The Effective Executive Develops Disagreement


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You may say, “That’s a peculiar goal.  Why would an executive want to develop disagreement?”

My answer is, because the type of decisions an executive has to make today are not made well by acclamation.

Consider this quote from Peter F. Drucker from his book, The Effective Executive:

“Unless one has considered alternatives, one has a closed mind. This, above all, explains why effective decision-makers deliberately create dissension and disagreement, rather than consensus. Decisions of the kind the executive has to make are not made well by acclamation. They are made well only if based on the clash of conflicting views, the dialogue between different points of view, the choice between different judgments. The first rule in decision making is that one does not make a decision unless there is disagreement.”

How do you develop alternatives for decisions that must be made?

Do you suffer from undue influence from those in your organization who stand to gain or lose from your decisions?

More importantly, do you stimulate the imagination and input from eclectic parties to reach your decision?

If not, why not?

What are you thinking? If everybody agrees, why do you need everybody?

The best decisions come from a richness of diversity and varying view points and perspectives.

If everyone goes into a room and agrees, you typically have the wrong composition of people in the room.

Here is what Jim Collins, author of Good To Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t, has to say on the topic:

“Good-to-great management teams consist of people who debate vigorously in search of the best answers, yet who unify behind decisions, regardless of parochial interests.”

For me, the key component of Jim Collins’ quotation is that the executives unify behind decisions, regardless of parochial interests.

Too many times in my work with organizations, I have witnessed consensus in the board room and division as soon as everyone goes back to their fiefdoms or domains.

The best companies, the ones who create the best customer experiences, the companies who are innovating and the companies who are continuously improving have executive teams that don’t have individual self interests, but align around the common good in the decision making process.

I challenge you to go develop a process that ensures you develop organized disagreement among your associates over decision alternatives.

It is important that you make sure by encouraging disagreement that you do not lose conviction when you see some of your decisions prove deficient or wrong.

One of the common themes I see in organizations that are under performing,  is that these low performing organizations are constantly hedging their decisions, or worse yet, a decision is never a “final” decision.

The effective decision maker compares effort and risk of action against the risk of inaction.

Drucker says, “Act or do not act, but do not hedge or compromise.”

Eventhough this advice sounds a little bit like Yoda, I think it is critically important today due to the contagion that is spreading through organizations called indecision, lack of conviction, or hedging.

I have seen too many companies, teams and individuals drill a well 99% and stop right before hitting oil, or run a 99 yard dash and stop before finishing the race.

Here is a tough question for you; Do you tend to hedge a decision if you know the decision is not going to be popular?

If you want to create good decisions, I encourage you to develop disagreement.

Be sure you understand what the decision is all about.

But please, when you follow a process and the decision is ready to be made act or don’t act.

Do not hedge by asking for another study, committee, or research on the topic.

Tomorrow, I am going to write about how to take responsibility for decisions once they are made.

P. S.

Tomorrow I am also going to share how to confront the brutal facts without blame.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Peter Psichogios
Peter Psichogios is the President of CSI International Performance Group whose mission is to help companies create engaging employee and customer experiences. Prior to joining CSI International Peter served as an executive member of one of the largest Instructional System Association companies in the world. In this capacity, he led all the front-end analysis and worked directly with Dr. Ken Blanchard. Peter has been fortunate to work with the who's who of the Fortune 500, helping them deliver innovative learning, engagement and recognition solutions.


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