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"When Wilbur and Orville Wright executed the first successful manned flight on December 17th, 1903, they stunned the world. Man could fly! Where had these two brothers come from? The impact was astonishing. (Imagine if Neil Armstrong had landed on the moon in a craft he built himself and paid for with a part-time job!) In ushering in the age of flight, the Wright brothers got past numerous obstacles the world’s other scientists hadn’t even begun to tackle. The Wright Way defines seven essential problem-solving principles the brothers used in accomplishing this enormous feat, and shows readers how to apply them to common business problems. The book presents practical, inspirational principles for achievement, including: * Hammering out problems through constructive conflict * Addressing the toughest issues -- or ""worst things"" -- first * Achieving perfection through ""inveterate tinkering"" * Pursuing useful knowledge through ""forever learning"" The book gives business leaders and managers constructive tips they can use to tackle their most difficult -- and rewarding -- challenges and opportunities. A perfect combination of savvy management guidance and historical adventure story, The Wright Way shows readers how to make their business soar when others can’t even get off the ground."
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Use constructive conflict to come up with strong ideas
Always use conflict constructively to uncover and then validate new ideas and strategies. When a new idea has been subjected to the heat of discussion and the mental blows of contention, a much more practical solution is likely to emerge. Let the evaluation of new ideas be robust and thorough.
Wilbur and Orville Wright frequently had "intense discussions" ─they yelled at each other as they discussed ideas and options with enthusiasm. They were able to do this because each respected the other's skills, and they had learned by trial-and-error that these thunderous discussions tended to produce results that would be strong and worthwhile. In this way, they worked their way through many alternative theories of flight until they came up with a workable solution to the problem.
Forging worked well for the Wrights because:
■ Both men had mental honesty ─ that is, they valued learning more highly than winning an argument.
■ The goal was always convergence ─ to come up with the best possible idea, regardless of who came up with it first.
■ They were prepared to genuinely listen to each other ─ and consider the ideas put forward by each other.
■ Both were flexible thinkers ─ they were prepared to revise their original ideas as more information came out.
■ They had self-confidence ─ which allowed them to debate ideas vigorously without fear that things would get out of hand and escalate into anger or personal attacks.
In short, vigorous discussion of potential new ideas energized Wilbur and Orville Wright, and drove them forward. The Wrights had the advantage of family ties to smooth things over, but all organizations can and should take advantage of the principle of constructive conflict or forging to encourage debate and discussion more.
To make constructive criticism effective for your organization:
■ Start with an appraisal first ─ honestly assess whether or not your corporate culture will be conducive to some vigorous debate. Consider whether people will be offended if their ideas are challenged openly and passionately.
■ Establish a clear and well-articulated objective ─ so everyone can participate. Make certain all the people under-stand the aim is to get a good answer no matter where it comes from.
■ Make it lively but keep it civil ─ argue without get-ting angry. Encourage everyone to defend their ideas with passion but to bow out when a superior idea emerges with-out any loss of face. You may need to establish some boundaries beforehand to help guide the debate.
■ Periodically monitor the process ─ and cut the debate off if people are getting too heated or too emotional. This is a balancing act. You need some heat in the discussion, but not so much it becomes counterproductive.
■ Protect the self-image of your people ─ and make it clear under no circumstances will personal attacks be tolerated. The general attitude should be: "Your ideas will come under attack, but not you. !" Make the distinction between the idea and the person putting forward the idea clear cut and firmly held.
■ Don't force people to participate ─ but let them join in when they feel comfortable.
■ Periodically reverse positions. That is, at some point in the discussion, encourage each participant to defend a position which is the opposite to their own. Not only will this increase empathy but it will also keep the discussion lively, non-personal and focused on solutions.
■ Avoid consensus or compromise ─ and let the strongest idea win out. Remember, the goal is to come up with great new ideas, not to generate "warm-and-fuzzies". Compromise should be the last resort when there are two equally strong ideas left standing.
■ Include some non-experts ─ individuals who have little or no knowledge of the subject under consideration. They might bring out some good ideas uninhibited by prior industry practices.
■ Realize the forging process will be useful in many situations, but not all. Be selective.
■ Know how to end a discussion well
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