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