Why is disagree and commit a bad strategy?

Disagree and Commit idea is as old as 1983, but I think it's more popular again becaues of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos 2016 Letter to Shareholders:

Third, use the phrase “disagree and commit.” This phrase will save a lot of time. If you have conviction on a particular direction even though there’s no consensus, it’s helpful to say, “Look, I know we disagree on this but will you gamble with me on it? Disagree and commit?” By the time you’re at this point, no one can know the answer for sure, and you’ll probably get a quick yes.

This isn’t one way. If you’re the boss, you should do this too. I disagree and commit all the time. We recently greenlit a particular Amazon Studios original. I told the team my view: debatable whether it would be interesting enough, complicated to produce, the business terms aren’t that good, and we have lots of other opportunities. They had a completely different opinion and wanted to go ahead. I wrote back right away with “I disagree and commit and hope it becomes the most watched thing we’ve ever made.” Consider how much slower this decision cycle would have been if the team had actually had to convince me rather than simply get my commitment.

To be honest it sounds pretty good when CEO does it. What's more common in my experience is the othey way around.

You're manager tells you about something that's going to change, new thing you're going to do. You can disagree, but have to commit at the end. Frankly there is no point in disagreement if it's not going to change anything. If you read articles I link below, nad I highly recommend doing so you'll notice there is only one advice for you when you disagree. Leave.

Now it's more clear than in common practice it's just Autocratic managment under the cover of letting people disagree.

I propose a test for yourself. How often does your manages say I disagree and commit to you and how often is it required of you?

Lost opportunity #

In my experience when disagree and commit was used it was a lost opportunity to apply a feedback of someone to improve the idea. I would argue that the idea itself is not that great if it so commonly abused.

  1. The idea you're sharing doesn't improve if you want commitment from the start.
  2. Any commitment without real input from the team is shallow. People are not motivated to work on things they disagree with and they are more likely to leave.

There is a point at which the only solution to an inability to ‘disagree and commit’ is to quit the company and leave.

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