Friday, January 12, 2007

Intelligent Disobedience

Terrence Seamon has an interesting post on Intelligent Disobedience. The idea came from guide dog training. The dog learns to ignore the owner's command to move forward if the owner would get hit by a car.

Seems to me that this concept has wide application. For instance, parenting. Good parents probably teach this skill unknowingly. Sooner or later, little kids learn to say "no" and refuse commands, usually to the parents' chagrin. But it's an important, potentially life-saving ability.

This is also an idea that has application to project management. An article at notes...

“Intelligent disobedience”...should be applied in specific situations with specific intent, and a specific result in mind. Examples of pivotal instances where intelligent disobedience might be appropriate include:

- Dealing with unresponsive sponsors or key customers
- Managing culture clashes that inhibit project progress
- Needing to shake up lagging teams
- Overcoming resistance to changing processes
- Challenging “time versus quality” decisions
- Considering intuitive versus fact-based decision making

I've made my opinions on this particular upgrade more than clear to my boss and outlined the worst and best case scenario. Over the past couple of weeks, it has become increasingly clear that no one has done the necessary risk assessment for this project. I'm certain an episode of "intelligent disobedience" needed to occur higher up from me.

These days I feel like I'm on another planet from my colleagues....

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