Disagree and Commit
Recently, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, published a letter to shareholders, in which he shared a number of lessons for those seeking to achieve organizational excellence.
One piece of advice contained in the letter can best be distilled into three impactful words:
“Disagree and commit.”
Here’s what Jeff Bezos had to say about these three words in his letter:
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 disagree and commit all the time. We recently greenlit a particular Amazon Studios original. I told the team my view: debatable whether it would be interesting enough, complicated to produce, the business terms aren’t that good, and we have lots of other opportunities.
They had a completely different opinion and wanted to go ahead. I wrote back right away with “I disagree and commit and hope it becomes the most watched thing we’ve ever made.”
Consider how much slower this decision cycle would have been if the team had actually had to convince me rather than simply get my commitment.
According to Bezos, when we disagree and commit, it does not mean we believe our point of view is wrong.
Rather, Bezos writes, “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.”
How willing are you to disagree and commit, and to let it be someone else’s way? Particularly in situations where it is safe (OK) to fail?
To disagree and commit requires that leaders step out of their own comfort zone, and to genuinely commit by providing the necessary resources for a project’s success. There is no room for sabotage here, or waiting in the wings to say “I told you so”.
This is about being willing to take a chance, and trusting that others may have different ideas and approaches. When we let our team run with their ideas, we develop their confidence and contribute to their ongoing growth and development.
Where might you be willing to disagree and commit, both at work and at home?