Managing Dissent

“We need to create the space for what I call managed dissent. If we are to shift paradigms, if we are to make breakthroughs, if we are to destroy myths, we need to create an environment in which expert ideas are battling it out, in which we're bringing in new, diverse, discordant, heretical views into the discussion, fearlessly, in the knowledge that progress comes about, not only from the creation of ideas, but also from their destruction—and also from the knowledge that, by surrounding ourselves by divergent, discordant, heretical views, all the research now shows us that this actually makes us smarter.

Encouraging dissent is a rebellious notion because it goes against our very instincts, which are to surround ourselves with opinions and advice that we already believe or want to be true. And that's why I talk about the need to actively manage dissent.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt is a practical practitioner of this philosophy. In meetings, he looks out for the person in the room—arms crossed, looking a bit bemused—and draws them into the discussion, trying to see if they indeed are the person with a different opinion, so that they have dissent within the room. Managing dissent is about recognizing the value of disagreement, discord and difference.”

~ Noreena Hertz, from “How to Use Experts and When Not to,” TED Talks, Nov. 2010