From Disagreement to Innovation: Creating Conflict in Your Team

Leadership is not just about maintaining harmony within your team but also about harnessing constructive conflict’s power to drive progress and innovation. In this article, we will explore why leaders should actively create conflict within their teams and provide you with practical ways to do so, complete with real-life examples that illustrate the benefits.

The Power of Creating Intentional Conflict:

Leaders who understand the value of creating intentional conflict recognize that it can lead to several positive outcomes:

  1. Fostering Innovation: Constructive conflict encourages diverse perspectives and ideas, sparking innovation and creative problem-solving.
  2. Strengthening Relationships: When handled well, conflicts can lead to deeper understanding and stronger team bonds.
  3. Enhancing Decision-Making: Teams that engage in healthy debate are often better equipped to make informed decisions.

How can you create healthy conflict in your team?

1. Encourage Diverse Views:

Invite team members to share their unique perspectives on a project or challenge to create conflict. For example, during a brainstorming session, encourage team members to propose solutions that differ from the status quo.


2. Assign Devil’s Advocates:

Create conflict by assigning someone in the team to be a devil’s advocate during discussions. This person challenges the prevailing opinions and forces the team to examine all angles.

3. Host Debates:

Organize structured debates within your team, where members must argue for or against a particular idea to create healthy conflict. This helps them think critically and refine their arguments.

4. Constructive Critique Sessions:

Create conflict on your team by regularly scheduling critique sessions where team members provide feedback on each other’s work. Emphasize that the goal is improvement, not criticism.


5. Scenario Planning:

Present hypothetical scenarios or challenges and ask team members to strategize solutions. Encourage them to explore multiple options, even if they conflict with one another.

6. Use Case Studies:

Share case studies of successful teams or organizations that thrived through healthy conflict. Analyze what made their conflicts productive and how your team can replicate it.

Examples of Intentional Team Conflict:

1. How Apple Created Conflict to Win:

Apple’s culture of constructive conflict has led to the creation of groundbreaking products. Steve Jobs famously encouraged debates among his team members to refine product designs and features.


2. What NASA Does to Create Conflict:

In the field of space exploration, disagreement, and healthy conflict are vital. NASA’s success is often attributed to its practice of rigorous debates and multiple perspectives on mission planning.

3. How Amazon Leveraged Conflict:

Amazon’s leadership principles include “Disagree and Commit,” which encourages employees to openly voice disagreements and then support the final decision wholeheartedly.

As a leader, your ability to create and manage constructive conflict within your team can be a game-changer. Embrace the discomfort of disagreement, and watch your team flourish as they leverage conflict as a tool for growth, innovation, and stronger relationships.


Remember, intentional conflict is not about discord but about progress. Start incorporating these strategies and watch your team thrive in an environment that encourages constructive debates and creative solutions.

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Jason Cortel is currently the Director of Global Workforce Management for a leading technology company. He has been in customer service, marketing, and sales services for over 20 years. In addition, he has extensive experience in offshore and nearshore outsourcing. Jason is an avid Star Trek fan and is on a mission to change the universe by helping people develop professionally. He is driven to help managers and leaders lead their teams better. Jason is also a veteran in creating talent and office cultures.

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