Arguments, Part 2

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I apologize. The post on Arguments being a missing ingredient of corporate success must not have been clearly written. I never intended it to be a comment on eliciting the input of shy, introverted employees (regardless of what introverted means).

I’m not talking about creating an environment for the shy and timid to speak up. I’m talking about creating an environment that not just tolerates disagreement, but thrives on it.

I think Jeff Hassemer picked up on my intentions by honing in on the leadership aspect. And he couldn’t be more right that the tone of someone’s argument can often intimidate or offend others. But, as I think Jeff implies, it’s the job of leaders to see through the tone to the core of the argument.

Funny thing about the post is that it had been kicking around my head for months before I came across the line in Made To Stick that helped me crystallize my thoughts enough to publish something.

But if I had waited just another day or so, I would have been able to incorporate two more quotes I’ve come across.

The first is from an article in the March issue of the Harvard Business titled Is Yours A Learning Organization?:

“To learn, employees cannot fear being belittled or marginalized when they disagree with peers or authority. Instead, they must be comfortable expressing their thoughts about the work at hand.”

That’s all and fine. But it’s passive. Removing the fear does not ensure that the disagreements come to light. This is where the second quote comes in.

Twyla Tharp, in her book The Creative Habit writes:

“Sometimes the most creative thing you can do in business is pick a fight with entrenched systems and hierarchies, if only to get people questioning the wisdom of doing things the same old way.”

My mental image of the successful firm of the future looks a lot more like a mosh pit than a cumbaya folk song gathering.

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