Constructive Conflict

Using deliberate disagreements to find happy balance

Scaling a biotech research platform requires finding the ideal balance along a number of different tradeoffs.

But how do you know if you’ve found it?

Data access is a good example: How do you make sure you’re balancing privacy and security needs (consistency) against users’ needs to access data (flexibility)?

If one person is responsible for deciding who gets access, they’re likely to be biased one way or the other.

If you’re your own devil’s advocate, you’ll be constantly wondering if you’re being hard enough on yourself.

But what if Alice is accountable for ensuring data is restricted enough, while Bob is accountable for making sure users have the access they need?

Then Alice can push as hard as she can to lock things down, while Bob pushes back just as hard to open them up.

As long as they each recognize and respect the importance of the other’s role, they should find the right compromise.

And if Bob comes up with a creative solution that Alice agrees to, Bob can be confident he isn’t making an unsafe decision.

By disagreeing, each of them is making the other’s job easier.

To make constructive conflict work, everyone involved must be comfortable with their role and appreciate the dynamics of the relationship.

But if you can pull it off, you won’t have to be your own devil’s advocate.