Chapter 6. Surprising Ways to Suppress Dissent

There are some less obvious ways to suppress dissent that will surprise managers who do not realize that the road to efficiency and productivity may lead away from innovation and creativity.


In the last chapter, we talked about how fragile situational dissent can be and how desirable it is to keep dissent at that level. Some managers act in unpleasant and unproductive ways that have the added disadvantage of suppressing dissent. But some positive things can also inhibit dissent. This chapter will focus on them. We'll talk about the dangers of best practices, the downsides of treating everyone equally, the drawbacks of people with your values, and the pitfalls of designing a process to capture good ideas.

The Dangers of Best Practices

Most organizations I go into have some kind of "best practices" effort. Those that don't are sort of embarrassed and assure me it's next on their list.

"Best practices" has become a catchall phrase for part of knowledge management. If someone has already made the mistakes and figured out the tricks of doing something, it is foolish not to build on that experience. We all want to profit from past mistakes and avoid future ones. But I have come to believe that the value of best practices may be more limited than we'd like to believe.

Best practices in most organizations is a fairly sterile and systematized process. Typically, part of a company's Intranet is devoted to it. Employees are exhorted to ...

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