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Want to Improve Your Company? Encourage Honest Disagreement

Aug 4, 2016 4:10:16 PM / by Travis Hill

disagree with your team -- it's healthyI love how this Cars.com commercial digs at a gigantic flaw in most traditional companies.

In the video, the person that disagrees gets kicked right out. Granted, the protagonist of the commercial could have voiced his opinion differently, but the point is the same and if his opinion wasn't heard because of a culture of yes-men, then that organization has a problem.

Cars.com calls this "drama," but what they appear to mean by that is equivocating, politicking, and bottling up opinions to look good in front of the boss. Cars.com knows we all hate those behaviors, which is perhaps why the ad is so effective.

But let's talk more about this kind of drama because it's remarkable how prevalent this behavior is in companies to the point that just about everyone identifies with this commercial.
 
 
In corporate environments, how often do we try to get every single person on board with a decision? Asking ourselves honestly, how often do we adjust our opinions based on the opinions of our managers, our peers or our partners? If decisions at your company are frequently unanimous, you might think that it is a great sign that your team is working in sync like a perfect machine. In reality, this is more likely a warning sign for structural bias within your organization. 
 
In this TED-Ed video, Derek Abbott invites viewers to imagine a police lineup where witnesses are asked to identify a bank robber. In this situation, we also might think that unanimity means that they've got the right person, but in situations where we should expect some variability, unanimous responses become much less likely.
 
We should be suspicious of a coin that lands 100 out of 100 times heads because we should expect about a 50/50 rate and yet when it comes to HR or strategy decisions, we accept politicking, power brokering, and influencing to lead our group decisions rather than standing up and stating our unbiased opinions.
 
 
How comfortable would you feel disagreeing with those higher up the chain at your company? How comfortable would you be as the only one in a meeting that disagrees with a plan? Perhaps more importantly, how comfortable does your company make those that disagree feel? Is healthy debate encouraged or frowned upon? Are decisions made unanimously or are there challengers at every level? 
 
Let us know on Twitter @kintone or send us an email team@kintone.com

Topics: Change Management, Company Culture

Travis Hill

Written by Travis Hill

Product Manager

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