Page 19 - CSA Speaker Bulletin September 2016 | CSA Celebrity Speakers
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alternatives. Studies comparing the        before the financial crisis he did so    then assess how this might impact on
problem-solving abilities of groups        only “quietly” because: “Deviating       their decision-making.
in which dissenting views are voiced       too far from consensus leaves one
against groups in which they are not,      feeling potentially ostracized from the  Who in your organization serves as
find that dissent tends to be a better     group with the risk that one may be      your Challenger in Chief? Interrogating
precondition for reaching the right        terminated.”                             the choices you are considering
solution than consensus.                                                            making? Making you consider the
                                           Is this the feeling the “clubby”         uncontemplated, the unimaginable and
Yet how many leaders actively seek out     environment in your boardroom is         that which contradicts or refutes your
and encourage views alien and at odds      inadvertently engendering? Or are you    position?
to their own?                              actively signaling that you want to
                                           hear views different and diverse and     And also challenging you?
All too few.                               in opposition to your own? We need to
                                           have the confidence to allow our own     For we are not the robotic emotionless
President Lyndon Johnson notoriously       ideas and positions to be challenged.    decision-makers of economics text
discouraged dissent, with many                                                      books, bound to make the rationally
historians now believing that this         Eric Schmidt, the Executive Chairman     best choices. Instead we’re prone to
played a significant role in the decision  of Google, has talked about how          a whole host of thinking errors and
to escalate U.S. military operations       he actively seeks out in meetings        traps.
in Vietnam. Excessive group-think is       people with a dissenting opinion.
now recognized to have underpinned         Abraham Lincoln’s renowned “team         Did you know that when we’re given
President Kennedy’s disastrous             of rivals” was comprised of people       information that is better than we
authorization of a CIA-backed              whose intellect he respected and         expected — e.g. that our chance of
landing at Cuba’s Bay of Pigs. Former      were confident enough to take issue      being targeted for burglary is actually
employees of the now defunct Lehman        with him when they disagreed with        only 10% when we thought it was 20%
Brothers have talked about how             his point of view. Stuart Roden, Co      — we revise our beliefs accordingly.
voicing dissent there was considered       Fund Manager of Lansdowne Partners’      Whereas if it’s worse — e.g. if we’re
a career-breaker. Yale economics           flagship fund, one of the world’s        told that rather than having a 10%
professor Robert Shiller explained that    largest hedge funds, tells me he sees    chance of developing cancer, we
when it came to warning about the          one of his primary roles as being the    actually have a 30% chance — we tend
bubbles he believed were developing        person who challenges his staff to       to ignore this new information? n
in the stock and housing markets just      consider how they could be wrong, and

                                           “Dissent, it turns out, has
                                           a significant value.”

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