Drucker’s disagreements

Decisions, writes Peter Drucker, are not made between right and wrong. They are choices between “almost right” and “probably wrong”. How then can someone choose?

“Decisions of the kind the executive has to make are not made well by acclamation. They are made well only if based on the clash of conflicting views, the dialogue between different points of view, the choice between different judgments. The first rule in decision-making is that one does not make a decision unless there is disagreement.”

Peter Drucker

In other words, argue well.

  • Both Presidents Eisenhower and Obama concealed their preferences to turn their Yes Men into Drucker’s Diagreeers.
  • Audrey Tang offered the expression rotate your position, using language to embody our action (and this connection works).
  • Tim Harford praised debate for setting boundaries and structure, letting the ideas duke it out while egos, relationships, and norms sat on the sidelines.
  • Sam Zell strives to be “business agnostic” and encourages his people to push back.
  • A good scrap, Wilbur Wright is quoted as saying, “brought out new ways of looking at things…helped round the corners.”

Disagreement can be upsetting. But the best organizations set up expectations to disagree. Drucker’s addition to the “argue well” collection is to draft the fine line between “almost right” and “probably wrong”. If things are that close then we must debate to find what’s right.