This article will dive deeper into the second set of technology tenets discussed in building a high-performing technology organization. I recommend you read that article first to get level-set on the basic principles that we will discuss further here. And, if you like, you can also catch-up on my deeper dive into the first set of technology tenets. That said, lets go right into the second set:
- Insist on honest disagreement, vigorous debate and commitment to a decision once made; do not prioritize social cohesion (but don’t be an asshole either).
- Appoint Single Threaded Leaders (STLs) for uniquely critical projects; part-time work yields part-time results
- Insist on documentation as an integral component of every project; a project cannot be in production if robust documentation was not created
Insist on Honest Disagreement
First, by coincidence I recently heard a great podcast about the importance of disagreement in the workplace to drive great performance that I highly recommend. It touches on some of the ideas I will share here for you to think about further.
Disagreement is something that humans generally find unpleasant; we are driven to prioritize “social cohesion” by avoiding conflict. But the avoidance of conflict — or better said debate — does not allow for the vigorous and healthy exchange of ideas that drives the synthesize of a far better decision than what a single person can think of on his or her own. In writing this tenet I purposely included the word ‘honest’ because productive disagreement is not about “winning” or “proving you are right”; it is driven by the desire to find the best possible decision (e.g., solution to a problem). “Honest disagreement” requires every participant to honestly consider the point of view of every other participant so as to find the best synthesize of ideas. When done correctly, this tenet leads to a vigorous give and take of ideas; with each participant providing a full account of why their idea has merit for discussion and inclusion into the decision to be made, and each participant actively listening to the ideas of others to honestly weigh their value.