I’ve been watching a TV series called You Can’t Take it With You in which business guru Sir Gerry Robinson helps bring families together to write their wills. Given the differing values, priorities, perspectives and emotional sensitivity of those involved, it’s unsurprising that -- if not visible, then just below the surface -- there’s always a degree of tension or even conflict amongst family members.
What many of the individuals do -- like so many of us in the workplace -- is try to avoid that tension or conflict altogether, or simply ignore it. If we can’t say something nice, our mothers taught us, don’t say anything at all. Of course, Sir Gerry’s task is to help the families tackle these difficult challenges and decisions. Inevitably, tension or conflict becomes unavoidable, and with it the potential for it to get disagreeable or even destructive.
So what is surprising is just how often he manages to pull off a minor miracle and turn conflict into collaboration. From favouritism, to boys versus girls, to judgments about people’s lifestyles to plain old-fashioned prejudice, Sir Gerry has helped negotiate a way through them all.
The typical strategy says Sir Gerry is to avoid conflict and close down dialogue and discussion (“I’m not prepared to talk about it”). Whilst this approach appears to work for many, stubbornness and inflexibility set in. And when tensions bubble to the surface, people already convinced of the rightness of their view become increasingly polarised around conflicting positions and values. The result he says is ‘destructive conflict’, which is personal, vindictive, and a source of pain.
Other strategies include reducing tensions and stresses by one party simply accommodating the wishes of the other -- a one-sided ‘win-lose’ situation. But this simply glosses over the issue -- something Sir Gerry won’t accept. Another widely accepted means of resolving conflict is to accept that there needs to be give and take on all sides, involving a series of ‘concessions’. A ‘win-some, lose-some’ strategy.
But Sir Gerry believes that when managed properly, conflict can have many positive aspects and even bring about innovative solutions. His ‘constructive conflict’ approach works because those involved have a positive learning experience from the event and see that theirs is not a case of ‘right against wrong’ so much as ‘right against right’. By creating the conditions for each party to both speak and listen he ensures they understand both the what and the why of their differences. By opening up dialogue and sharing and assessing the reasons for the conflict, issues can be clarified which results in more possible alternatives and opportunities to solving the problem. A clear ‘win-win’ strategy.
So how do we manage conflict so that it’s a positive not a negative force? I think it starts with the simple notion that we can disagree without being disagreeable. And that we have to make it “safe” to be different, to take opposite points of view and to disagree. When people know they can stand up and say what they believe without being castigated, guess what? They will!
Tags: business, Change, collaboration, conflict, culture, Culture Change, diversity, inclusion, Inclusion and Diversity, Organisational Culture
“Colin is a 20-year-old computer science student living in London with two other students in the year 2020. He enjoys backpacking, sports, music, and gaming. He has a primary digital device (PDD) that keeps him connected 24 hours a day — at home, in transit, at school. He uses it to download and record music, video, and other content, and to keep in touch with his family, friends, and an ever-widening circle of acquaintances. His apartment is equipped with the latest wireless home technology, giving him superfast download speeds of up to 100 Mbps.” Read More »
Tags: business, collaboration, communications, generation, Generation C, Generation X, Generation Y, Inclusion and Diversity, information, interact, technology, workplace
Last week, I posted a blog called Innovation is key to becoming a ‘people-centric’ business which looked at Inclusion and Diversity from a customer perspective. The article argued that in order to succeed, businesses needed to become “customer centric” – looking at the world from their customers’ perspectives and identifying their customers’ problems and tensions. I’m pleased to see that the post has been very popular and has so far been viewed over 2,000 times! An interesting article in yesterday’s London Evening Standard looked at this idea of customer centricity from a different perspective. Read More »
Tags: business, customer, customer centricity, display, Inclusion and Diversity, innovation, london, meeting, meetings
Sony’s US-specific informational video for its NEX camera runs 2:59. It’s set solely to music. Sony’s video for the Japanese market runs 6:58 and has technical narration throughout. That’s just the beginning of the differences.
Sayaka Katamura and Haruna Kawamoto did a nice informal analysis of the differences that Sony perceives when selling to the US and Japanese markets in a recent post on Ishmael’s Corner. The takeaway? The importance of localizing storytelling.
Reading this article was particularly timely as my co-workers and I are planning an inclusion & diversity event for our Asia Pacific theatre. We held a combination in-person and Telepresence video event in January that was well attended by our North American and European geographies. Of course, that means that it was in the middle of the night for our APAC colleagues. Ah, the joys of a global business. Read More »
Tags: diversity, globalisation, inclusion, Inclusion and Diversity, internationalization, localization
The exchange of business cards is a long-standing tradition that spans all the way back to the 15th century when folks in China used to exchange “visiting cards” or “calling cards” – cards that visitors wrote their names, notes or messages. The cards were introduced in Europe in the 17th century during the reign of Louis XIV.
Bobbie Johnson, Technology reporter for BBC News, has written a thought-provoking article on the effect technology is having on business cards.
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Tags: Bump, business, business cards, calling cards, CV, Inclusion and Diversity, mass personalisation, social media, technology