How Disruption Can Be Constructive

by Kim Faulkner 19 February 2016

I don’t think it’s a new idea – opportunity emerging from a crisis. Sometimes a crisis that takes you out of your comfort zone; forces you to take a risk and a leap of faith – can actually give you, your team and even your brand, a GREAT boost!

Companies worry about conflicts in their teams. Consultants worry about how conflicts affect a client relationship and project management. Teams worry about conflicts in opinion and perspective being the result of “lack of harmony”.

But the reality is, without some of the tension that comes from conflicting views, ideas and approaches, there is no real breakthrough in thinking, in our modus operandi, or indeed the brands we build and manage.

And there is good reason for this: Companies and teams with high-performing, creative and bright people have ideas and opinions which are necessarily diverse and differing. And it is oftentimes the intellectual and emotional tension that comes from these conflicts of opinion and interests that enrich the culture and indeed the quality of thinking and where team bonding really takes place.

Three lessons I’ve learned along the way:

Don’t confuse “harmony” with successful team think. It’s easy to feel intimidated when people disagree or have a diametrically opposing view to yours. But perhaps meeting that area of conflict head on – in a calm and open way – could show you a very different reality. And the release that comes from arriving at a solution that neither party had thought about previously, or even finding that the other party actually has a point – makes it an entirely different experience altogether. One in which conflict is actually constructive.

“Bad things” do happen… but don’t stop “doing good”.  Brands really prove their mettle when things go wrong. That’s when “word of mouth” really kicks in and you can either clamp down or reach out. With the best will in the world, products, service or technology will let you down occasionally and when that happens, the natural response is to assign blame. But when the team is feeling on edge, leadership and organisational culture is put to the test: Did the Brand Values really come to life when under fire?

The trick is to identify whether this is a larger strategic issue which you need to address, or a “tactical” lapse which you should go out of your way to fix. And if you can empower your team to make it up to the customers involved in a way that surpasses the actual lapse, both the team and the customer will remember the lapse in a positive way. More importantly, if it’s an unexpected grand gesture, they will tell others about it.

Celebrate the Moment! When you’ve stepped out of your comfort zone, and succeeded in resolving the conflict or reaching a solution, hang onto that sense of accomplishment! Savour the moment and remember that this is all the more memorable because it was borne out of difficulty. Then share it and celebrate it with those around you in the organisation, who helped make the disruption a constructive experience.


Kim has over 30 years of branding, marketing and design experience in Asia and has lectured and written extensively on the subject of branding, strategy development, marketing and design across the region.