By Rich Bond
This is a great article by Wharton Management professor Adam Grant. In this excerpt from Adam’s new book “Think Again,” he makes the point that “disagreeable” people who challenge the status quo are needed in businesses. They push back against management and start constructive arguments that can save money and spark innovation. He uses the group that developed “The Incredibles” at Pixar as an example.
I believe most companies want to hire people whom everyone likes, which is a noble thought but can be stifling to an organization. They look for people who will fit or have the right chemistry. However, I agree with Grant that companies need a certain amount of dissension, or they will become complacent and stop innovating. My mother used to say, “Don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back.”
Some people might call finance “disagreeable,” but I prefer to use the term “objective.” If there isn’t a certain amount of constructive criticism from your finance people, then there is a high probability that they are allocating resources inefficiently.
I think it is important to hire finance people who will objectively view what is going on and make pro-active, fact-based recommendations to help the company move ahead. For example, if the sales department recommends price reductions for their largest customer, who may be only a breakeven proposition at best, it is incumbent for finance to raise questions about the advisability of such a move.
Unfortunately, many companies do not track customer profitability. But you need to do just that, if you want to enable more productive assessments of business opportunities that grow your bottom line.
Here’s a link to the full Wharton article: