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. He 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 crusher. The old man told Jobs to come back tomorrow. The young computer craftsman was not impressed.
The next day Jobs returned and the old man produced the rock grinder from his pocket. Gleefully he took out from the grinder beautifully smooth, polished rocks. Jobs was to learn a significant lesson much later in life. During the interview, he explained how working in a team is a bit like the rock grinder. Undoubtedly, there will be clashes, some noise and fights, but this is a necessary process in order to get the polished article, the refined idea, the brilliant product. We could argue that without this process we are actually placing the team in danger, in danger of blindly leading into complacency, and unchallenged uniformity. Everyone all in agreement with one another all the time is dangerous. This leads to group think; a bland, unchallenged oneness of opinion. Maybe this is what happened in the Holocaust, the transatlantic slave trade and other atrocities which required mass complicity.
I’d like us all to remember that conflict within a team is sometimes necessary. Better to challenge an idea than follow blindly into a potential bad one.