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Tame the Primitive Brain: 28 Ways in 28 Days to Manage the Most Impulsive Behaviors at Work by Mark Bowden

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Day 19

Values

Diverging Opinions

“That was excellently observed,” say I, when I read a passage by an author, where his opinion agrees with mine.

—Jonathan Swift

Today you’ll tame:

  • The subterranean chasms of trust between our groups
An international pharmaceutical company had gathered together both its Swedish and American representatives in the room. The objective was to work out how to align the North American and European strategies to achieve greater profitability.
Before they could make any strategic decisions together, however, one thing became clear: The very meeting tactics by which the two regional groups were attempting to make decisions beneficial to their respective groups and the company as a whole, were in no way aligned.
The Swedes preferred to follow the agenda point by point, each waiting his turn to speak, before reaching consensus via an orderly debate. The U.S. contingent wanted to skip areas that they did not regard as valuable, talk across each other, and then let their leader make a decision.
Consequently, both sides were becoming irritated; the meeting was devolving into dysfunction and disagreement on every point.
The Swedes valued consensus over hierarchy, while the Americans valued hierarchy over consensus. Both had perfectly reasonable ways of coming to a decision, but neither group had experience working in any other way than its own. Thus, neither could trust the other’s process, and so trust the other party.
Putting the two teams together turned ...

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