Steve Jobs was undoubtedly a brilliant man. I recently watched a rare extended interview during which he recounted the birth and rise of his brilliant career in the computer industry. He retold a remarkable story of an old man in his neighbourhood who once showed him an old rock crusher. The old man once took the young Jobs round to his back garden and placed some old, common rocks into this grinder. The young Jobs was not impressed. The old man turned the grinder on and the noisy clashing of rocks knocking together sounded from the odd machine. The old man told Jobs to come back tomorrow. The young computer nerd was not impressed.
The next day, Jobs returned and the old man produced the rock grinder from his trousers pocket. Gleefully, he removed from the grinder beautifully polished rocks, smooth to the touch. Jobs was to learn a significant lesson much later in life. During the interview, he explained how working in a team is somewhat like the rock grinder. Undoubtedly, there will be clashes, some noise and friction, but this is a necessary process in order to achieve the polished article, the refined idea, the brilliant product. Arguably, without this process, perhaps we are placing the team in danger, in danger of blindly leading into complacency, and unchallenged thinking. Everyone, all in agreement with one another, all the time is dangerous. This leads to group think; a bland, unchallenged homogenous oneness of opinion. Maybe this is what happened in the Holocaust, the transatlantic slave trade and other atrocities for which ‘success’ required mass complicity without questioning.
Whenever there is conflict of opinions within a team, remember that this is sometimes necessary. Better to challenge an idea than follow blindly into a potentially bad one.