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February 09, 2006


Does she mention in her decision making rules the absolute need to search for and address "disconfirming evidence?" 6 out of 10 executives have perceptions that are way off partly due to their aversion to dealing with factors that suggest they are wrong.

Darwin underrstood this tendency and fought it. According to Benard Patten: "He kept a notebook in which he recorded objections to the theory of evolution. He found that if he did not write down the objections as soon as they occurred to him, he would forget them and remember only the ideas and facts that supported the theory. In other words, he knew that his mind, that of a great scientist, had trouble resisting the pull of an idea in which he had so much vested personal interest. Objections to his theory created mental disharmony. His mind protected itself by tending to forget the disturbing ideas, to partially select the ideas favorable to evolution, and to reject or forget ideas unfavorable to his theory."

Lisa, thanks for mentioning the Cranky Middle Manager Show. Luda Kopeikina was a terrific guest and really raised some great points. I appreciate your turning your guests on to us.

Are you going to grace our airwaves again soon?


Laurence: Great point! Thanks for sharing the Darwin example, too. Very interesting. Luda did mention the importance of diverse and contrary opinions, although I don't recall if it was one of her major points.

What I found most interesting was the notion of how one gets to become a mature decision maker. The idea that you can operate in a calm and focused manner in the face of many challenges (where less mature leaders tend to flip out).

Wayne - Anytime!

Lots of people "think" they are allowing diverse and contrary opinions. That's what makes actually doing it so hard. Experts, top executives (and even top scientists) are so sure they are allowing diverse and contrary opinions that they won't allow anyone to question if it is true. It's one dynamic in groupthink.

Churchill thought getting contrary observations was so critical that he created a special group in his circle of advisors who were charged "only" with presenting disconfirming evidence.

I wonder if she found that same type of group in GE's structure?

Great question, Laurence! I love the idea of actively seeking opposing points of view. I have a chapter about it in Focus Like a Laser Beam called Invite a Challenge. Managers who make a point of seeking contrary ideas, concerns, and candid feedback will make better decisions and create better and more robust plans.

Laurence...Have I told you lately that I love your sassiness!

That sounds like a great subject for your book on focus (creating a challenge... not being sassy).

I think that is the acid test of mature leaders. If you don't find very strong evidence of the leader seeking contrary ideas and candid feedback... they probably have a "maturity" deficit.

BTW she make a great point about "trying to convince a boss to be clear." My book shows managers how to "read between the lines" and "negotiate the expectations" so they can start their execution with a clear direction even when the boss isn't clear.

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