Why Fighting For Our Ideas Makes Them Better

According to several recent studies, an overly cohesive environment may be an impediment to producing outstanding creative work. Regular, structured fighting over focused ideas may be one of the single most important ingredients in the ideation process. Criticism and constructive conflict are vital to testing the value of the ideas and helping increase that value.

This article highlights several ways to engage in constructive “fighting” over ideas:

Whenever you’re fighting about ideas, however, it’s important that you’re engaging in the “right fight,” criticizing another person’s ideas and not the person himself. This type of conflict, what researchers call “intellectual” or “task” conflict, must be done in an atmosphere of mutual respect and must be based on the factual information available.

At Pixar, the animators have developed a technique that helps keep the fighting productive and intellectual. They call it “plussing.” As people criticize the work under review, that criticism must always contain a new idea or a suggestion for strengthening the original idea – it must contain a “plus.”

Without plussing, their morning crit sessions can get pretty negative and emotionally draining. With plussing, the same meetings are imbued with a positive tone and a direct connection between criticism and newer or better ideas for their work. The meetings still feel like a fight, but they feel like the healthy, respectful fights that keep couples, creative teams, and ideas growing and changing for the better.

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