Lesson 2.1

Getting Into “The Zone” Of Ideal Tension

Dive into this topic by watching the video, followed by key explanations below.

 

Key Concepts:

 

Productive problem solving happens when our perspectives and heuristics are in a zone of “ideal tension.”

  • Differences will automatically produce tension.

  • If we lean into the uncomfortable conversations and explorations that result, we can explore the space between our different viewpoints and find new ideas and solutions to problems.

  • This can be hard, but as long as we don’t go too far and make things personal—or back off too much and avoid the discomfort—this zone of ideal tension is where the magic happens.

  • You can think of it like building muscle: without a little pain, there’s no gain. But if you overdo it at the gym, you’ll injure yourself.

Anything that pulls a group out of this zone is not good—when the group is trying to make a breakthrough together, that is.

  • Anything that encourages “organizational silence”—not participating fully, or holding back… is at odds with progress.

  • Anything that turns things personal, nasty, or combative is at odds with progress as well.

The highest potential collaborations are those in which the teammates give each other 100% personal support and kindness, but are also 100% willing to engage in intellectual conflict. The key is to make sure to recognize when things start to get personal—and to communicate our disagreements and different points of view in ways that don’t trigger others in personal ways. We’ll learn more about how to do this in this section of the course!

The highest potential collaborations are those in which the teammates give each other 100% personal support and kindness, but are also 100% willing to engage in intellectual conflict. The key is to make sure to recognize when things start to get personal—and to communicate our disagreements and different points of view in ways that don’t trigger others in personal ways. We’ll learn more about how to do this in this section of the course!

Stoking cognitive friction and getting in “The Zone” of ideal tension is NOT mutually exclusive with being nice or kind to people.

  • In fact, treating people well while keeping fractious discussions about ideas (and not making them personal) is a good way to keep things in The Zone when cognitive friction is high.