Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Dissent is ok

Many organizations are managed by a group of people. This is true of companies, non-profit organizations and social communities among others. In these organizations, among the management, I feel it is all right, even healthy, to have dissent.

Let me explain. Let's say, a decision about some important issue is to be made. Among the multiple managers of the organizations, it is not always necessary (or desirable) for all of them to hold the same views. It is natural for them to have differing opinions.

The important thing to do is to hear everyone out and then take a decision that the majority supports. I believe that consensus should never be the objective.

Many people believe that Sardar Patel would have made a better first Prime Minister of India. This did not happen due to Gandhiji's obsession with consensus. He wanted the Prime Minster to be chosen unanimously. So, even though Patel had the backing of a majority of the Congress committee, Nehru stayed silent when Gandhiji asked one of them to step down in favor of the other. Patel, despite having majority support, stepped down. So, had Gandhiji not insisted on unanimity, the course that India would have taken would have been very different!

I believe that consensus is not good always. It is important to have dissenting notes provided they are healthy and do not result in acrimony and jeopardize the functioning of the organization.


Anonymous said...

it is probably important that a gandhi like person making dissent note

Akbar said...

In a recent book which I read (which I highly recommend) '5 dysfunctions of a team' - the major reason why teams don't function is - the lack of healthy confrontation. When people fear confrontation, they hold back and don't commit - which basically leads to bad teams.