Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Are you daring to disagree?

Last night's TV news footage of the team back at base celebrating the touchdown on Mars by the Curiosity Rover was a great sight to see. 
A whole room full of people with their 8-years' of hard work culminating in a successful and previously unthinkable landing with celebratory high-fives and relieved smiles all round. 
However, one man in the team did everything possible to sabotage its success  - for example by cutting radio signals to the control room and trying to poke holes in the fuel system.  
Why wasn't he caught and punished? 
Because, as chief engineer for the mission,  Rob Manning's sole purpose was to try everything possible to to enable his team to be able to handle any worst-case scenario. 
“Being a gremlin allows me to soul-search and look at all the things that I missed,” Manning told the Chicago Tribune in the days before last night’s landing.
In a really thought-provoking TED Talk, Margaret Heffernan extends the idea of creating collaboration by embracing conflict, rather than by avoiding it and increasing creativity and thought processes by engaging with thinking partners who are more than just echo chambers. 
According to Heffernan, in a recent survey of US and UK executives, 85% of particpants surveyed admitted to having issues or concerns at work that they were afraid to raise. 
85% is a pretty big number in my book of statistics. What is happening for people that they are so afraid to be open?
One of the reasons for my passion for the work of Will Schutz and FIRO® Theory is that it is unfailingly effective at developing authentic dialogue and openness in individuals and in teams.
As Heffernan suggests in her talk - openness is not the end, it is the beginning. 
Do you disagree...? 

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