Friday, January 04, 2008

Listening to dissent stops automatic thinking

Recently, I was working with a colleague on an order we were about to place with a supplier. We had had some issues with this supplier's performance, but they had been resolved. Anyway, that had been weeks earlier and I was looking ahead to what we needed next. One morning I got an email from my colleague answering some questions I had about the order.

But at the end of this email, he wrote something that really stopped me in my tracks. He wrote: should we continue using this supplier?

Despite the troubles, I hadn't even considered replacing them. As I spent the next few hours thinking about my colleague's question, it occurred to me that this is one of the values of dissent: it helps stop automatic thinking.

I was ready to go ahead and place the order and the response from my colleague made me stop and think. We talked, my colleague and I, and decided the order should go ahead, but in addition, we put together a list of the concerns we had, and asked the supplier to respond to them before the next order shipped. Looking back, I was glad my colleague raised his voice. And I was glad I listened.

spoken through SpinVox