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Little Find

In defense of troublemakers

For me, team decision making is a fascinating and often frustrating process… Hence my interest in expert Charlan Nemeth’s clear, practical guide to using dissent to improve collective decisions!

In her new book, Charlan Nemeth challenges the notion of collective genius. She asks: What’s the value of group decisions when pecking orders and majority consensus tend to stifle divergent thought?

The idea that it’s hard to voice dissent rings true. Who doesn’t have trouble arguing for their views when no one else on the team shares or supports them? What’s more, as Charlan explains, when team leaders have a need for control (a common need indeed), they tend, consciously or unconsciously, to punish dissenters.

Meanwhile, the value of dissent to collective decision-making and innovation is common wisdom. One of Charlan’s key points is that dissent is valuable even when it’s incorrect, because it wakes us up out of blind followership, motivating us to seek out further information and consider the cons as well as the pros.

Every team could benefit from having more people speak their minds – from troublemakers – but it’s a hard role to fill. This book is a welcome aid!

To go further: In Defense of Troublemakers: The Power of Dissent in Life and Business, by Charlan Nemeth (Basic Books, March 2018).

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Caroline Schuurman
Published by Caroline Schuurman