Seeking dissent

There’s a great short story about how Alfred Sloane, legendary CEO of General Motors, sought dissent.

In a meeting where his entire executive team were in agreement on an important decision, Sloane interrupted everyone and said – “Gentlemen, it appears we are in complete agreement on the decision here.”

When he saw everyone nodding, he said – “So, I suggest we postpone this discussion to our next meeting so we can develop disagreement and understand what this decision is really about.”

Building teams that don’t become echo chambers takes work. It requires a collection of personalities who are willing to speak their mind and challenge each other. An environment of such candor necessitates people who are willing to put themselves out there and expose their edges. But, most importantly, it requires leadership which encourages dissent by actively seeking it.

The Alfred Sloane story is a masterclass in seeking dissent.

(Hat Tip to the Heath Brothers’ excellent book, “Decisive,” for this story)