Dissidents

There is a feeling that a single dissident in a team should be overruled if the rest team disagrees with them.
The problem with that is, what if they are right?
If they are there just making trouble, then you have bigger problems.
If they are not, that person has shown courage to go against the grain and that should be respected. The reason for why they are going against the grain should be explored. The exploration should be in a manner that is scientific to either rule in or out the feasibility. What has made this person passionate enough that they ignore peer pressure? What do they know that the rest of the team doesn’t know? These are questions that should be answered.

One reason not to shut them down is that if you shut down the person and overrule then, then the next time they have an idea, they will be more cautious in sharing that idea. It may take time before they bring up ideas again. Let’s say a week for the first time. If the next time they are shut down again, then they may wait a month before they try again. Shut down again, it could be 6 months to a year. Shut down once more and it could be 2 years or worse, they will say the proverbial “FU all” and either leave or become the unruly dissident you were afraid of in the first place. That is if they do not conform in the first place. In which case, you have lost your independent thinker anyway.

On the other hand, had the suggestion be explored, it may have wasted a little time, it may have wasted a lot of time, but you still have your engaged employee, and possibly an idea that may have significant positive impact.

One of the reasons the ideas are not explored is that there are time constraints and there is not time to “Play”, no problem I say,  let the person do a small experiment. Let the person know they have a small period of time to show results. From that time evaluate and either make a decision or determine if more evaluation is needed.

Even if an immediate decision is needed, let the person explore the option after the fact. It becomes a learning experience for the next time.

Dissidents should be praised, not only for their courage but because they show that their thinking is different to the group. The debate itself could elevate ideas within the group, increase thinking outside the square and may lead to better solutions.

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