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This Strategy Will Help You Manage Conflict Within Innovation Teams

Group of people sitting at a table

Ekvall, a Creativity and Innovation researcher, wrote about the ten dimensions of a creative environment. The dimensions are challenge, freedom, idea support, trust, dynamism, playfulness, debate, and conflicts, with conflict being the only negative dimension (the more conflicts, the less creative the environment may be).

How do you avoid or prevent conflicts when working in an innovation team? One key to managing conflict is ensuring everyone feels heard and valued and giving everybody a voice.

A fundamental principle in my work is the principle of creativity called Dynamic Balance, which involves diverging to explore options and converging to make decisions. And with this, there are rules for diverging and converging.

Graph to show Diverge and Converge

During the diverging phase, one fundamental rule is "suspending judgment," so all thoughts are welcome, creating a space where everyone can be heard. Using Post-it notes, real or virtual, and working at the same time provides equal weighting for all contributions.

When it comes to converging and making decisions, agreeing on decision-making criteria upfront is crucial. This allows everybody to judge based on clear criteria, removes some of the subjectivity, and fosters agreement based on apparent factors like implementation time, cost, and alignment with brand values. This helps remove the need to defend "your idea" and gives a sense of group decision, removing some of the power struggles that often lead to conflict.

Proactively addressing conflict and establishing transparent decision-making processes can minimize misunderstandings and foster a more collaborative environment.


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