The other day I was reading a post on Inc about productivity (9 Tricks Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Other Top Execs Use to Run Meetings) and one of the tricks listed there was Merissa Meyer’s, who apparently vets all ideas by asking a series of questions on the research methodology, if and how it was backed up, etc. This got me thinking of the Jurgen Warmbrunn or the 10th man character from the movie World War Z (2013). The 10th man job was to disagree and investigate no matter how improbable an idea may seem:
“If nine of us look at the same information and arrive at the exact same conclusion, it’s the duty of the tenth man to disagree. No matter how improbable it may seem, the tenth man has to start digging on the assumption that the other nine are wrong.”
You read a lot of stories nowadays about companies that got disrupted by new incumbents (see Apple vs Nokia in the mobile phones industry) or startups that fell in love with their idea so much that they cannot see the lack of value they bring to customers and therefore the lack of customers. So having a 10th man or team would increase the chance of going on the right direction or realizing the direction is wrong before investing too much time, efforts or money.
So the takeaway from World War Z: make sure you have a 10th man person or team in your organization before it’s too late and/or expensive.