Disagree and Commit

Imagine this scenario. You’re sitting in a meeting where a big decision is about to be made. Your leadership has made sure that all viewpoints have been heard and everyone’s opinion was listened to including your own.

With conviction and tenacity, you’ve made it known that you’re not quite happy with the direction that leadership wants to take things.

But the people who signed your paycheck have decided that this is the way it’s going to be.

What do you do now?

Option One: Raise a Ruckus

The first thing you can do is stick to your guns and raise hell. This is risky.

It could be risky to your job security if that’s something you really care about.

The more concerning outcome is that if you do this enough times, you can become seen as someone who is disagreeable, stubborn, and someone people don’t want to come to when they have an idea. Eek. Considering how important that is, be weary with overusing this tactic.

You can also try to back this up with a lot of data and really try to sway their opinion back.

Or you could wait for it all to play out and if you’re right, say, “I told you so”.

The Better Option: Disagree and Commit

The concept of disagreeing and committing was first created by Andy Grove of Intel, and was made popular by Amazon’s principle of “have a backbone, disagree and commit”.

Bezos has famously said that:

“if you have conviction on a particular direction, even though there’s no consensus, it’s helpful to say, look, I know we disagree on this, but will you gamble with me on it? Disagree and commit?”

Why disagree and commit?

By disagreeing, you’re going to encourage healthy conversation and conflict when you’re making a big decision.

By committing, you’re going to ensure that the team is united in its new direction, whatever that may be.

Resulting Outcomes

Disagreeing and committing can turn out a few ways. They’re mostly all positive.

If your original viewpoint turned out to be suboptimal, well then you contributed to the best possible solution. That’s a win.

If your original viewpoint was indeed correct, by deciding to commit to the incorrect direction, you did find out that it was a poor decision quickly. If you hadn’t committed, you’d drag out the eventual outcome and waste a bunch of time.

By using “disagree and commit”, you also avoid that awkward scenario where a small but strong group makes a decision without other people expressing any dissenting opinions. Then they wonder why the team doesn’t care about the success of this new direction…

Disagreeing and committing encourages you to commit to other people’s ideas and see that it’s not always your way or the highway. Next time someone makes a decision you don’t particularly like, give it a try.