I last wrote about the new Conflict Calculator™ and the benefits of measuring the costs associated with negative conflict outcomes in teams. This time I’d like to focus on the flip side of that equation, the cost to a business for not having a team dynamic that embraces and uses conflict for positive outcomes.
I like to simplify things that are complex. It makes it easier to grab hold of and help change to happen. The human dynamics around conflict are complex. After nearly six years of studying and working in the field of conflict resolution, measuring the costs of it set up a whole new set of issues to think about. As I explored ways to measure the costs I found quite a few researchers were talking about the benefits of conflict, not the costs, and I went into overdrive trying to simplify this apparent collision of two opposites. How could conflict possibly be good for a business and bad for a business at the same time? Several colleagues I know well questioned my assumptions; my assumptions included the ideas that there was good conflict and bad conflict, and that conflict could be described in terms of always having a cost. Those critiques led me to two simplifications; (as an aside, my complete trust in these colleagues fits well in this dynamics conversation and is great fodder for an entire post)
(1) Conflict is not good or bad, or something that we can guard against like we guard against the flu. Conflict is something that naturally occurs, just like the sun coming up ever day. What we do with the opposing ideas or needs that we call conflict can result in positive or negative outcomes, depending on how we handle them.
(2) Although the possible positive outcomes from conflict are harder to recognize, identify, and label than the negative outcomes, the positive outcomes have far more potential to be powerful and change making.
The Innovation Estimator™ was born from this aha moment of simplifying the complex. If a team has a dynamic that is built to deliver positive outcomes from conflict, it will be stronger, more innovative, and more high-performing than a team that does not.
Our easy to use FREE "starter" tool uses a combination of research data about positive conflict outcomes, and your custom answers about the team dynamics to calculate the yearly costs for the business associated with having untapped conflict. This unique tool is meant to highlight that well managed conflict is good in fast paced teams. As we began the process of building this tool, it became clear that there was a distinct list of costs associated with not pushing the limits of human dynamics around conflict and many of those costs centered on innovation - or the lack of. Measuring the costs associated with a lack of innovation or creativity was determined to be an impossible task. What we could do though was build a tool that produced a baseline cost that could be used to compare the team to itself and other teams with some very calculated questions and many years of experience and research as a foundation. The result; a tool that produces a basic cost number to start a conversation within your organization/team about this really positive issue. Do you work well enough with conflict to get the job done?
Your custom answers are used to build multiplier values in the calculator. Those values are multiplied against dollar and percentage values outlined in the Innovation Estimator supporting information page linked here.
We decided to measure costs instead of benefits. We are positive, really, yet this seemed like the best way to explain things from a business perspective. Nobody likes extra costs…
Here are the costs the tool measures:
- Lack of New Ideas and Innovation
- Reduced Creativity
- Diminished Problem Solving Capacity
- Lost Opportunities (short & long-term)
- Degraded Decision Quality
- Change Resistant Team. Difficulty in Pivots
- Market Entry Delays
- Focus on Productivity is Diminished
- Lack of sense of Urgency
- Quality of Product or Service Diminished
- Reputation; re: Employees & Prospective Employees
- Incompetence Tolerated / Team Complacency
- Lowered Job Motivation and Productivity
- Demotivated Staff Due to Lack of Progress
- Loss of Core Skilled Employees
- Reduced Innovation Premium on Company Value
- Erosion of Shareholder Value
It has been a fascinating journey for Resologics so far. I believe that this new tool will provide you with a new and positive way to look at your team dynamic and will result in a conversation that leads to powerful positive outcomes for you and your business. Please let me know what you think.
Thanks for trying it and for sharing it with those you know.