In situations involving more than one person, some conflict is inevitable, whether expressed or not. In families, friendship groups, personal or professional partnerships, teams, and more complex organizations there are conflicting needs, vested interests, goals, and preferences. In some venues these conflicts are feared, suppressed, and avoided. In others, they are welcomed and can lead to innovation and positive change. As a leader, your attitude toward conflict will guide those who follow you to treat it as an opportunity to be explored or a disturbance to be ignored, if possible.

There are many approaches to dealing with conflict[1]. By culture, training, and experience, there are usually some that we prefer over others. Not all approaches are equally effective. Below is a list of some common options for dealing with conflict and their descriptions…

Since I first wrote this article, AI has become an everyday reality and we are beginning to outsource a lot of ideation to nonhuman entities. So what is the place, if any, for the good old tool of brainstorming, introduced by Alex Osborne in 1953 and beloved by teachers, leaders, organizational consultants and meeting facilitators since then? Creative thinking remains in the province of the human mind – at least for now. So it seems worthwhile to examine this tool – which for some is the only tool related to creative thinking that they use – to see what, if any, value it can still provide.

Does brainstorming produce creative ideas? Not likely. Is it an important part of the ideation process? Well, yes, in my experience.

First, let’s consider how brainstorming is most frequently used. The process that is called “brainstorming” in many organizations is simply a session in which people are encouraged to toss out ideas. Often, they follow the ground rule of not judging the ideas immediately, but seldom use Osborne’s structured method that encourages everyone to contribute an idea or pass in each round and to let the ideas run down several times before ending the process. In fact, too often the most senior or loudest voice results in ideas that are not properly critiqued or vetted before moving them forward. At times, leaders and managers end the ideation session once they hear an idea that has at least some merit or agrees with a preconceived or politically correct solution. This means that there are few or no other ideas to compete for selection as the most interesting, creative, or practical way forward.

B. Kim Barnes (reprinted from “The Influence Guru”)

You’ve thought through how to approach your boss, your colleague, your partner. You have put together a solid and logical case that should meet their decision criteria. You have made an effort to understand their needs and believe you can show them that your idea will meet those needs beautifully. Somehow, though, your case falls flat. They give you a polite excuse, a rational-sounding rebuttal, an angry dismissal, or simply avoid responding at all. You’re puzzled and disappointed. It’s tempting to assume that they are simply resistant to change or to believe that they are being unreasonable. Of course, that often leads to a sense of futility, to giving up on that idea or that person’s potential support.

In 2018 I wrote the following article:

Driverless cars. Smart stores. Bartenders, pharmacists, and journalists replaced by algorithms and machines. Attorneys and surgeons could be the next humans replaced by robots. Is this your future, too? What can humans do that robots can’t?