The Wright Brothers were successful because of conflict

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  • Posted by: Deepa

The Wright Brothers were successful because of conflict.

Yes, you heard that right. Disagreement is the key to innovative solutions. Your emotional self can have a more enduring trajectory by achieving equilibrium. Equilibrium can be used at the workplace to help you and your teams prevent volatility that has a bad effect on work outcomes.

This dynamic gets expanded up to the group level and applies not just to you as an individual. To maintain the team’s equilibrium and prevent detrimental descents in team morale, alliances, or output, it is important to recognize and facilitate appropriate anomalies. Conflict – This 8-letter word is often looked down upon as a negative word.

Years ago, the Americans applauded the strong relations between the brothers when Wilbur and Orville Wright completed their flight at Kitty Hawk in North Carolina. The brothers had spent their childhood years playing together, working together in the newspaper industry, and building an airplane. Even so, they claimed to have “thought together.” Perhaps you may think, they worked very well together hence their innovation and creativity amounted to their success. We also perceive individuals who work well together to be harmonized and completely in sync without any conflict.

Let’s find out what they meant when they mentioned that they thought together. It began when their father who was a bishop in the local church practiced what he preached; he always believed that conflict is not entirely a negative thing. He included books written by atheists in the library for children to gain exposure and debate ideas with resilience. If done the right way without making it personal and giving feedback and not a criticism, conflicts do more good than harm, they bring out solutions and ideas.

What the Wright brothers meant was that they solve their problems together, many times through conflicts. They had a way to debate, resist and push back between themselves without going away from the solution.

While disagreement over tasks is beneficial and important in the office, conflict over relationships is destructive and causes toxic behavior among team members. In a study conducted by Karen Grant in Silicon Valley, Grant found that the teams who started with low relationship conflict often outperformed those with high ones—even as they went through periods of high task conflict. Task conflict, he maintains, actually often leads to smarter and more creative decisions.

One study found that highly creative architects often came from households with high levels of productive disagreement. Grant also cites the brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright as another example of people who were able to develop the ability to argue rationally because of the supportive environment their father provided at home.

Throughout history, you will find many examples of the best innovations born out of conflicts. You will also get a mix of people who may come from a household similar to the Wright Brothers or from a household that felt secure but didn’t have healthy conflict. Hence, your mission of gaining equilibrium at your workplace may stem from your efforts to embrace conflict. Managers should learn to recognize the different types of conflict that their team confronts to assist them in embracing conflict:

  1. Relationship conflict: Relationship conflict is a dispute between two or more people that results from either personality conflicts or unfavorable emotional interactions. For instance, your team member looks down on your vocabulary or pronunciation, or your colleagues never get any goodies for you from their trip when you go all out for them.
  1. Task conflict: When two parties are unable to proceed with a task because of different demands, actions, or attitudes, task conflict emerges. Conflicts may arise over organizational rules and practices, the allocation of resources, or the approach or means of carrying out a task. In other words, debating over which cake to order is indeed a conflict. Although it is momentary and only task-related, you will not hold a grudge against the person for not agreeing with you that a particular flavor is the best.

Once you have identified the type of conflict it is always wise to bring on board a professional mediator on board who can understand the problem and curate a strategy to help the team work together with conflict that breeds progress. The Jigsaw Discovery Tool is one such medium that throws light on conflicts in a non-threatening way.

Drop us an email at [email protected] to curate a session for your team. 

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