In the book Zig Zig: The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity, Keith Sawyer tells how the CEO of the Citrin Group, Jon Citrin assigns one person to be the “Blocker” in every meeting. “The Blocker’s job is to disagree with everything Citrin says. The result? Serious debate, and deep consideration of the issues. And best of all, it inhibits everyone’s natural instinct to always agree with the boss.”
Now, fortunately, I work in a division where people do not feel any natural instinct to always agree with me, so I’m safe on the job front. But I think it wouldn’t hurt to have a personal blocker. After all, it’s easy to get tied to an idea and not see all sides of it. And especially if we’re one of those who get a little huffy when contradicted, people may be hesitant to tell us the holes in our plans.
After all, we’re still in charge of our lives. If we decide our blocker is wrong, then we can proceed as planned. But I know in my life, a clear signal that I haven’t thought things through is my anger with someone who disagrees with me. But usually, I do end up listening and realize the concerns were also some of my own, just unvoiced and repressed deep into the darkest recesses of my brain.
Sure, it’s good to have cheerleaders urging us on, but it’s also useful to have someone who says, “Wait a minute. Have you considered . . .?”