Strategies

Soft debates

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Where working relationships are good and intellectual complexity is high, it may be useful to engage in “soft” debates. Many process leaders shy away from debate because it can be confrontational. However, debating can bring information to bear on the problem, clarify issues, and sharpen options. Two productive methods are “Point‐Counterpoint” and “Intellectual Watchdog.” Both can sharpen the work of the group.

The “Point‐Counterpoint Method” works like this:

  1. Divide into two groups.
  2. Group A develops a proposal, fleshing out the recommendation, key assumptions, and critical supporting data.
  3. Group A presents the proposal to Group B in written and oral form.
  4. Group B generates one or more alternative plans of action.
  5. The groups come together to debate the proposals and seek agreement on a common set of assumptions.

The “Intellectual Watchdog Method” works like this:

  1. Divide into two groups.
  2. Group A develops a proposal, fleshing out the recommendation, key assumptions, and critical supporting data.
  3. Group A presents the proposal to Group B in written and oral form.
  4. Group B develops a detailed critique of these assumptions and recommendations. It presents this critique in written and oral forms. Group A revises its proposal based on this feedback.

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