Divided We Stand?

With a divided government now in Washington, it is going to take a blending of ideas from the Left and the Right to move policy forward over the next two years. Whether this can happen politically remains to be seen, but from a management standpoint, opposing perspectives offer potential for progress.

Peter Drucker found inspiration in the clash of ideas. He wrote that “in an effective discussion . . . you need dissent; but you have to make it productive.” He went on to say, “All the first-rate decision-makers I’ve observed had a very simple rule . . . If you have quick consensus on an important matter, don’t make the decision. Acclamation means nobody has done the homework.”

In Washington, each party thinks it has a lock on what makes sense for the nation. Perhaps good ideas exist within their dissenting positions, and both sides need to step back to consider the other’s perspective. To this point, Drucker cited Mary Parker Follet who advised that, “when you have dissent in an organization, you should never ask who is right. You should not even ask what is right. You must assume that each faction gives the right answer.”

Are you at all hopeful that a divided government can produce the kind of good ideas and action borne of dissent? Or is the partisanship in Washington too extreme to bridge the divide?