North East Blog Directory

March 26, 2015

Community IT Academy

March 24, 2015

Ryan Tomlinson

Creative abrasion: Why conflict is key to team cohesion

Team dynamic is incredibly important to the success of a project but often overlooked and assumed that simply having talented engineers is good enough. Forming teams is extremely difficult but it should be a conscious effort. Just putting skillsets together is not good enough because personalities and people matter.

Creative abrasion is a phrase coined by Jerry Hirshberg, founder and president of Nissan Design International and describes a culture where ideas are productively challenged. A concept that is all too often seen as dangerous by managers and naturally so. They see a clash of ideas as "conflict" and conflict results in an uneven keel that most managers feel they have to suppress. In fact, the opposite is true. Creating an environment of diversity where opposing approaches grate up against each other is greatly successful in fostering innovation. It forces people to truly evaluate their approach and decision-making.

Perhaps one of the most popular advocates of creative abrasion was Steve Jobs. When creating the Apple Macintosh he hand picked a team of engineers and completely separated them from the rest of the business. The people he chose were intentionally diverse in their personalities. He hired poets, historians, musicians who also just happened to be great engineers. In doing so he formed a team with conflicting cognitive biases, decision making and problem solving processes and left/right brain thinking.

How can you foster creative abrasion

The theory behind creative abrasion is simple, putting it into practice is difficult for so many reasons. It is made more difficult if your organizational culture doesn't foster this mindset, if you're not the hiring manager or if senior managers see conflict as inherently bad.

That being said there are things you can do. Start by pairing people with often opposing viewpoints, who advocate different technologies. Hire people who are opinionated. That's not to say you're hiring them only because they're opinionated but ask yourself "is this person opinionated for the right reasons?".

Finally promote an environment of free thinking and loose process. Giving people the freedom to be self-directed and a process that allows them to step back from the problem and suggest a better way.


Personally, some of the best working relationships I've experienced are with people who I've had heated debates with. Those that couldn't care less about hierarchy, job titles or roles but who care more about doing the right thing. They don't argue or make conflict for the wrong reasons or for personal gain but believe passionately about what they're proposing and who aren't afraid to let it be known.

All too often organizations frown upon conflict or "heated debate". Indeed, it's difficult to manage and know when conflict is negative to the team. Ultimately it's better than having an organization of delegation, hierarchy and yes men/women.


by Ryan Tomlinson at March 24, 2015 03:12 PM

March 18, 2015

Community IT Academy

Workshop: How can you keep your data safe?

Workshop: How can you keep your data safe?

Following the success of our previous workshops, we are running another workshop on data security in North Tyneside in May.

The IT industry has taken a few knocks recently with regard to security breaches, loss of data and virus attack (Twitter, Paypal, iCloud, Internet Explorer etc.). People are rightly concerned if their data is secure, especially with a third party cloud provider. It is true to say that no system is 100% secure and that the weakest element is often the human element, but how safe is your data, and from what and whom do you need to protect it?

To answer these questions, we are running a series of workshops for voluntary and community organisations in the North East of England. The workshops are aimed at chief executives, senior managers and anyone with responsibility for managing IT in a voluntary and community organisation.

The workshops aim to help you understand the risks, whether you store documents on your desktop computer or online 'in the cloud'. We will suggest steps you can take to protect your organisation's data - covering topics such as passwords, malware, hardware failure, public wifi and hacking.

This workshop expands on the topics in our recent guide: How safe is my data? (PDF 243kB)


Training details

Date: Wednesday 6 May 2015

Time: 10am – 12pm

Location: North Tyneside VODA, Shiremoor Centre, Earsdon Road, North Tyneside NE27 0HJ

Cost: £10

Book online: How safe is your data?

Contact: Emma Raynor on 0191 643 2628 or


If you would like to discuss data security or any other aspect of your organisation’s IT please call Lewis Atkinson on 07958 482 509.

by (William Mortada) at March 18, 2015 09:08 AM

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