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Other lessons from the fair — managing conflict
In the tractor pull, competitors driving trucks or tractors pull very heavy sleds as far as they can. As they pull the sled, the mechanics of the sled cause the effort to increase. The winner is the competitor in each class who pulls the heaviest sled the longest distance.
Conflict must be managed proactively
The most important part of managing conflict is the establishment of a collaborative culture and alignment around positive core values. Note that when conflict arises, it is too late to establish these values; they must already be in place through long, patient effort. In both the tractor pull and demolition derby, there has to be agreement around the rules and objectives before the event begins.
A collaborative culture does NOT mean that conflict does not arise. Conflict is the arena in which ideas are tested and refined. A collaborative culture puts boundaries on conflict in that it must never become personal. In a demolition derby, it is against the rules to aim for the other drivers’ door!
In the absence of positive core values and a collaborative culture, conflict can degrade into a dog-eat-dog competitive effort, where one person or group wins at the expense of all the others. There is no sense of the group — and each of the participants — all achieving more.
One of my greatest sources of pride about Newforma is that we have an incredible team of smart, extraordinarily capable people at every level who are strongly aligned around a shared set of core values. That serves us very well in most of the decisions we have to make.
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