Everyone is entitled to an opinion. My mother would argue that only her opinion matters. Well, that’s my mother. I LOVE diverse opinions. When I hear an opinion that differs from mine, it forces me to think about my own assumptions and preconceived ideas. It opens up possibilities and creates an opportunity for dialogue and debate, the cornerstone of innovation.
I sometimes hear that we should control the public opinions of others. On some matters that’s justified. Avoiding panic in a life or death situation falls into this category. But debate about engineering practices and methods of work are fair game and diversity of opinion asks us to THINK. When a whole team is headed in one direction and that brave lone voice says, “you know, I don’t agree, we should go the other way.” Those are the moments when we start to question basic assumptions and attitudes. Lone voices and oddballs are what make great things happen. Howard Hughes is a good example of someone who listened to himself and made a dent in the world. Encourage this in your teams and in your organizations. Endless debate is wasteful, but healthy disagreement is what drives clarity in thinking.
Don’t judge, Don’t squelch. Explore and innovate instead!