Byron's Babbles

Safe Disagreement

  I talk a lot about how leaders have to provide safe places for those we serve. This safety is most important when related to disagreement and discourse. I wrote extensively about this in Civilized Disdain Vs. Political Correctness. In Lesson #36 of The Disciplined Leader John Manning (2015) tackles this subject. Manning (2015) argues healthy work cultures demand disagreement, which creates viable possibilities for ingenuity, change, and progress. As a leader is up to us to create a safe environment for discourse and be comfortable with opposition and debate, knowing full well the result is sharper analysis and well-crafted ideas. 

 I believe creating a safe environment for disagreement considers civilized disdain, where we allow each other to feel disdain for a person’s or group’s views or beliefs while maintaining respect for the human beings that hold them. Then, we need to take those difference and through compromise and consensus-building form them into a “best” solution. Organizational learning can certainly be thought of as a discursive practice and it can be argued that disagreement improves learning. Oswick et al (2000), for example, attempt to formulate a more ‘discourse-sensitive’ conceptualization using the idea of dialogue. This position is cooberated by Senge (1990) who argued dialogue represents an important part of the learning process and they attempt to formulate a more sophisticated analysis of organizational dialogues using a discourse analytical framework.

Are you creating an environment of learning that is safe for discourse and disagreement?

Reference

Manning, John (2015). The disciplined leader: keeping the focus on what really matters. Berrett-Koehler Publishers. Kindle Edition

Oswick, C., Anthony, P., Keenoy, T. and Mangham, I.L. (2000) A dialogic analysis of organizational learning. Journal of Management Studies, 37(6): 888-901.
Senge, P. (1990) The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization.
London: Century.

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