Why young firms need Monday morning fights

This article was originally published in The Wall Street Journal's The Experts blog.

Walk the halls of any fast-growing, entrepreneurial company, and there’s a good chance you’ll see some fights. I don’t mean colleagues throwing punches, of course, but at many small businesses, conflict tends to bubble up pretty quickly.

Smart businesses also know instinctively that conflict is good—as long as it gets resolved quickly. Both the company and its customers benefit when they have passionate advocates willing to go to the mat for what they think is right.

But as small businesses start to get bigger, they often learn to hate conflict—and the conflict simmers under the surface rather than being addressed head on. Disputes become personal, or infest entire teams, pitting one group against the other. Worse, the company begins to view it as unprofessional to disrupt a carefully scheduled meeting agenda with an unresolved dispute. People start to frown on dissent.

The solution is a Monday morning meeting designed to unblock any organizational obstacle that keeps people from doing their jobs effectively. The best companies have weekly meetings with a clear cultural norm: meet, fight and then resolve. This ensures that conflicts don’t linger, which would hamper the rest of the organization’s ability to act. And while such meetings help the leadership team to keep tabs on the issues that might prevent the front line from acting, the front line learns that they can’t let a conflict fester for more than four business days.

Read the full article at The Wall Street Journal's The Experts blog

James Allen is co-leader of the global strategy practice at Bain & Company.