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Beyond Measure

The Big Impact of Small Changes

By Margaret Heffernan
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Beyond Measure: The Big Impact of Small Changes by Margaret Heffernan

Beyond Measure (2015) shows that transforming a struggling company into a thriving one is a simple matter of making small systemic changes that empower people to speak up, collaborate and share. Discover you can stop your company from being controlled by one overworked CEO and make it into an innovative powerhouse where ideas can flourish.

Key idea 1 of 6

Creative conflict within companies can be learned through practice and supportive structures.

You’ve probably been there before. You’re sitting in a business meeting, and someone proposes a business decision you disagree with. And because you don’t want to seem hostile, you hold your tongue.

But avoiding debate is never helpful, and there are ways your company can change this unproductive habit.

The key is creative conflict, a skill that, like all others, can be learned through practice.

With creative conflict comes a willingness to disagree and challenge the general consensus so that new and creative ideas can be developed. But what many people don’t know is that there’s a talent to productive disagreement.

Brooke Deterline is a constructive conflict specialist, and she is always astounded by how her clients assume they’ll be able to productively manage group discussions on their first attempt. It’s particularly surprising since people recognize that other skills, such as learning a language, a musical instrument or public speaking, take time and practice.

And when it comes to creative conflict and the ability to effectively express your opinion and meet conflict head-on, it is still practice that makes perfect.

The first key point people need to realize is that they must prepare and gain supportive allies before they take on authority figures at the workplace.

Deterline coached one of her clients, Luke, through this process when he had to stand up to his aggressive boss while negotiating a contract.

The first step was simulating how the situation might play out; they considered how his boss would react to different statements and devised appropriate counter-reactions for Luke.

Then, Luke reached out to his colleagues within the company for advice and support. This allowed him to strengthen his position further so that he could engage with his boss in a productive conversation.

So, by the time Luke had the actual negotiation with his boss, he was confident. He knew what he needed to say and how to react appropriately to whatever his temperamental boss threw his way.

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