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Using The Power of Debate to Energize Your Employees

Using The Power of Debate to Energize Your Employees
Of course, there needs to be a sharp line drawn between "criticism" and "debate." As a rule of thumb, all criticism should be handled in private, behind closed doors. Personal criticism can be dangerous, and that's why any criticism should be based on the merit of the underlying idea.


Key Ideas

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Giving Employees A Voice

One of the best ways to get the very best ideas for your organization and tap into the power of the crowd is by encouraging active debate at all levels of the organization



How To Encourage Debate

At McKinsey, you are supposed to feel profoundly unsettled if people around you are not engaged in debate, challenging your ideas. Junior-level staffers are empowered to challenge their senior advisors, as long as it helps to create a more innovative solution. 


Criticism ≠ Debate

To ensure that the best ideas really do win, you can encourage employees to debate with facts and data, rather than with personal criticism. 

Steve Jobs of Apple has compared the process of organizational debate to a rock tumbler, in which the process of grinding up rocks makes a lot of noise and friction, but what comes out is beautiful and refined. 


Getting Comfortable With Debate

Without practice and encouragement, debate is uncomfortable.

Establish a “permission zone” that empowers your people with the freedom to confront the hard topics and the confidence to challenge assumptions in how your organization “always” does things. This change in perspective results in massive new opportunities to elevate your business. 



Reasons for constructing a good argument

How should we evaluate arguments that people make to persuade us? And how should we construct our own arguments to be the most effective?

At its core, an argument consists of a conclus...

Structure of a well-formed argument

It does not use reasons that contradict each other, contradict the conclusion or explicitly or implicitly assumes the truth of the conclusion. Checklist:

  • Does the communication include at least one reason to support the conclusion as being true? If not, it is not an argument, but an opinion.
  • Could any of the key premises be interpreted as making the same claim as the conclusion? If so, then it’s a “circular argument” without independent reason given to support the conclusion.
  • Do any of the premises contradict another premise, or does the conclusion contradict any of the premises?

The relevance of a premise

A premise is relevant if it provides some bearing on the truth of the conclusion. Checklist:

  • If the premise were true, does it make you more likely to believe that the conclusion is true? If yes, the premise is probably relevant.
  • Even if the premise were true, should it be a consideration for accepting the truth of the conclusion? If no, then the premise is probably not relevant.

4 more ideas

“We have a repository of information about a color. For example, the color blue is almost always associated with blue skies, which when we are children is a positive thing — it means playing out...

Color Suggestions

  • Desktop: Green, as it is the bit is restful for eyes and produces the least amount of eyestrain.
  • Work Out Clothes: Orange, the color of stimulation and enthusiasm. 
  • Women’s Dating Clothing: Red, the color of passion and gets blood pumping.
  • Men’s Dating Clothing: Blue to communicate stability and calmness.
  • To Look Aggressive: Black, as research correlates it with higher levels of aggression on sports teams that use it.
  • Office Walls: Blue and Green. Blue can lower heart rates and green reduces anxiety and is associated with money.
  • Work Clothing: Not grey, as it inspires people to be passive, uninvolved and have a lack of energy. 

Research And Color

Research says colors can absolutely affect your mood, behavior and stress levels. It also claims there are generalities that can be gleaned from decades of research on the patterns of what people think about each color but no absolute truth.

On Mental Clutter

Setting clear boundaries between personal and work lives is key to maintaining flow and good mental health. The alternative creates mental clutter, a difficulty to think straight and focus due t...

Set Boundaries

Set clear boundaries regarding conversation topics at home and work—and stick to them. Talking about work at home, or about home at work should be avoided.

Of course, we can share stories of work with family and home life with colleagues, but don’t let these be the only conversations; open up, branch out and let other conversations be born in those spaces.

Cleanse Through Writing

Keep a journal for both work and home where you vent frustrations in order to maintain clear boundaries. By externalizing those feelings, your mental health improves and you are less likely to be overwhelmed.

We enrich our lives when we cleanse our mental spaces. We also open space for more activity, sharper thoughts and creativity.