When our smart people disagree, does their distress waste time and money or energize them to begin a collaborative search for new ideas?

New ideas are the life blood of organizational success and personal satisfaction. The best new ideas come from people who have embraced the concept and learned the skill to “Let Ideas Compete – Not People!” as taught by The Thoren Group.

Trained people, who are excited to “Let Their Ideas Compete,” can create “3rd Ideas” that represent breakthrough thinking and break out results!

“Uncomfortable with conflict, morally conditioned to avoid it, and unskilled in processing it,” is how most individuals, team leaders and managers describe themselves. Some admit to an “Attila the Hun” mentality and enjoy crushing opposition or dieing on the battlefield. This leaves us to decide if fight or flight is the most non-productive reaction to conflict! The encouraging news is that many of these same people can recall past instances when intrapersonal and interpersonal conflict resulted in innovation. The door is slightly open to help people see the positive potential of
conflicting ideas.

Conflict resolution training in the past 20 years has had limited impact, including much of my own!! How much have you been helped by being reminded of win/win, appropriate assertiveness, don’t be defensive, co-operative power, willingness to negotiate, honing your listening skills, control your stress, etc.?

I completely redesigned the Thoren Group approach by taking the emphasis off the process and putting it squarely on the innovative quality of the result! Being a polite, “good team player,” in the face of a less than desirable negotiated solution, is not my idea of conflict resolution. By putting the emphasis on the result-the best possible solution, people are forced to look beyond advocating and defending their own ideas.

No one should be surprised if she or he hires bright people and find they have conflicting opinions! Conflict is fertile ground for discovering innovative solutions to problems and for discovering pathways to the creation of new products and services! Wasted energy from conflicting opinions can be converted to energize a search for creative new “3rd Ideas”

The critical success ingredients for both leaders and participants to convert conflict into an innovative outcome are…

  1. A belief system that is comfortable with conflict, values its potential for good and encourages the competition of ideas; and
  2. Communication skills for exploring conflicting ideas and guiding people through the discussions necessary to select the best among the competing ideas.

These two ingredients are well summarized by a former VP of Motorola and client of ours, Bob Solem, who coined our motto:

“Let Ideas Compete—Not People!”

For guiding people through conflict, even communication skills experts express significant conflict between the advocates of dialogue skills vs. persuasion skills. Our research and training efforts have led us to an integration of skills from both these skills sets so that not only is mutual understanding achieved but also mutual commitment is
secured so that timely action can take place.

Intelligence and curiosity? The successful person develops versatility that enables them to be curious about others ideas (even seemingly dumb ones!) while also being an effective nominator of their own ideas. Our mix of 26 chronologically sequenced communication skills helps people facilitate themselves and their combatants through
an ideas examination and selection procedure to discover new and better “3rd Ideas”.

So, What About You?

Learning these skills to “Let Ideas Compete – Not People” is not as illusive as it may seem. Even if you are one who shys away from conflict, you can learn the skills necessary to put management of conflict in your arsenal of success tools. You can be one who models skills enabling both organizational harmony and individual initiative to be preserved. With proper skills, you too can be an even more effective change agent at any level of an organization, association, church, charity, club and even your own home!

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