I heard a great quote on a recent podcast from highly successful tech entrepreneur Marc Andreessen.
The position Marc adopts in meetings and discussions is to have ‘strong opinions loosely held’.
The idea is to hold very strong opinions that you argue about passionately until someone else presents a counter-argument or perspective that forces you to reassess or even change your opinion.
A willingness to hold your strong opinion loosely allows you to change your opinion when a better one is presented.
This may seem counter-intuitive but I think it deserves greater scrutiny.
‘Strong opinions strongly held’ would appear to be the default position adopted by business owners.
But here’s Marc’s take.
Hold an opinion and table it…..strongly.
When an audience presents a stronger argument, many business owners adopt a combative stance to defend their opinion.
The thought of surrendering their idea risks a prick to their professional ego. They fear looking weak or dumb in changing their view.
Marc suggest you only hold on to your opinion weakly, so that when a better opinion or perspective is presented, you simply let go of your opinion and adopt a new one.
A better one.
Or maybe the right one.
And here’s the safety net.
If you are not presented with a different perspective, a better argument or new facts – hold on to your strong opinion.
You don’t have to let it go if nothing better is presented as an alternative.
Marc and his business partner Ben Horowitz role play arguing the opposite opinion every time they review a business concept or investment opportunity. They stay in character and have fierce animated debates (some would say heated arguments) until one of them either gives up or changes their opinion.
This is a great tactic to instill and adopt within your management team.
Trial it for a month and see if this leads to better decisions.
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Cheers, Darren K Bourke