Matt over at SvN points me to the keynote address from this year’s MIT Sports Analytics Conference, which, on the surface, probably isn’t the first thing you’ll be Googling for in the morning. But despite it being moderated by Michael Lewis and featuring an a pretty good panel, it gets very interesting at about 20 minutes in. That’s the point when Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey, in fairly blunt terms, explains how he cannot stand working with people who don’t stand up for their own thoughts and opinions:
You have to have a culture where there’s no bad idea and people aren’t afraid to bring them up. I want the people who work with me to have very, very strong opinions. And I get really mad if I make the first argument against and they’re immediately like, “Oh yeah, maybe you’re right.” That drives me nuts.
This reminds me of the paradox of the wannabe progressive company: its leaders say they want people who will openly disagree and defend their opinions, but when that happens, egos are bruised and positions threatened and reputations tested. Touchy-feely concept goes out the window when it gets down to bare metal. The fact is most companies say this is how they operate because it sounds good in press releases and HR magazine interviews, but really can’t abide it in daily practice. I’ve seen it time and again, and you probably have, too. And if you say it as a talking point, it’s not part of your culture, and if it’s not part of your culture, you have no business saying it.
This is why I work where I do: when the partners here say to speak my mind, they mean it. How often do you hear about a new employee being taken behind closed doors and told to speak up more, not less? That happened to me, right here at MIPRO, about four months into my job. And it was due: my previous job taught me political maneuvering and the fine art of watching what you say, neither of which are recognized talents here at MIPRO. This company, for better or worse, embraced the idea that healthy dissent provides a litmus test for idea and opinions, and so far it has worked marvelously, without penalty, every time. Yes, things can get heated and not all opinions are winners, but everyone has a chance to speak their piece. When all is said and done, we walk out of the conference room unified, completely behind the chosen approach.
The best part? This mindset trickles down to clients. As a consulting company, we pledge to tell our clients what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. Since we’ve been in business, clients have praised our ability to do this, sometimes in emphatic terms, more than anything else. And when you’re paying for our expertise and guidance, isn’t that what you expect?
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