Debate is at the heart of a democracy. Discourse is what fuels growth in any organization. When our aim is to silence one another rather than to discuss or challenge with dignity and respect, it’s a sign that society is beginning to fail. Forbes, Nov 5, 2017. Our Respect For Debate Is Spiraling Out Of Control.
“Bruce, don’t ever show that slide again!” The slide in question showed that based upon our past performance we would most likely miss our delivery date by months. This wasn’t a few weeks or months before the delivery date. This was at the very beginning of the just approved project.
Few people ever directly challenged my data or position. They knew I did considerable research and I was often the acknowledged expert in the area I was talking about. So the strategy was often to try and silence me rather than produce contrary evidence or refute what I had produced. The later would have been way too much work but silencing a pessimistic view was critical as they had probably already made numerous promises to many people to have gotten this far.
I always wondered why they would expect me to stop sharing such data just because they asked (sometimes yelled!). I suspect it was because they had gotten away with this approach in the past. When they had heard something they didn’t like, they would essentially intimidate the messenger into silence. For these serial intimidators, it probably helped that most projects were late and buggy, so producing another late and buggy project was not an issue to them so as long as they could avoid the blame and get any credit.
I also often experienced the suppression tactic that any disagreements had to be taken ”off line.” We could not argue nor disagree openly. This inevitably squashed all discussion so that only a few people were allowed to carry the discussion on the project and then that discussion always had to be positive and upbeat. This was even true in organizations where just about all projects were late and buggy, but where saying we were going to be late and buggy, again, was unacceptable or not being a “team player.”
The lack of open discussion and debate was always a good indicator that the organization was beginning to fail if it had not already gone far down that path.
Are you able to conduct open and frank discussions with everyone about the planning and status of your project?