Conflict based on personalities is a time drain, wasteful on many levels. Conflict rooted in differing convictions can be constructive and add value if handled correctly. Yet doing so takes courage, and that means facing our fears.
Openly invite conflict. People are afraid of disagreement because, in hierarchies, the outcome can be loss of social status. Invite people to share a multitude of ideas in open forums. There will be less risk associated with offering the “wrong” opinions, and communal trust will increase. 
Kill the experts. Any organization that presumes to bring in “experts” is operating in a hierarchical manner. Call them something else, like “instigators.” It changes the energy.
Critique ideas, not people. In the 12-step circles I’ve been fortunate to frequent as a participant-observer, this is known as “putting principles before personalities.” In a training session on giving feedback, one company I worked with decided to embrace the model of the art critique. This makes the process of observing what works and what doesn’t fun and engaging rather than scary and full of rejection. 
Strictly enforce timeboxes. When deadlines loom, posturing and jockeying for position simply makes no sense.  Study how theater ensembles manage deadlines: the date for opening night gets published and the public is invited in. Everyone in the ensemble has a personal, public stake in meeting the deadline 
Reinforce goodwill. Consistent, sustainable quality cannot occur when people treat each other badly. One company I worked for spelled out its expectation that we would show “respect and candor in all communications.” Too much candor can descend into brutality. Overly respectful deference, on the other hand, can put the freeze on important conversations. So say it, but say it in a nice way. That’s goodwill.
Be #Flawsome. Show your imperfections and people will automatically feel safer around you. A group of people doing this will be more united than a team of perfectionists. Do you believe that awesome imperfection is sufficient to muddle through challenges? Try it on a small project and see how much anxiety and energy get released for finding creative solutions.
Play with options. Forum Theater is a way to stop action in a tense or conflicted setting and reinvent new futures.  The following questions can be posed in writing (to encourage introverts) or in dialogue, or acted out in skits.
- What would I do if I were brave..?
- What would I do if I were all-powerful?
- What would I do if I were in charge?
The Traditions of one worldwide self-organizing group state “So long as the ties that bind us together are stronger than those that would tear us apart, all will be well.” Here’s hoping that all is well and continues to improve with you and your teams.
 Brindusa Axon, “The Power of Productive Conflict” http://www.scoop.it/t/agile-teams-boosters
 Narcotics Anonymous, “Why It Works: The Twelve Traditions of NA” http://www.recovery-world.com/NA-12-TRADITIONS.html
 Tom Wujec & Peter Skillman, “The Marshmallow Challenge” http://marshmallowchallenge.com/TED_Talk.html
 Lee Devin, “Artful Making” and “The Soul of Design” http://www.sup.org/precart.cgi?id=11662
 Sarita Covington, energizing the use of Forum Theater to help organizations and ecosystems http://www.companycypher.com/
Michael Romano, for being a trusted and reliable editor
Pictured: Company Cypher, founded by Sarita Covington with another fellow Yale grad. Coming soon to The Agile Gym (all rights reserved)