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Team harmony vs goal harmony

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Interesting quotes from Team Sky boss Dave Brailsford on the prospect of Bradley Wiggins being part of the same team as Tour de France winner Chris Froome:

“I don’t spend a nanosecond worrying whether they get on. People talk about having team unity and team harmony. I don’t buy that at all. Most of the best teams I’ve been with, they’re not harmonious environments. This is not a harmonious environment. This is a gritty environment where people are pushing really hard. What you need is goal harmony, and there’s a big difference between the two.”

We often assume that the best teams are those that get on. But of course that’s not always the case, and nor should it be. The challenge for the creative leader is to manage these tensions (and sometimes even introduce them) to get the best results.

This reminds me of a well-known research paper by Charlan Nemeth: The liberating role of conflict in group creativity. Nemeth’s research is interesting in light of the fact that the instruction ‘Do not criticize’ is often cited as the important instruction in brainstorming. It shows that criticism and creative abrasion can have significant effects on the quality of ideas generated.

“The encouragement of debate—and even criticism if warranted—appears to stimulate more creative ideas. And cultures that permit and even encourage such expression of differing viewpoints may stimulate the most innovation.”

We cover this and more in our Collaborate training sessions.

Photo credit: BenBradshaw

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