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Let's Get Persian

Paul B. Carroll, Chunka Mui

October 08, 2008

"Herodotus, the Greek historian, reported that the ancient Persians always made important decisions twice—first when they were drunk, and then again when they were sober. Only if the Persians reached the same decision, drunk and sober, would they act on that decision. In addition to using what might be called a second-chance meeting to review important decisions in an unbiased light, businesses should also take advantage of other means of introducing constructive contention into their decision-making... Our research found nine additional ways to introduce disagreement and to manage that disagreement so it keeps everyone on their toes without harming the camaraderie of a management team: 1) Informal devil's advocacy 2) Escalation systems 3) Bets 4) Staring into the abyss 5) Finding history that fits 6) Deciding (ahead of time) how to decide 7) Smoothing out management ruts 8) Constructing alarm systems 9) A formal devil's advocate review We'll look at those nine methods, one by one, starting with the relatively simple and concluding with a formal process that, we believe, should be used by every company before any major decision is made."

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