Two methods, somewhat brutal, to elicit views from everyone at a meeting

A review in the Economist, July 2, 2011 at 74, of a book by William Rhodes, a prominent banker, picked up on Rhodes’ methods to bring a roomful of disparate interests to a consensus: “keeping people awake until they will agree to just about anything, for example, or forcing everyone at the table to state their positions on each issue.” Sleep deprivation doesn’t appeal to me as an effective method.

Nor do I think the ranking lawyer, often the general counsel, should state a position early on in a discussion. That can create a dampening effect on discussion, let alone opposition (See my post of Feb. 1, 2006: how to lessen peer pressure and the general counsel chill; Dec. 8, 2006: as a general counsel, encourage different viewpoints; April 17, 2007: silence at Town Halls; Jan. 4, 2009: electronic voting software helps surface difficult issues that are otherwise suppressed; Jan. 9, 2009: ideas are suppressed around a general counsel; July 14, 2009: the false consensus effect of intimidated subordinates; July 22, 2009: chill effect of dominance; and May 25, 2010: futility, not fear, stops people from speaking truth to power.).

As for insisting that everyone weigh in on an important decision, I like the idea but it can wind up to huge pressure and lots of me-tooism.

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