Truth from our own point of view – truth only each of us as individuals can bring – is the essence of intelligent disobedience. Packaging it, selling it, promoting it and bringing your truth to the “pool of information” that is used to make important decisions is paramount to being successful. Often it takes some unusual or creative actions to make this information known. Here is an interesting example:
A colleague of ours took a direct approach to getting a message across, in this case to an equipment vendor. She was having considerable difficulty getting appropriate safeguards installed to protect her mining processing equipment against the heat that is common in the Western Australia summer. The vendor (who was from the comparatively cooler climate of Northern Europe) kept attributing equipment failures to maintenance shortcomings, rather than the equipment’s inability to handle the Western Australia heat. She felt certain it was the temperature, and with some simple modifications to the equipment, the heat would no longer be an issue. After considerable perseverance (another trait of intelligent disobedience), she was able to convince a vendor maintenance manager to come to her mining site. Good fortune struck the day her vendor showed up on site, as it was almost 100F (38C), and quite humid. Her intelligent disobedience surfaced in the manner in which she “showed” this vendor maintenance manager how the heat was putting a strain on the operation of his company’s equipment.
Rather than just bringing him for a tour of the site, she arranged to have a few members of her team provide long and intricate details as to how the equipment was being utilized in her particular environment, and exactly what processes they were using to maintain the equipment. In many cases they actually showed the vendor the step by step processes they were using to maintain the equipment. All this was done in the mining maintenance facility, which isn’t air conditioned, in the extreme heat of the day. Add in the dust and noise of the operation of the mining equipment, this turned out to be a two hour demo that the vendor was not soon to forget.
In a somewhat cruel but crafty approach, our colleague went back to her air conditioned office after introducing the vendor manager to her staff and getting the demonstrations started. At the end of the demo, the vendor was more than happy to return to her cool office and discuss the equipment modification ideas she had been trying to promote for an extensive amount of time. He was all ears (and a bit of sweat)! After those discussions he enthusiastically carried the temperature tolerant modification ideas forward to his company. In a couple of months time, the engineering modifications were installed on the equipment, and the maintenance issues subsided.
A bit of perseverance, along with come creativity, and another problem is solved via intelligent disobedience!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.