A Different form of Intelligent Disobedience

Sometimes a sound can trigger the needed reaction!

After delivering a conference keynote on intelligent disobedience a delegate approached me to share this story…

As a business analyst at a major hospital, he was frustrated by project sponsorship that wasn’t stepping to the plate to establish priorities for critical staff members so the project team could collect appropriate requirements for what was being called a ”priority one” project. After many attempts at communication with various sponsors to try to rectify this, the team decided demonstrative action was needed. Using three fundamental elements of intelligent disobedience – risk, creativity and persistence – he decided to try one more attempt at communicating the need.

The team took a ”crash cart” – yes one of the hospital rolling carts holding a heart monitor and a defibrillator that was recently repaired and needed to be tested. They rolled it into the hospital’s Board of Directors meeting. One of the project team members had the heart sensors hooked up to himself under his dress shirt and the monitor was working; it was beeping in the normal way as his heart beat. (Well, maybe a little faster than normal, because he was a bit nervous!) The project manager briefly described the problem and when it came to describing the impact on the project, they unplugged the sensors from the monitor, sending it ”flat-lining”, with the accompanying long steady beep tone. That noise alone triggered a reaction with the senior medical personnel that were part of the Board of Directors.

Priorities were then laid out for the needed staff members – the project moved forward to a successful completion. Intelligent Disobedience saves the day!

Intelligent Disobedience Leadership provides workshops, coaching and consulting with a focus on courageous leadership through intelligent disobedience. We can help you and your teams design a community of practice which leverages constructive “intelligent disobedience.” For further information, email us at info@intelligentdisobedience.com. 

Let’s Share Stories on Intelligent Disobedience

Welcome to the Intelligent Disobedience blog – designed to help leaders excel by discussing how and when to push back, bend rules (with communication and integrity!) and save our businesses from themselves!

“Intelligent Disobedience” is understanding how and when to “say no” to leaders and influential stakeholders using skills similar in nature to those used by “seeing-eye” and other assistance dogs. All dogs must go through training prior to being certified as assistance dogs, and only those with “intelligent disobedience” capabilities pass muster and become certified. It is the dogs that know when to “disobey their masters” – such as refusing to cross the street when a car is coming – that succeed at becoming seeing-eye dogs. Can you imagine a seeing-eye dog that didn’t possess “Intelligent Disobedience”; venturing into the street because its master commanded him to do so, despite the oncoming car?

Can you imagine a leader diligently pressing forward with a business initiative or a development approach that they believed would fail or be contradictory to organizational objectives? Although the seeing-eye dog story has a more deadly outcome, this latter example occurs with far too great a frequency and the end result could be costing our organizations significant losses in revenue, lack of customer satisfaction, and even integrity issues.

For leaders, “Intelligent Disobedience” is knowing when and how to depart from the norm in opinions, cultural standards, and processes. “Intelligent Disobedience” means understanding the politics of an organization, and maneuvering around the “land mines” that can diminish the effectiveness of the organization – even when those land mines were planted by the organization itself! “Intelligent Disobedience” means having strong beliefs in our business objectives and those of your organization. “Intelligent Disobedience” means taking leadership responsibilities very seriously. It means having courage, fortitude and being determined to do right for your team, yourself and the organization – even in the face of risks. “Intelligent Disobedience” is tough and is vital to ensuring the alignment of company initiatives and projects with organizational objectives, especially in today’s business climate.

With our blog entries, we will discuss the how’s, when’s and why’s of utilizing intelligent disobedience – to help you help yourself, your teams, and your business. (And maybe your life outside of work as well!) So, watch this space, share your comments with us, and grow with stories from people who have engaged in real life intelligent disobedience, taken the risks, and come out shining!

Intelligent Disobedience Leadership provides workshops, coaching and consulting with a focus on courageous leadership through intelligent disobedience. We can help you and your teams design a community of practice which leverages constructive “intelligent disobedience.” For further information, email us at info@intelligentdisobedience.com.