Principles: Table of Work Principles 5 and 6 (part 11 of 14)

5. Believability Weight Your Decision Making

  1. Recognize that having an effective idea meritocracy requires that you understand the merit of each person’s ideas.
    • If you can’t successfully do something, don’t think you can tell others how it should be done.
    • Remember that everyone has opinions and they are often bad.
  2. Find the most believable people possible who disagree wth you and try to understand their reasoning.
    • Think about people’s believability in order to assess the likelihood that their opinions are good.
    • Remember that believable opinions are most likely to come from people 1) who have successfully accomplished the thing in question at least three times, and 2) who have great explanations of the cause-effect relationships that lead them to their conclusions.
    • If someone hasn’t done something but has a theory that seems logical and can be stress-tested, then by all means test it.
    • Don’t pay as much attention to people’s conclusions as to the reasoning that led them to their conclusions.
    • Inexperienced people can have great ideas too, sometimes far better ones than more experienced people.
    • Everyone should be up-front in expressing how confident they are in their thoughts.
  3. Think about whether you are playing the role of teacher, a student, or a peer and whether you should be teaching, asking questions, or debating. 
    • It’a more important that the student understand the teacher than that the teacher understand the student, though both are important.
    • Recognize that while everyone has the right and responsibility to try to make sense of important things, they must do so with humility and radical open-mindedness.
  4. Understand how people come by their opinions
    • If you ask someone a question, they will probably give you an answer, so thin through to whom you should address your questions.
    • Having everyone randomly probe everyone else is an unproductive waste of time.
    • Beware of statements that begin with “I think that …”
    • Assess believability by systematically capturing people’s track records over time.
  5. Disagreeing must be done efficiently
    • Know when to stop debating and move on to agreeing about what should be done.
    • Use believability weighting as a tool rathe than a substitute for decision making by Responsible Parties.
    • Since you don’t have the time to thoroughly examine everyone’s thinking yourself, choose your believable people wisely.
    • When you’re responsible for a decision, compare the believability-weighted decision making of the crowd to what you believe.
  6. Recognize that everyone has the right and responsibility to try to make sense of important things.
    • Communications aimed at getting the best answer should involve the most relevant people.
    • Communication aimed at educating or boosting cohesion should involve a broader set of people than would be need if the aim were just getting the best answer.
    • Recognize that you don’t need to make judgments about everything.
  7. Pay more attention to whether the decision-making system is fair than whether you get your way.

6. Recognize how to Get Beyond Disagreements

  1. Remember: Principles can’t be ignored by mutual agreement
    • The same standards of behavior apply to everyone
  2. Make suer people don’t confuse the right to complain, give advice, and openly debate with the right to make decisions.
    • When challenging a decision and/or a decision maker, consider the broader context.
  3. Don’t leave important conflicts unresolved.
    • Don’t let the little things divide you when your agreement on the big things should bind you.
    • Don’t get stuck in disagreement – escalate or vote!
  4. Once a diction is made, everyone should get behind it even though individuals my still disagree.
    • See things from the higher level.
    • Never allow the idea meritocracy to slip into anarchy.
    • Don’t allow lynch mobs or mob rule.
  5. Remember that if the idea meritocracy comes into conflict with the well-being of the organization, it will inevitably suffer.
    • Declare “martial law” only in rare or extreme circumstances when the principles need to be suspended.
    • Be wary of people who argue for the suspension of the idea meritocracy for the “good of the organization.”