Re: Boring firms `are killing creativity' in the workplace

Eric Bohlman (
Sat, 10 Dec 1994 15:51:44 -0800 (PST)

> I did not mean to imply that dramatic actions should not strive for
> consensus. The reality in my experience is that firms that flourish have
> the benefit of a leader who selects tough choices and pushes on in spite
> of dissidents, demanding their loyalty and support along the way. I would not
> classify such an organization as "boring"...
> --
> Keith Cowan Phone: (416)565-6253 FAX: (905)764-9604

How can an individual "demand" loyalty? One can inspire loyalty, or earn
loyalty, but all that one can *demand* is compliance, often of a very
surface nature. Often this compliance takes the form of telling the boss
what he wants to hear, even when you know better.

There are actually two different meanings of "consensus." The popular
meaning is that "everyone agrees with the decision." Except for the most
superficial decisions, this hardly ever really happens, though there may
be an *appearance* that it does.

The second, less-used meaning is that everyone *understands* the
decision, though they may not fully agree with it, and everyone goes
along with the decision because everyone had a chance to contribute their
opinions and have them truly *listened* to, even if not all the opinions
made it into the final decision. Most "normal" people understand that
they aren't always going to be able to get their *way*, but they do
expect that they're going to be able to have their *say*. In this type
of consensus, people go along with the decision because they *trust* the
process by which the decision was reached, even if they have some
misgivings. If they perceive that the decision was created by a
trustworthy process in which they played a part, they'll do their best to
implement it. If they perceive that the decision was jammed down their
throats, on the other hand, they'll simply give it lip service.

Gerald Weinberg's *The Psychology of Computer Programming* has a lot to
say about false (i.e. superficial) consensus, complete with some rather
amusing horror stories. (Eric Bohlman)