Alfred P. Sloan famously said, “If we are all in agreement on the decision, then I propose we postpone further discussion of this matter until our next meeting to give ourselves time to develop disagreement and perhaps gain some understanding of what the decision is all about.”
We remembered this quote at a recent Book Club meeting, as we were discussing Adam Grant’s Think Again. The book is about re-learning, being courageous enough to change your mind, and reconsidering your assumptions. Integral to the discussion is the realization that agreement is not always a good thing. For leaders in the workplace, how do you encourage others to "rethink," and how do you model this behavior for your team?
As part of the book club discussion, we were reflecting on why it is that many of us, in the workplace and beyond, avoid conflict. What’s more, some leaders conflate “disagreement,” “conflict,” and “healthy debate”—and avoid all three!
In my experience supporting leaders at all levels, from newly minted leaders to C-suite executives, I find that there are three key reasons why we avoid conflict.
And of course it may well be a combination thereof!
If you are hesitant to want to engage in debate, whether it’s challenging a decision or testing a hypothesis to ensure it is fit for purpose, I offer you some strategies to try out.
How to make a decision with a group and encourage healthy debate
Before you begin...
During the meeting...
Try it out, and let me know how it goes!