Change your meeting culture by sparking “productive tension” that has a clear business purpose, relies on behavioral data to start debate and disrupts how meetings usually go, writes CEO coach Sabina Nawaz. “Be explicit about the reason you are raising the heat, so others don’t accuse you of taking potshots at the team or questioning their work,” Nawaz writes.



We often consider ourselves lucky if we’re on a team with little conflict and minimal office politics. When a team works together for a long time, they find a rhythm of collaborating and fall into regular patterns of behavior, minimizing disagreements. But over time, this habitual way of working can limit the team’s performance. We don’t often step back to assess if the team dynamics that we consider “good” are getting in the way of generating breakthrough ideas and results.

For instance, think about your last team meeting. Did everyone get along? Could you predict who was going to speak up and what they were going to say? Was there any disagreement? Do you feel you heard from everyone, or just a select few?

How you interact as a team impacts how you think about your business. If your team’s interactions are becoming predictable or languishing in a flat line, it might be time to stir things up. Just as boiling water changes state from liquid to gas, innovating at work requires us to raise the temperature — to boil water at work.

Raising the temperature in your team meetings means creating enough productive tension through diversity and dissension to stimulate different ideas. Most of us want to (too) quickly drive to consensus and quash divergent points of view before they even surface. Holding out on converging in itself is uncomfortable. Bringing up ideas against the organization’s conventional thinking, is difficult. But inserting a pause to think differently provides necessary provocation to up our game.

To break stale habits in your team and raise the temperature in your meetings, use these four key strategies: