The New York Times ran a story to this effect last week, and offered examples of people who saw the current meltdown coming:
All through last year, Jim Melcher saw the signs of a rapidly deteriorating American housing market -- riskier mortgages, rising delinquencies and more homes falling into foreclosure. And with $100 million in assets at his hedge fund, Balestra Capital, he was in a position to do something about it... So in October, as mortgage-backed bonds were still flying high, he bet $10 million that these bonds would plunge in value, using complex derivatives available to any institutional investor.... Mr. Melcher's flagship fund has since doubled in value.In the case of Balestra Capital, the price tag of ignoring dissent would have been steep. With the value of contradictory voices so high, the Harvard Business Review's Conversation Starter blog today offers a round-up of resources and advice for managers looking to amplify dissent within their organizations.
In one such article Lynn Offerman says, "all leaders need to make an extra effort to unearth disagreement and to find followers who are not afraid to pose hard questions." She suggests managers follow these steps:
- Keep visions and values front and center. It's much easier to get sidetracked when you're unclear about what the main track is.
- Make sure people disagree. Remember that most of us form opinions too quickly and give them up too slowly.
- Cultivate truth tellers. Make sure there are people in your world you can trust to tell you what you need to hear, no matter how unpopular or unpalatable it is.