>>BOONS OF CONTENTION
It takes a massive geological force to create a diamond. Likewise, sometimes the conflict
among converging project elements can be used as a force for good:
BUILD TEAM COHESION.
“Sometimes a conflict situation means a high level of stress and, in some projects, could
be very useful when you are in a hurry and need a strong and close team,” says Marcello
Patrese, PMP, PMT Group, Trento, Italy.
SECURE DIFFERENT VIEWPOINTS.
“Conflict can be good because you get the devil’s advocate position,” says Mary Osswald,
Kamehameha Schools, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA. “Conflict usually comes because someone
doesn’t want change or they don’t agree with how you’re making change. It certainly
inspires better conversation and more thought about what’s being done and why it’s being
done. It forces the project to evolve.”
AIR BURIED GRIEVANCES.
“If you have a project with no conflict, you might have just as much of a leadership problem as if you were experiencing massive conflict,” Ms. Osswald says. “It’s very unlikely
everybody always agrees with how the project activities are progressing. If you have zero
conflict, my thought is you’ve got a bunch of ‘yes men’ who are keeping their mouths shut
and simply doing what they think the leaders want. Maybe you don’t have an open enough
environment. That’s possibly more dangerous. You risk implementing something that’s not
going to work for anyone.”
DEVELOP CREATIVE SOLUTIONS.
“Conflict from different interests and the expression of those interests sometimes create
the opportunity for creative solutions,” says Ngozi Watts, WMS, Chicago, Illinois, USA.
“However, the later conflict occurs, the less likely it is to create those opportunities. The
project manager has to identify conflict early on to really leverage potentially compelling
interests into a positive.”
how to do our job. You don’t understand what we do,’” Ms. Osswald
says. “In this kind of cultural clash,
you need to foster communication
that focuses on the project’s vision
and objectives. You need to bring
everyone to a shared understanding
of the expectations of the team and
each individual’s role in the success
of the project and the organization.”
The sub-context of this exercise is
to build trust.
“It is almost always worth slowing a project down by a few days to
take the time to assemble the project
teams and revisit the project goals
and objectives,” she says.
Project managers must also find
ways to contend with passive-aggres-sive behavior. Some team members
keep to themselves or don’t speak up
when they should. Others run around
complaining about how the project’s
going without recommending any
solutions to fix matters.
“That can spiral out of control
really quickly,” Ms. Osswald says.
“You go to a meeting where nobody
will speak up or express an opinion,
so you leave the meeting thinking
that everybody’s in agreement with
what the few vocal people have to
say. Then a week or two later, you
get a memo saying everything you’re