Time to Start an ARGUMENT


Last night I had an argument with Marc Carnegie.

Well not me personally but a room full of arguers at the NGV (National Gallery, Victoria for non-Melbournites). We were all invited to argue as guests of the Wheeler Centre.

Marc played the provocateur by putting forward the idea that Australia should adopt compulsory conscription….don’t panic! – of the civil service kind, to promote a society engaged in building social capital. (Catch Q&A 23rd June).

While this is an intriguing idea, I’m interested in the argument about the argument.

By the end of the night we felt drawn in, switched on and wanted to keep going.

Now, like many of you, I’m not great with conflict so my natural tendency is to pull back and play diplomat.

But, I’m going to put it out there, we need more arguments in organisations.

Many of our clients tell us they would like to see:
• more guts,
• more “managerial courage”
• people having the real and tough conversations
• people being a little less “nice”
• less “group think”

In short, that this lack of robust debate and exchange of diverging views impacts the quality of decisions.

Corridor conversations
Take the law firm where the senior leadership team was making an important decision. It appeared they all agreed, but on the way out the door, a couple of partners sniped at each other that’s *#@**!

The Managing Partner heard, got them back in the room and said:  “now tell us what you really think and by the way no one is leaving until we make a real decision.”

They stayed till 11 pm and emerged with a decision they could all back.

Why is it so tricky to argue well?
As well as organisational factors – like cultures of avoidance or blame, there are individual factors that have an impact on both if and how we will argue.

McClelland’s theory of needs describes three human motivators, what’s yours?


Go on, give it a go….
• Manage the downside of your motivation
• Be gutsy
• Go hard on the problem not the person
• Use dialogue skills: listen deeply and question well
• Be curious and expect to learn something new
• Allow yourself to both persuade and be persuaded


So…….. Tell us what you really think?


  1. Timothy Skater · · Reply

    Loved it G. Well done. It inspired me and made me think. x


    1. thanks for the encouragement Timothy and glad you enjoyed it G


  2. Michelle Jorgensen · · Reply

    Nice one Georgina. Short, sharp and relevant. Can I share your blog around in my network? I know a few people who will enjoy following this.


    1. yes please do Michelle and thanks! G


  3. I won’t argue with you George – well written – engaging, concise, challenging and practical.
    x it.


    1. thanks Jen and feel free


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