June 28th, 1914
This year, Americans will commemorate the June 28, 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which sent much of the world into World War I. I'm not going to explore the geopolitical consequences of the Great War. Instead, I'll address the nature of conflict.
One of the myths about the assassination is that it was the cause of the war. It wasn't. It was merely the match that lit the bonfire. Tensions between the Kaiser's Germany and the rest of Europe had been high since the turn of the century, with both sides jockeying for position and allies. The overt conflict may have kicked off in 1914, but the covert conflict simmered under the surface for years.
Conflict between individuals, teams and departments is the same way. It can bubble quietly, unseen, for a long while before it breaks out in the form of heated argument or angry ultimatum. But all the while, it breeds resentments, robs us of our ability to be present, and blocks our streams. Conflict in an organization is nothing to fear; disagreement can be a source of vibrant, sustainable energy and air-clearing communication that shakes us free of complacency. But only when it's addressed and properly harnessed before it turns into war.
In your organization, is conflict a source of tension or positive change?