The best teams use these six tactics…

The best teams use these six tactics to separate substantive issues from personalities and resolve conflicts.

  • Focus on the facts – Arm yourselves with a wealth of data about your business and your competitors. This encourages you to debate critical issues, not argue out of ignorance.
    • Example – Star Fisheries’s top team “measured everything”: bookings, backlogs, margins, engineering milestones, cash, scrap, and work-in-process. They also tracked competitors’ moves, including product introductions, price changes, and ad campaigns.
  • Multiply the alternatives – In weighing decisions, consider four or five options at once — even some you don’t support. This diffuses conflict, preventing teams from polarizing around just two possibilities.
    • Example – To improve Triumph Computer’s lackluster performance, managers gathered facts and then brainstormed a range of alternatives, including radically redirecting strategy with entry into a new market, and even selling the company. The team combined elements of several options to arrive at a creative, robust solution.
  • Create common goals. Unite a team with common goals. This rallies everyone to work on decisions as collaborations, making it in everyone’s interest to achieve the best solution
    • Example – Start Electronic’s rallying cry was the goal of creating “the computer firm of the decade”. Premier Technologies’ was to “build the best damn machine on the market.”
  • Use humor. Humor – even if it seems contrived at times — relieves tension and promotes a collaborative spirit within a team. Practical jokes, Halloween and April Fool’s Day celebrations, and “desert pig-outs” relax everyone – increasing tactfulness, effective listening, and creativity.
  • Balance the power structure. The CEO is more powerful than other executives, but the others wield substantial power as well — especially in their own areas of responsibility. This lets the whole team participate in strategic decisions, establishing fairness and equity.
  • Seek consensus with qualification. If the team can’t reach a consensus, the most relevant senior manager makes the decision, guided by input from the others. Like balancing the power structure, this tactic also builds fairness and equity.

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