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“Disagree and Commit”


May 2017


Process, Quotable

From Jeff Bezos’ shareholder letter as covered by Recode:

I really like the idea of Jeff Bezos’ disagree and commit culture.
There are times where it’s impossible to find consensus as companies grow, and having a mantra like disagree and commit – where you or your co-worker is asking “I know you disagree with me, but can you put that aside, trust me, and help me?” can really be a powerful tool for company culture.

Third, use the phrase “disagree and commit.” This phrase will save a lot of time. If you have conviction on a particular direction even though there’s no consensus, it’s helpful to say, “Look, I know we disagree on this but will you gamble with me on it? Disagree and commit?” By the time you’re at this point, no one can know the answer for sure, and you’ll probably get a quick yes.

I also like how he caveats that it isn’t a step back approach where you’re hoping that your co-worker fails in order to prove a point. In committing you’re sincerely giving your aid to help as best as you can so you can all succeed.

Note what this example is not: it’s not me thinking to myself “well, these guys are wrong and missing the point, but this isn’t worth me chasing.” It’s a genuine disagreement of opinion, a candid expression of my view, a chance for the team to weigh my view, and a quick, sincere commitment to go their way. And given that this team has already brought home 11 Emmys, 6 Golden Globes, and 3 Oscars, I’m just glad they let me in the room at all!