Maverick Code: A room for opponents! | Today’s perspective

Maverick Code: A room for opponents!  |  Today's perspective

Within organizational research, several findings have been made that show that we benefit from the fact that there are dissidents, that is, those who dare advocate views other than the majority, Troels Leland writes.

Trols Leyland is a Research Fellow at the NHH/Hauge School of Management

Point of view: People who think differently from the majority, the opponents, not only create greater diversity. They contribute valuable insights, other perspectives, and new ideas. We need more, not less, from this day.

Within the framework of organizational research, several results have been made which show that we benefit from the fact that there are dissidents, i.e. those who dare to defend views other than the majority. In fact, this is also the case if what they represent at the end turns out to be incorrect. Several studies show that the quality of decisions in organizations increases when this type of minority opinion is communicated during the process. In fact, decisions can be better when someone dares to challenge an established mindset. It is necessary for different viewpoints to emerge and become a part of the evaluation that is made until a decision is made.

Of course, we are not talking here of quarrel or difficulty, nor of differing for the sake of difference. While it may be helpful for someone to ask critical control questions or take on the role of opponent or “devil’s advocate,” the defector goes deeper than that. This is done, among other things, by promoting a different point of view, an alternative solution, or a new way of looking at things constructively. This allows different arguments and viewpoints to be evaluated, honing them against each other and contributing to the breadth of opinions that are presented to the arena. This, in turn, makes it possible to see even more nuances. We may learn something new and be enriched by other ways of looking at the world. And not least: we can find new solutions and answers to the challenges we face precisely because we choose to let go of new ideas and ideas.

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In many ways, it is absolutely essential in a healthy organizational culture that you show respect and try to understand the perspective of those who think otherwise. It should of course be that the differing opinions are frankly discussed and the actual content of the arguments being discussed. Organizations characterized by compliance and alignment represent the opposite. Here it is difficult to imagine that innovation and creative solutions enjoy good growth conditions. A strong culture is all well and good, but not if it is so rigid and entrenched that it becomes more important to fit in and speak properly politically than to dare to challenge and think in a new way. Then the pressure to comply can become so great that voices promoting other views fade and die.

In the extreme, this can lead to what is called groupthink. Here, the desire for harmony, agreement and compliance becomes so great that one simply does not think of alternative solutions. It is very difficult to come up with dissenting opinions in such a context. Thus, there is a high chance that good and constructive proposals will be rejected and you will end up with bad decisions as a result. Then, of course, it’s not that consensus and agreement are negative. However, this should come as a result of a process in which the various alternatives are explored first, rather than actually deciding the answer. So we need dissidents who dare to challenge the established mindset and come up with other ideas and perspectives.

Finally: for institutions to break the law of opposition, managers and staff are needed who make it easy for opponents to let their alternative opinions escape and ensure that their voice is heard before a decision or solution is made. It requires openness, courage and security. If we want to be able to develop the best solutions to tomorrow’s challenges, this is the key: Make room for different thinkers! Abandon the dissidents!

Dalila Awolowo

Dalila Awolowo

"Explorer. Unapologetic entrepreneur. Alcohol fanatic. Certified writer. Wannabe tv evangelist. Twitter fanatic. Student. Web scholar. Travel buff."

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