Obama Replaces Costly High-Speed Rail Plan With High-Speed Bus Plan

How do stupid ideas survive to see the light of day in government and even in really well-managed companies? Review the spoof below produced by The Onion and then read on if you’d like to learn something new about how recommendations from teams that avoid internal conflict have the potential to jeopardize the success of your company:

Obama Replaces Costly High-Speed Rail Plan With High-Speed Bus Plan

Please know that the example, above, is not an attempt to make a political statement about the current administration. I’m using it as an example of what happens when well-intentioned members of a team lose track of their goals. Management professors refer to it as a “bureaucratic dysfunction”. In short, it’s where the highest value of a team is getting along and being “nice” to each other – all the time. Constructive conflict and confrontation is avoided at all costs; there is no place for fighting or arguing.

I’m not sure but I suspect the new product team at Colgate suffered from “Nice Team” syndrome when they launched Kitchen Entrees by Colgate. Most likely, their logic in introducing a line of frozen dinners was that consumers could eat a Colgate meal, and then brush their teeth with Colgate toothpaste. It was a complete bust!

And in the early nineties when Pepsi launched Crystal Pepsi, a clear, caffeine-free cola that didn’t taste or look like a cola (people didn’t even know what it tasted like except that it was bad) – well, it just seems that some important issues didn’t come to the surface during their team meetings. Two years later Pepsi pulled the product from shelves.

According to How Management Teams Can Have a Good Fight (The absence of conflict is not harmony it’s apathy), in the Harvard Business Review, “Management teams whose members challenge one another’s thinking develop a more complete understanding of the choices, create a richer range of options and ultimately make the kind of decisions necessary in today’s competitive environments.”

Conflict can lead to new ideas. Conflict helps a team stay innovative. Believe it or not, conflict builds closeness among the members of a team. The benefits of conflict among team members brings new meaning to the saying, “nice guys finish last”. Maybe it’s time for you to examine “niceness” in your workplace.

One Response to “Obama Replaces Costly High-Speed Rail Plan With High-Speed Bus Plan”

  1. Rick McMaster says:

    A great story about avoiding conflict and the consequences is “The Abilene Paradox”. I recommend reading it.

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