Lacking Team Ideas: Try increasing conflict and debate by using the Plus 1 Technique
For some time now I have been sharing the idea of how to change personal habits and behaviors by using the Plus One technique. Recently, I came across an article in HBR that reinforced the power of using the Plus 1 tool for working with teams. Essentially, the article was talking about how to avoid the Abilene Paradoxor group think. They were concerned about dearth of ideas some teams come up with because of the fear of debate and conflict. The authors go to say the following: “ When ideas are still being developed or decisions still being considered, criticism and constructive conflict are vital to testing the value of the ideas and helping increase that value. Conflict is an indicator that diverse viewpoints are being considered and that the competition for ideas is still ongoing. During this competition, ideas are strengthened through further research, consideration or through the blending of different ideas into one stronger concept. By contrast, when everyone in a group always agrees, it can indicate that the group doesn’t have very many ideas, or that they value agreement more than quality suggestions”
The case study that caught my attention was how PIXAR used conflict and debate to create better ideas that produced many of their blockbuster films.
During the long process of idea generation and creating exciting and engaging films the creative teams at Pixar rely on criticism to make their work stronger. They focus on keep the benefits of criticism without the negativism by using idea called “plussing.” Plussing means that anytime someone comments on another work, that comment must contain a “plus” — a way to improve or build on the work. Plussing gives the director or animator something they need besides just a critique, it gives them a place to build from and improve their work. Through plussing, Pixar has found a formula for keeping criticism positive, while positively improving the quality of their work.
Whether you rely on centuries old techniques like the devil’s advocate, new methods such as plussing, or just choose to postpone meetings until someone brings in a counterpoint, your teams will make better decisions when you cultivate a little positive criticism. See complete article at HBR Blog http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2013/07/how_criticism_creates_innovati.html