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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Project Management and Conflict

One of Project Managers' most important roles is to drive continual improvement. In a multi-agenda, multi-stakeholder environment this pretty much means that conflict is inevitable. We're all familiar with the full range of conflict from the healthy kind, which results in the aforementioned improvement to the kind that comes from butting heads with those whose personal agenda and greater good aren't fully balanced.

A key to success for a PM in an agency environment is getting good at working through conflicts in a way that elevates the ecosystem. It's a refined skill, which on the weak side results in you caving on something that needs to be driven and on the other side has too strident an approach, which generates disproportionate resistance. In addition, to a lack of progress, too much of either approach will leave you ping-ponging between them and getting nowhere while building a reputation that you'll have to shake.

I followed an interesting string on the topics of conflict and leadership, which led from:
  • Jessica Stillman's Entry-Level Rebel blog post: Tim Ferris: Don't Be Afraid to Piss People Off on BNET - Jessica is a great amplifier of sage advice from blogs, books and presentations.


  • Tim's Ferris's blog post: The Benefits of Pissing People Off, in which he advises that, "Doing anything remotely interesting will bring criticism. Attempting to do anything large-scale and interesting will bring armies of detractors and saboteurs. This is fine – if you are willing to take the heat."

    and finally to

  • Colin Powell's Leadership Primer on Slidshare, in which, among other things, he advises that, "Ironically, by procrastinating on the difficult choices, by trying not to get anyone mad . . . you'll simply ensure that the only people you'll wind up angering are the most creative and productive people in the organization"


  1. Thanks for the info. With so much conflict at agencies, I'm surprised there isn't more written about this.

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