Chapter 13

Embrace Productive Conflict

You find yourself sitting in the cafeteria talking about a proposed new product line with two teammates. You had a long to-do list, but these two have grabbed you and it doesn't look like they're going to let go anytime soon. The person doing most of the talking is Frank, a senior member of the team with many years' experience and strong influence over the boss. The other person is Lisa, one of your good friends on the team with whom you have been developing a plan for a new set of products.

The conversation began innocently enough when Frank asked you and Lisa for an update on your project. Once it became clear that you weren't going to appease Frank with quick answers to his questions, the three of you found a table and settled into a discussion.

After a few minutes of relatively innocuous questions, you realize Frank is holding back. His body language suggests he is uncomfortable and that there's something he isn't saying. Finally, he comes around to an issue you know is going to be a sticky one: The proposed new product line you are championing will mean finally abandoning an old line that Frank has been trying unsuccessfully to get off the ground for two years. The people he needs to keep that product alive are the same ones you'll need for the initial stages of your project. Moving them to the new project will cut off the last vestiges of hope that the old product can succeed.

Frank goes on the offensive. “I'm asking you not to present ...

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