Weekly Thoughts From the Desk of the Principal

Have You Reached a Decision, Yet? Click below to read this week's thoughts.

Gabriel Lucas

Sep 10, 2021

Weekly Thoughts From the Desk of the Principal

The other day, I stumbled upon a broadcast of 12 Angry Men, the 1957 American film classic about a jury that struggles to render a verdict of an accused murderer.  Eleven people are ready to vote guilty within moments of entering the jury room, but one person, Juror #8, has doubts.  Eventually and improbably, the entire jury unanimously agrees to acquit.


This film offers so many teachable moments and would be a good watch for any executive cabinet.  On your team who is that Juror #8 — someone who has doubts about a decision that to everyone else seems obvious?  What kind of hostility, explicit or implied, would they face if they tried to speak up?


In the movie, the other eleven jurors don't come around at the same time.  For each one a distinct moment is the critical trigger for a change of mind and heart.  Too often I observe teams mired in groupthink, which allows a “Juror #8” to briefly speak up but then fails to produce a “Juror #9,” who in the movie played the critical role of the first to separate from the majority.  How often does a lone voice get silenced in your team meetings?


There is a trend these days to reject and rebuff organizational meetings, which often feel pointless and endless.  This movie reminds us that it is critical for a team to get together to hash out differences and concerns, though two elements were absolutely essential: a specific decision had to be made, and everyone was on equal standing.  How often do your meetings lack one of these two elements?


The next time you are part of a strategic planning meeting, check to make sure those underpinnings are present, and then listen hard for someone who might be wanting to speak up.  Then, make sure the group goes through a period of reflection, perhaps with a little emotion, that is anything but perfunctory.  Though someone's life probably won't be in your hands, you just might arrive at a dramatically better decision — beyond a reasonable doubt.




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