Chapter 7. Who Are Dissenters?

Dissenters can be an exciting source of innovation, but they can also cause problems for managers who need to manage other people and processes. This chapter will examine the characteristics of dissenters and how to differentiate between genuine dissent and troublemaking.

The Role of the Dissenter

There are two kinds of dissenters you want in your organization. The first are those who, while generally committed to the company's direction, will speak up when things are going wrong. As we've discussed in the last two chapters, these dissenters are easy to suppress because they're often politically savvy enough to chose their personal popularityover saving the organization from itself.

But there is another kind of dissenter who is also valuable, often exactly because he's hard to shut down. They are natural dissenters, people often at odds with management. They keep raising issues everyone else would prefer to keep decently buried. Such as "Why have we priced our products so that those who need them most can least afford them?" Or "Why does Ops have the lion's share of the people when the push is on R&D"? Or "How is it that our competitors are more successful even though our managers are slave drivers"? They consistently speak truth to power even if power isn't all that interested in listening. But while difficult at work, many dissenters also have brought us great innovations.

Galileo is my personal fave because he was such a huge pain in the neck and his ...

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