick wins and short-term strategy.


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