Critical Dialogue: An Elusive Beast

push_me_pull_youYour company is headed in one direction, and you (in your own mind) are headed in another.  Time and again, you find yourself questioning the decisions made by executives seemingly out of touch with the reality “on the ground.”  Trust me, you’re not alone.  Millions of workers have felt and experienced the same frustration.

In a recent Fortune magazine article, Ann Fisher listed strategy disagreement as one of the five most difficult topics to raise with one’s boss.  Disagreement, in many organizations, is viewed as more than a way to simply raise healthy debate, but rather as a sign of dissension and ultimate disloyalty.  And when that happens, sometimes, it’s best to simply walk away….fighting that type of corporate culture can quickly undermine one’s career.

It’s a sad reality of all too many organizations.  Dissenters are quickly labeled “troublemakers,” “malcontents,” or worse by those who either steer the corporate ship or others who have bought into executive direction.  But isn’t there a difference between disagreement and dissension?

Boys Pushing & Pulling Stubborn MuleDisagreement, however, isn’t a bad thing.  No, in fact, it’s a healthy part of any organization.  Just as no executive should want to be surrounded by only “yes men,” all levels of the organization should promote active discourse that challenges the assumptions upon which decision are being made.  In an absence of such challenge, more often than not, the ship will find itself in uncharted territory, and eventually, will run aground.

Does your organizational encourage critical dialogue?

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