Graham🐝 Edwards

5 years ago · 1 min. reading time · visibility ~10 ·

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The way of the contrarian...

I was reminded a couple of days ago that I am a contrarian; it was not the first time and usually not meant as a compliment. For those not familiar with the word, a contrarian is a person who takes an opposite or different position from other people - And this reminds me of a story - 

The way of the contrarian...

Many years ago, in a land far away, there was a very prosperous city state that was the envy of all.  The city was ruled by a council of eleven wise elders and all city decisions were their responsibility, including ruling on any disputes or crimes that came before them; majority ruled on all decisions with each of the eleven elders having a vote. One day a man accused of a heinous crime was brought before the council and after hearing the story, each of the elders voted guilty. At that point, the wisest of the elders announced the final judgment of the council; the accused man was to be set free. In disbelief, the on-lookers shouted their disapproval and wanted to understand how such a ruling could be made.

The wisest of the elders stood and explained that when all of the members of the council agreed, they believed that there was a common bias that existed among them, that they were looking at the situation through the same eyes, and they had not uncovered the unknown details that would make for the best decision - In short, when they all agree, they have made a flawed decision.  

The strength in making better decisions lies with  contrary discussions, differing positions, ideas and different ways of thinking; with the contrarian acting as the facilitator. Being referred to as a contrarian is a good thing, a necessary thing...

  • They will help you pressure test your thinking to ensure it is sound.
  • They challenge groupthink. 
  • They help look at a situation in a different way.
  • They remind us that everyone thinking the same way does not necessarily make for good decisions.
  • They help advocate and adapt to change.
  • They introduce new ideas.

I knew a CEO who designated a person, as part of their role, to always challenge his strategic thinking... to be that executive contrarian . His rationale was simple, if his thinking could not stand up to the rigors of the board room, how could it ever stand up in the real world.

Embrace those people who don't agree with you, hear them out, encourage the discussion... your thinking will be better for it, and most likely your decisions.

Wouldn't you agree?

iamgpe

www.gpestratagem.com 


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Comments

Devesh 🐝 Bhatt

4 years ago #42

Bias is generated through presumptive labelling. Like water on rock the majority persist with a word, in this case contrarian and wait for the person to lose consistency. Soon the focus is not conversation but consistency and if the so called contrarian surrenders to this world view and also focuses on consistency, the possibility of becoming biased becomes even more evident. How convenient it is to name one contrarian and avoid the acceptance of Bias among all. Soon an objective person is brainwashed into being a biased contrarian. This story has a contrarian elder, a position of authority, what if it was the junior most in the hierarchy?

Graham🐝 Edwards

5 years ago #41

#56
Thanks for the comment and your perspectives Jackie Pantaliano. They are appreciated.

Graham🐝 Edwards

5 years ago #40

Thanks of the note Deb Lange. You are right new perspective are like new windows to look out of.

Graham🐝 Edwards

5 years ago #39

As a contrarian @Charlie Accetta, I would have to say "no I wouldn't"... : )

Graham🐝 Edwards

5 years ago #38

Thanks for the comment James O'Connell. I knew a leader who used to raise his hand and say "RED ALERT" and then offer his perspective.

Harvey Lloyd

5 years ago #37

#46
Absolutely. Although painful sometimes to the dream it has valuable info imprinted.

Graham🐝 Edwards

5 years ago #36

#44
Thanks for the comment Franci Eugenia Hoffman

Graham🐝 Edwards

5 years ago #35

#43
Thanks for the comment Harvey Lloyd... sometimes I don't want to know what's on the other side but I do know it's important so I always "grin" and flip over the coin.

Graham🐝 Edwards

5 years ago #34

#42
Thanks for the comment Kevin Pashuk... I definitely will check out that post.

Without people that disagree or are of another opinion, where would we be? Think about it. Interesting post, Graham.

Harvey Lloyd

5 years ago #32

I have always understood that we do not live on a one dimensional plane. There are always two sides to the coin. "Contrarian" describes the other side of the coin. Regardless of which side it's always the opposite. I believe that Attorneys consistently build the other attorneys case before working on their own. This is probably why people don't enjoy the experience. They have to listen to what the other attorney is going to do. Great piece Graham Edwards. But until we discover that we do live on a one dimensional plane i always want to know what's on the other side.

Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago #31

You have a much more succinct way to say things Graham. I took far longer with my post "Grandma's House, Hockey, and Sh*t Disturbers". I eventually came to the same point you did, only instead of a contrarian, I called them 'Effluent Agitators'.

Graham🐝 Edwards

5 years ago #30

Thank you for you comment DILMA BALBI

Graham🐝 Edwards

5 years ago #29

#38
Thanks very much for the comment John Valledor.

don kerr

5 years ago #28

Joel Anderson I am so going to liberate the Oscar Wilde quote from you! It was unknown to me and now it has become so meaningful to me. Thanks so much.

Graham🐝 Edwards

5 years ago #27

#35
Thanks for the comment Joel Anderson. I really like the Oscar Wilde quote...

Joel Anderson

5 years ago #26

Whether your subscribe to Robert Anston Wilson's views or not, he does provide some interesting insights. "...Every fact of science was once Damned. Every invention was considered impossible. Every discovery was a nervous shock to some orthodoxy. Every artistic innovation was denounced as fraud and folly. The entire web of culture and "progress," everything on earth that is man-made and not given to us by nature, is the concrete manifestation of some man's refusal to bow to Authority. We would own no more, know no more, and be no more than the first apelike hominids if it were not for the rebellious, the recalcitrant, and the intransigent. As Oscar Wilde truly said, "Disobedience was man's Original Virtue."..."

Graham🐝 Edwards

5 years ago #25

Thanks for the comment . There is always an interesting feeling that comes with "OMG, I didn't even think of that"... then we all get more excited and keep moving forward. I found with me that when it really resonates my eyes get "wider"... lol

Graham🐝 Edwards

5 years ago #24

#16
Thanks for the comment Chas Wyatt. I suspect Kodak would beg to differ... if only someone in their management group said digital photography will make film obsolete (and the funny thing is they held the technology) but their group think about old school film was so strong. I will say having a contrarian involved in developing your selling (commercial) strategy is crucial. As for "presidencies," I will just stay on this side of the border and watch... I simply love US politics!

Graham🐝 Edwards

5 years ago #23

#15
Thanks for the comment Jim Murray. Sorry about the head...

Graham🐝 Edwards

5 years ago #22

#14
Thanks Adrian Moores. Adrian is new to beBee and he's a great guy... although we don't really get along. : )

Graham🐝 Edwards

5 years ago #21

#13
Thanks for the comment and insight Kevin Pashuk

Graham🐝 Edwards

5 years ago #20

#12
Well at least Kevin Pashuk

Graham🐝 Edwards

5 years ago #19

#11
I appreciate the support Kevin Pashuk

Graham🐝 Edwards

5 years ago #18

#10
Thanks Phil Friedman!

Graham🐝 Edwards

5 years ago #17

#9
Thanks for the comment Randy Keho. And yes, "smartassedness"(sp) is a subtype of contrarianism and is measured on a special scale based on sarcasm and wit. Also everyone please be nicer to Randy.

Graham🐝 Edwards

5 years ago #16

#8
Thanks of the comment Nicholas Fester

Graham🐝 Edwards

5 years ago #15

#7
Thanks for the link Joel Anderson. I will check into it!

Graham🐝 Edwards

5 years ago #14

#6
Set your latent contrarianism free and thanks for the comment Don Kerr

Graham🐝 Edwards

5 years ago #13

#5
Thanks for your comment Julie Hickman

Graham🐝 Edwards

5 years ago #12

#4
Thanks for the comment and Insight of the contrarian (and when it is time to "run") Jim Lenihan

Graham🐝 Edwards

5 years ago #11

#3
Thanks for the comment Phillip Hubbell. You are absolutely right that a contrarian should be offering their perspective based on conviction, thought and conviction. I totally agree !

Graham🐝 Edwards

5 years ago #10

#2
Thanks very much for sharing Donna-Luisa Eversley

Graham🐝 Edwards

5 years ago #9

#1
Thanks very much for the comments Andrea Dale. I totally agree that everyone needs to be aligned with objectives, outcomes and understand rich (and respectful) discussion leads to a better out come.

Jim Murray

5 years ago #8

I disagree. Just kidding. No seriously I do. Good post...look what you have done to my head.

Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago #7

Seriously though Graham... there is a vital role for a contrarian, as long as s/he has the best interests of the organization or relationship in mind... otherwise they are just a**holes if their primary purpose is to be contrary.

Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago #6

#9
Graham Edwards... as long as you are willing to discuss it... so therefore we don't have to be nice.

Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago #5

In order to support you Graham Edwards I'm going to have to disagree with you... which in this case is ironic don't you think?

Phil Friedman

5 years ago #4

@ Randy Keho. Kudos. And cheers

Randy Keho

5 years ago #3

Hear that guys? You're now required to be nice to me. I have just one question for clarification purposes. Does a smartass qualify as a contrarian? If not, then forget it. Go back to doing whatever it was you were doing. Don Kerr

Joel Anderson

5 years ago #2

Graham Edwards in Adam Grant's book Original: How Non-Conformist Move the World https://www.amazon.com/Originals-How-Non-Conformists-Move-World/dp/0525429565#reader_0525429565 you just might find other positive examples of the contrarian spirit.

don kerr

5 years ago #1

Every organization and everybody needs a burr under the saddle. Well said Graham Edwards I have been accused of having few effective filters and hence get told to f&(k off even on the Lumpy Kingdom (a.k.a. LinkedIn). I don't think it is a lack of filtration​. I think it may be latent contrarianism!

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