An objection is an argument demonstrating (or revealing)how a (proposed) agreement or activity can lead to unintended consequences, or that there are worthwhile ways to improve it.
Objections reveal information about unintended consequences, or about viable ways to improve.
It’s the accountability of individuals to raise potential objections to proposals, decisions, existing agreements or activities.
Withholding objections can harm the ability of individuals, teams or the whole organization to respond to organizational drivers.
Being able to raise potential objections at any time means decisions only need to be good enough for now and safe enough to try.
Those accountable for the activity or (proposed) agreement in question, are responsible for considering arguments and addressing objections.
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
- shared understanding of drivers
Not all arguments raised are objections. Distinguish between objections, which always reveal useful information, and other arguments that are based only on assumption or preference.
To discover if an argument qualifies as an objection, in a group context a facilitator might ask:
“Do you think this argument qualifies as an objection?”
If nobody disagrees with the argument, an objection typically qualifies. Otherwise aim to discover the actual objection or reveal any misconceptions.
Some helpful questions:
- How does the argument relate to this specific proposal or agreement?
- Does the argument reveal how a (proposed or current) activity or agreement:
- harms response to any organizational driver?
- can be improved right now?
- prevents or diminishes someone’s contribution towards responding to a driver?
- is in conflict with the organization’s values?
- is considered not ‘safe enough’ to try?
A concern is an assumption 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 consider them important and at least record them along with evaluation criteria.
If you are in doubt whether you have an objection or a concern, check with others if they think it qualifies as an objection.