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Ch. 4: Think Again by Adam Grant

#177: Aug. - Oct. 2021 (Non-Fiction)
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Chris OConnor
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Ch. 4: Think Again by Adam Grant

Ch. 4: Think Again by Adam Grant

Please use this thread to discuss the above chapter.
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Robert Tulip
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Re: Ch. 4: Think Again by Adam Grant

Chapter Four, The Good Fight Club, makes the excellent point that people tend to view arguing as rude, but in fact arguing with a person is a sign of respect, that you consider their opinions worthy of engagement and dialogue. Refusal to argue sends the message that their ideas are not important enough to even discuss or consider.

A great example of this principle of the benefits of argument is the Wright Brothers. Apparently they constantly bickered with each other about technical details of building the first aeroplane. This infusion of energy into their mutual engagement, and the attitude that they argued on content, not personally, was what enabled Wilber and Orville to be such magnificent innovators.
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Robert Tulip
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Re: Ch. 4: Think Again by Adam Grant

This chapter explains the difference between relationship conflict and task conflict, based on whether arguments are personal or about content.

Personal arguments are destructive while content arguments are constructive. High performing groups have low relationship conflict and high task conflict.

Debating competing perspectives explicitly and respectfully is the only way to achieve shared vision and creative originality and innovation and results.

Allowing emotion to intrude leads to spiteful, self-righteous and single-minded attitudes that prevent cooperation in teams. A task focus brings diversity, humility and curiosity, enabling us to think again and think better.

People find productive disagreement difficult, but it is an essential life skill. Exposure to respectful argument makes children feel safe, helpful and compassionate, able to stand up for themselves.

The father of Wilbur and Orville Wright was a bishop who had atheist books in his library. He encouraged courageous debate to grow the intellectual muscles of resilience and resolve. Enjoying constant scrapping for months on end was an essential factor in the Wright Bros enabling humanity to take to the air.
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Robert Tulip
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Re: Ch. 4: Think Again by Adam Grant

“The Plight of the People Pleaser” is explained from page 81, and is one of the most brilliant sections in this book so far.

The problem is that being agreeable means you don’t engage in the constructive disagreement that is needed to be fully productive. Disagreeable people are energised by conflict, which can make them unpopular but successful.

An example is from the highly successful Pixar movie The Incredibles, which was based on rethinking the boundaries of animation. Director Brad Bird recruited fearless disagreeable people who could be guaranteed to speak up and foster task conflict. People leaders don’t like but who hold them to account on every detail. No yes-men, flatterers and agreeable support network. Instead, Bird rallied his disgruntled challenge network, a team of pirates who would speak their minds and innovate.

Bird had been fired from Disney for criticising the new breed of low quality, substandard conventional leaders. Rather than shielding himself from conflict, Bird revelled in it.

Politicians who tune out boat-rockers and listen to bootlickers are susceptible to seduction by sycophants. They become overconfident, on a collision course with failure. Engaging critics makes you strong, while avoiding debate makes you weak.

But things still go wrong. As Mr P. mentioned, Grant tells the story of how a peer review of a rejected article suggested he read some of Adam Grant. His approach is to recruit a challenge network who will elevate the work and not feed their egos, like a good fight club whose first rule is that avoiding an argument is bad manners. Silence is disrespect.

Fighting about details makes for stronger results, as a better learner and better leader.
Last edited by Robert Tulip on Sun Sep 26, 2021 5:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
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