Constructive Controversy

Improving Solutions by Arguing For and Against Your Options

Constructive Controversy - Improving Solutions by Arguing For and Against Your Options

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Try on different hats to discover new perspectives.

Bù dǎ bù xiāng shí (No discord, no concord.) – Chinese proverb

When you look around you, it's easy to find controversy – that is, a clash of opinions, ideas, information, theories, or conclusions.

You might disagree with a colleague over which candidate to employ, or you could be trying to merge your procedures with those of another team. And, at home, you may find yourself agonizing with your partner over where to go on vacation, while the TV news channel streams political debate in the background.

Controversies like these are a part of life. You can't escape them and, when the aim is to "win" or to close a discussion down, they can be dispiriting or even destructive.

However, disagreement can also be remarkably constructive – if you have a receptive mindset and follow the right approach. You can make better decisions based on good reasons by considering other perspectives and views, instead of simply rejecting them out of hand.

Constructive Controversy is a practical, powerful technique that helps you to do this with your colleagues. It's a way of testing proposed solutions to prove, disprove or improve them. And, through it, you can gain a better understanding of all the factors involved in a decision, and feel more confident in the solution that you choose.

What Is Constructive Controversy?

Constructive Controversy occurs naturally when people with opposing ideas have a desire to agree for their mutual benefit. It's also a technique that was introduced in 1979 by David Johnson and Roger Johnson for assessing different arguments in a structured way, to achieve a positive outcome.


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