Here’s another excerpt from my soon to be published e-book titled: “Resilience; How Culture Impacted the Rebirth of Ford Motor Company”.

I confess that I don’t like conflict. In fact I once received a “B” grade for a paper I handed in on the subject of partnerships. While my professor affirmed my emphasis on unity within diversity, and the facilitation and articulation of common and inspirational vision, he also exhorted me for my lack of detail in the area of conflict resolution.

I further confess that I deliberately did not speak to the issue of conflict resolution. I have been involved in conflicted partnerships in the past and did not enjoy the experience. Maybe I was subconsciously hoping for an endorsement of a protocol that could operate sans conflict resolution.

I have since come to admit that conflict is unavoidable. Period. Every relationship will experience conflict. The key to growing and sustaining the capacity and quality of the relationship is therefore strongly connected to each stakeholder’s ability to resolve conflict. Ironically, conflict can even be positive as it helps us see what might otherwise have remained hidden beneath the surface.

I knew this, of course…as do you. However, to be effective in our capacity to form and sustain relationships we must move beyond “knowing” to incorporate a commitment to resolution in the midst of conflict. And…this brings us back to the issue of “resilience”: “…the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress; an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.” (Merriam – Webster)

I would add…”where the adversity (compressive stress) actually leads to produce a better form or function.”

How many of us chose to drive import vehicles, simply due to the declining quality of the North American alternative? Too many I expect. Is it possible that the 2008 financial crisis was then the best thing that happened to Ford?

Given the level of pain incurred in the lives of so many, I have a hard time accepting it as a gift, and yet it is undeniable that this colossal crisis has become the impetus for a very necessary change. The results are unmistakable; Ford is a better company, with better product than prior to the crisis. Significantly better.

Kudos to Ford leadership for leading the way, for recognizing that culture is leadership behavior, and for demonstrating the courage to put it all on the line, and for providing the opportunity for others to follow in confidence.