The Internal Conflict: Yes Man vs. No Man

By Keith Murray  Organizations rarely have control over the external conversation of their brand. There will always be the naysayers, complainers, haters, and doubters and even though most of this outside chatter is not constructive, companies can still learn and grow from listening. But, how much of constructive disagreement takes place internally?

In the movie Yes Man, Jim Carrey’s character, Carl Allen, attends a “Yes!” seminar in which he is instructed to say ‘yes’ to everything that is presented to him. This seems very far-fetched but then again, it is Hollywood after all.

HINT: Businesses should not follow the model of a “Yes Man.”

Margaret Heffernan, former CEO of five businesses, describes in her recent TED talk, Dare to Disagree, that organizations need to encourage internal disagreement. She wants companies to have systems in place that calls for constructive disagreements during meetings and brainstorms. In the workplace, Heffernan points out that there is too much conflict avoidance taking place. Employees do not want to cause any internal conflict among one another, especially with the higher ups in the firm, but times are different.

Voice your opinions, thoughts, and rebuttals. It shows you know how to critically think and this is what companies want. Heffernan says it the best, “A fantastic model of collaboration: thinking partners who aren't echo chambers.”

Here are 3 ways to get the internal disagreement flowing for an overall better marketing strategy:

1. There is no such thing as a bad idea. At Likeable Media, this rule is in place and it helps to ensure every idea is worth hearing. Would I be lying if I said there haven’t been some outlandish ideas? Of course. But even the outlandish ideas are worth sharing. They can spark a fellow employee’s “light bulb” to go off and they can add onto the idea to make it work. When planning your next marketing strategy, remember to get everyone involved. Every idea has value.

2. Invite new faces to the party. Every company has different departments, different people, and different roles. Why not invite them to the brainstorm? Gathering ideas across these channels and people will shed light to a different perspective to the task at hand. Don’t limit yourselves. Invite the managers, the interns, the sales team, and the creative team. You will see better results by getting feedback on your current marketing strategy, encouraging constructive criticism and receive fresh ideas on how to make your next marketing strategy better.

3. Devil’s Advocate. During each strategy meeting, designate a different employee to play Devil’s Advocate. This will allow those quiet employees that undergo too much conflict avoidance to actually disagree. This can help find the holes and deficiencies in a marketing strategy because instead of having a “Yes Man”, you will be able to see the other side of things that can lead to better ideas. With the Devil’s Advocate pointing out potential holes in your marketing strategy, mistakes will be caught and curbed early on, leaving more time to focus on other components of the strategy.

Bonus - Pandora’s Box. At Likeable Media, each month employees are able to submit questions anonymously in which our CEO, Dave Kerpen, addresses all questions. We don’t know who asks what questions but it allows for everyone the opportunity to have a voice. It is not always smooth sailing during this time, but the main thing learned is that addressing conflict in a constructive, controllable manner is doable and effective.

Does your company encourage internal disagreement? What are other ways to get internal disagreement flowing? Let us know in the comments below!