Disagreement Could Be The Most Important Factor In Team Success

Disagreement Could Be The Most Important Factor In Team Success

The formula is simple: A goal is established. A character gives a rousing speech. The group sets their differences aside. A song the director thought was cool in high school begins to play. Cue the montage.

It's a nice concept but if you're looking for a more successful formula, then you'll want to update it to something more along the lines of your family screaming bloody murder at each other during Thanksgiving (Up yours, Uncle Carl.). That's because, according to one study, disagreement is a significant predictor of positive team performance.

It seems counterintuitive but makes sense when you consider that psychological safety is a major factor in team success. Imagine that you and a group of people have been tasked with designing a best-selling dildo. If people feel safe to disagree, it's probably because there's a lot of trust established within your group. So if someone proposes making the dildo green, they don't have to fear judgment from the group thinking that they're into sex with Martians. Were they into sex with Martians? No, it turned out it Hulk was their kink. But after a lot of debate you realized that a green dildo allows customers to use green screen effects with it in their home movies. You all made a killing. Teamwork.

Disagreement Could Be The Most Important Factor In Team Success
We all washed our hands before doing this, right?

It works both ways. Trust allows for disagreements and working through disagreements builds trust. There's also the fact that if your group is disagreeing it could just be a sign of diverse opinions, meaning you're better able to attack problems from different angles. It's how a disagreement between one ball vs. three balls ends with, "Hey, let's make the balls detachable and sell them separately." Bam, another dildo innovation.

All that dildo talk aside, this is just one study, so we're not going to hail it as codified law. But, the notion that high levels of disagreement within a group could be a key component to group success is one of those wonderful paradoxical quirks of human psychology that we live for. If given more backing, we'd love to see it rise to the ranks of the Peter Principle or Survivorship Bias - things that don't make sense, until they absolutely do.

Dan has a podcast about The Bachelor, but it's like sports. Check that out if you want.

Top Image: Blaine A. White/Wiki Commons


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