As a product manager sitting in the center of the organization, your opinion is crucial. You have a unique perspective - not part of development, marketing, sales, or distribution but at the central hub of them all. I like to think of the product manager as providing balance. However, if you are not willing to state your opinion respectfully and clearly, the entire group is denied your valuable insight (I know, sometimes they don't recognize the valuable part).
In an age where consensus and cooperation is the key, it should not be at the cost of the critical discussion and evaluation, needed to examine alternative viewpoints.
Here are three key points that create an environment where group discussion can lead to good decisions and avoid the pitfalls of the dreaded groupthink:
By fostering an environment where differences are welcomed, the team or group can benefit from a multitude of complex viewpoints. At times, things may get intense but as a product manager, did you really ever think you were going to be immune from conflict? Not a chance.
- The task at hand needs to be the driving force, not social harmony - now is not the time to conform.
- Leaders need to encourage people to share alternative perspectives - you don't need to protect the leader from contrary views. If you are the leader, make it known that it's okay for group members to hold a differing opinion.
- Put procedures in place to ensure that group members critically evaluate all ideas and gather outside feedback where appropriate - don't view outside opinions as inherently inferior.
"Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves"