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Agile Notes (No. 60)
Constructive Conflict vs. Destructive Argument
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This week, we continue with Collaboration Explained by Jean Tabaka. We are moving on to Chapter 18: Managing Conflict.
I recommend reviewing the right “Destructive Argument” column first. Do you recognize those scenarios? Then go read the “Constructive Conflict” antidotes.
Tabaka reminds us that our role is Owner of the Process and not Owner of the Content. You can’t ignore conflict. Be on guard! She provides guidance on how to navigate the path from Destructive to Constructive conflict:
Encourage information sharing
Making information and decisions highly accessible
Take away the blame
Drive to CONSENSUS [my emphasis]
Help team members feel heard and understood
This is arguably (see what I did there?) :) the most challenging part of being a project manager, scrum master or facilitator. You have to be willing to jump into the middle of the argument. You have to stay calm when you do so. Tabaka recommends documenting the facts (on a white board or share your screen). Documenting will create space and provide a little breathing room. It will slow everyone down especially when you ask for help with capturing the FACTS.
Also, don’t forget your other tools. Is the argument relevant to the Meeting Purpose? If not, get your meeting back on track. Have the team members gone completely wild? Call a time out! Refer to the Ground Rules.
What about you? Tell us your Discussions Gone Wild horror stories and what you did to overcome and get the team back on track. What did you do to shepherd your group through it? What kind of tools have you implemented?
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