Disagree and commit is the principle that employees be given an opportunity to disagree to a proposed decision but that they commit once the decision has been made. The following are illustrative examples.
Leadership DecisionsDisagree and commit works in an environment where leaders make decisions in consultation with stakeholders and subject matter experts. This can be contrasted with consensus decision making such as a committee where disagreements are more likely to shape the decision in order to obtain agreement. The latter approach risks the abilene paradox whereby decisions become irrational because they reflect social comprises as opposed to rational thought.
Bottom-up IdeasDisagree and commit doesn't preclude bottom-up idea origination. For example, leadership could adopt ideas proposed by a customer, partner or low level employee.
Resistance to ChangeResistance to change is the common tendency for organizations to defend the status quo and to assume that the way things have been can't change. Disagree and commit is a common leadership method for reducing resistance to change by making all stakeholders feel like part of the decision making process whereby they are able to openly express opposition to change. This may or may not influence programs of change that stakeholders are ultimately asked to support.
DefeatismDefeatism occurs when pessimism about strategy or decisions interferes with duty or performance. For example, a business unit that demands problematic requirements of a project as a means to try to derail it. The principle of disagree and commit makes it clear that defeatism isn't acceptable in an organizational culture. For example, agents of change may be given greater authority and defeatists may be sidelined.
NotesThe principle of disagree and commit mostly applies to employees as an employer might reasonably ask an employee to commit to strategy. In some cases, it may apply to other stakeholders such as partners whereby you require partners to commit to a new policy after a period of feedback and review.
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