Reasonable Challenge

What it was:

Short workshop on ‘Reasonable challenge’ in London on 26 September 2018.

What I learned:

  • The Chilcot report, which examined Government decision-making in the run up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, warned against the dangers of ‘group-think’.
  • Challenge is a key way of fighting group-think.
  • Challenge is difficult in a hierarchical organisation like defence. We can get swept up in ‘senior narratives’ and find ourselves working within these without necessarily challenging them.
  • Being on the receiving end of challenge is difficult for leaders. The instinct can be fight or flight.
  • The MOD has developed a simple Reasonable Challenge guide that helps people to direct challenge in the right way, and helps leaders to encourage and harness challenge.
  • The language we use to introduce a reasonable challenge is important, make sure to phrase it as a helpful suggestion
  • The role of leaders is to create a context in which everyone can make a reasonable challenge.
  • Reasonable challenge is now being baked into training across government.

What I will aim to do differently as a result:

  • Apply reasonable challenge lessons at work
  • Publicise the reasonable challenge guide in my team
  • Conduct a workshop to explore how we apply challenge in our team
  • Consider recognising or rewarding team members for making good use of challenge

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