23 April 2008

Group think: where is your voice?

When I went back to graduate school, one of the things that most impressed me about my mentor (and the chair of my committee) was how much he emphasized that design students learn to have an opinion. He was often asking (at the top of his lungs), “what do YOU believe?”

This is not so much about ego, or the importance of the “you” portion. It is about having a perspective, the courage, and the respect to state that perspective. Those two principles of courage and respect are important to anyone that is on ‘the team.’

The importance of courage is that you are actually earning your keep. In today’s corporation, if you are paid to merely execute someone else’s marching orders you are generally failing to adequately contribute. Group think, or aggregate decisions kill companies quicker than either the economy or the competition. Be good at what you do - do the research and come with your assessment strong.

Further, display respect towards your peers and team members to offer that opinion. Waiting to hear the room and then weighting your perspective towards a safe and adjusted perspective does that team a disservice. You are paid to be good and bring it all to the table. Don’t be meek.