The Golden adage “stick to your knitting” becomes an epitaph if a corporation doesn’t engage in constructive conflict that innovation brings about. This is because our fixation on “what is” obscures the necessity of worrying about “what isn’t” and “what might be”. Although organizations do need to drive themselves towards perfection, the pursuit of operational excellence is often mistaken as an end in itself. Note that of the corporations and the Fortune 500 rankings five years ago over 25% are missing today. To keep a company sustainable, conflict must be embraced.
When thinking about constructive conflict, a good place to start is by identifying the factors that drive stagnation and lack of renewal in organizations. The “Fit, Split, Content, and Transcend” figure shows four such areas. The conflicts that arise when looking at an organization through this lens need to be constructively harnessed. One way to make sure that the conflicts are put to good use is to view them through all perspectives of the 7 “S” framework as shown in the “7 S Framework” figure. When using these models it is a manager’s job to maintain a constructive level of debate that leads to identifying blind spots and working around obstacles.