Build a Culture Open to Debate

James Walpole/ April 27, 2019

Our company is not shy about debating. If there is an issue, it usually gets raised – and publicly.

“I’m not sure about this subject line.”

“We should rework the copy on this page of the website.”

“This dashboard functionality doesn’t do what it promises.”

These critiques come from every area of the company – not just the “relevant department.”

I love it and hate it, of course. It’s always more fun to give critiques than to receive them. But I realize that if I’m willing to dish it out, I’ve got to be willing to take it. A culture of free and open debate isn’t for the faint of heart.

And when I think about our company as a whole, I see clearly that debates keep us healthy – and keep us from making stupid decisions.

Anyone can propose an idea. Anyone can challenge a way of doing things. Anyone can say to “upper management” why an idea is not good.

This debate culture encourages general participation from the company in the growth of the business. When a new employee sees people from our risk management team asking questions and making a critique of marketing, for instance, it makes them trust that they’re in a place that *wants* them to think about marketing.

This debate culture also demands rigorous thinking from its members. Anyone who wishes to raise a point must know that they have to make a good argument or else lose a bit of credibility. Opinions and assertions are not enough. The clear thinking for argumentation transfers over to building products and companies – probably preventing the need for arguments about decisions later.

Finally, debate does require some courage. but in knowing that they can safely challenge others within the company, our employees learn the courage to tackle problems and assumptions outside of the company as well. This leads all in all to a workforce made of stronger, bolder people. And you know what stronger, bolder people do?

They take risks. They innovate. And they persist.

Photo by Headway on Unsplash

James Walpole

James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, and perpetual apprentice. You're reading his blog right now, and he really appreciates it. Don't let it go to his head, though.

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