There is one type of courage that is lacking at every level of many organizations, and that is the courage to speak up, especially if your position is different from everyone else’s. Each of us has examples of times when our silence was harmful to the group we were working with, and the outcome would have been more successful if only we had spoken up. It does no one any good if we have information, intuition or something else that should be considered in making a decision.
The Abilene Paradox is a concept that suggests that managing agreement is much more difficult than managing conflict. With conflict, everyone’s opinion is on the table and available for discussion. When everyone agrees, or worse, is silent (which we assume means assent) we carry on without question, only to discover later that people did have opposing views that would have resulted in a much more complete discussion and a better decision.
It is in every group’s best interest that every member express his or her view, even if it lengthens the discussion. In the long run it will lead to better relations and better decisions.