Creative friction: Don’t ask mom or dad for feedback!

Andrea Díaz Navarro
3 min readMar 1, 2021

As a leader, there is a need to guide the team throughout the creative process and its execution. Actually, it’s sometimes misperceived as the ability to cheer the team and send ‘positive vibes’. However, if this is the case, instead of a leader we are encountering to similar characters as when mom and dad told us when we were kids that our drawing was a masterpiece which should be exhibited in Louvre… C’mon! Haha. They adore us and with their loving eyes, the chances of giving us an objective feedback is challenging.

Teamwork can be considered as an open space to share ideas, develop activities and reach a common objective. Actually, it’s completely normal to face disagreements. The key is to identify the scenarios in which the team is dealing with unproductive conflicts and try to focus on the right direction. But, how can we identify the unproductive conflicts versus the creative friction?

Creative friction: Is a deliberate process that can produce exceptional results when the conditions are set mindfully and the parameters, environment, and leaders understand the complexity of the dynamics involved. (Ken Thompson, 2019)

Practically, is the ability to create a sane environment where team members are allowed to express their ideas, make questions, share experiences, do constructive criticism, etc. The objective is to create friction by trying to analyze an idea from different perspectives in order to polish it. At the end of the day, allowing this activity encourages bringing up diversity to the table and spur innovation. The key to have a successful session is having a controlled debate.

Managing Creative Friction in your team!

So here are some tips to ease the process of having a productive session with creative friction:

  1. Look for people who might ‘hate’ the idea: When wanting to receive comments about any idea, we tend to unconsciously look for people who are going to approve our point. It takes bravery to approach to the devil’s advocate who can even have the power to destroy our idea. Don’t be afraid, but be selective about the most important insights you can get from the dialogue.
  2. Challenge each other: If respect and objectiveness are present, there is no need to be afraid to question the point from the other member. Remember you both are teammates. Contribute to strengthen the idea, at the end of the day you both want a powerful proposal.
  3. Identify the non-experts: They can spot the opportunity to enhance the idea from a perspective outside the ordinary. You can think of it as fresh mindsets that aren’t cycled with the restrictions, limitations or solutions that are commonly assessed.

So the next time you see there’s conflict in a meeting, be the leader and guide the friction smartly. As a result, creativity could flourish and be complemented with team members help. Believe me, nothing personal with mom and dad, their opinion is completely appreciated! However, don’t be afraid to allow creative friction, you might find the final piece needed to complete the puzzle.

P.D. I love you mom and dad!❤