Conflict and creativity

Some people don't like conflict. There are project managers who won't tolerate any hint of dissent, and there are developers who won't speak up to question a decision. But what if conflict were healthy? What if you could harness the energy produced by conflict and use it to improve your project?
Well, you can: conflict and creativity go hand in hand. Composers for example understand that conflict forms an intrinsic part of their work. Their music progresses from harmony to discord and back again, and the tension created by dissonance pushes the piece forward towards its conclusion.
So, a drifting project could be a project starved of creative conflict. If no-one on the team is proposing ways that the project can be done better, faster or cheaper, then ask yourself: is it because the project is perfect, or is it because the project environment does not tolerate conflict?
A coach understands that a project may improve when the team are challenged to confront some inappropriate assumptions or beliefs. This deliberately introduces a small amount of conflict where before there was none. A common approach is to ask open ended questions such as "Why?", "How do you know?" and "What would that give you?" and it can produce rich results when used at appropriate moments.
So is there enough conflict on your project? How do you know?