An objection is an argument relating to a (proposed) agreement or activity that reveals unintended consequences you’d rather avoid, or that demonstrates worthwhile ways to improve.

Objections reveal information about (potential) unintended consequences, or about worthwhile ways to improve.

Be aware that withholding objections can harm the ability of individuals, teams or the whole organization to achieve their objectives.

It’s the responsibility of each individual in an organization to raise potential objections to proposals, decisions, existing agreements or activities.

Those accountable for an activity or (proposed) agreement in question, are responsible for considering arguments and addressing objections that are raised, when doing so will help to meet the organization’s objectives.

When seeking out potential objections, consider:

  • why the intended outcome would not be (fully) achieved: effectiveness
  • why it would be wasteful to proceed as proposed (or previously agreed): efficiency
  • the negative consequences something would have elsewhere (in the same domain, in the wider organization, or beyond): side-effects

The information revealed by objections can be used to improve:

  • current and planned activity
  • how people execute on decisions
  • existing agreements
  • proposals
  • shared understanding of drivers

Create a culture where people feel comfortable to raise potential objections at any time, so that they can relax into making decisions that are good enough for now and safe enough to try. This encourages developing a preference for trying things out, instead of attempting to anticipate and account for all possibilities in advance.

Harness a diversity of perspectives and be open to challenge your own, to discover when and what to change, and enjoy iterating more rapidly, running experiments and learning from the outcomes as you proceed.

Concerns

Not all arguments raised are objections. Distinguish between objections, which always reveal useful information, and other arguments that are based only on assumptions, or a personal preference or opinion.

A concern is an assumption – or opinion – that doing something (even in the absence of objections) might stand in the way of (more) effective response to an organizational driver.

In Consent Decision Making, concerns can inform ways to further evolve agreements (including evaluation criteria and frequency of evaluation). Bring up concerns if you think it’s valuable to consider them, and at least record them along with the agreement, and monitor outcomes over time.

If in doubt about whether you have an objection or a concern, be proactive and check with others to see what they think too. (see Test Arguments Qualify as Objections).