Dissent

I came across this discussion on the internet where people were talking about purposefully introducting dissent into their team in order to avoid consenus. I havn't tried this out, but I thought that the it was an interesting idea that I would like to share, so first up, lets look at what dissent means.

The holding or expression of opinions at variance with those commonly or officially held.

In other words, to go against the grain, to not follow the herd and say what you think, no matter what everyone else says.

What About Consensus?

I have heard many times before that one of the jobs of a leader is to drive consensus amongst the team. What if that wasn't entirely true? What if that actually hampered your team?

Should a leader not strive to embrace dissent? By doing this, people can disagree in a productive way and once they have had those discussions, you can then aim to achieve consensus afterwards. If everyone just strives to achieve consensus, this could actually hide some serious problems that people are afraid of speaking up about.

One thing that is true about people, and which I have done before, it to agree and conform with the group, even if you had a niggly feeling that there was something wrong with it. Its part of our human nature, and we all do it at some point in our career.

Why Do We Conform?

So if we sometimes know it is the wrong things to conform, why do we do it? Here are some of the reason for it:

  • We want to fit in and be part of the group.
  • You may think that other people are more knowledgeable than you and therefore you must be missing something.

I have often suffered with Imposter Syndrome, and for me the second point is the one that hits the nail on the head.

How Do We Fix This?

Some were many suggestions made, but one that I liked is to ask someone before the meeting/discussion to purposefully disagree with what was being said. In doing this, other people would see that it is safe to go against the grain and voice your opinions. This will create an environment where people will feel it is safe to say what they need to say and not follow the pack.

I really found some of this information thought provoking and interesting and I'm keen to try it out in sometime soon.

Until next time...keep learning!

Mauro Da Silva

Learning everyday about software development, leadership & self improvement

Perth, Australia