Collaboration is central to our culture at mabl, with every project involving some level of cross-functional teamwork. But decision-making in a group can often be a difficult process as interpersonal relationships, group dynamics, and external pressures shift the process from making the best decision to making the easiest decision. As part of our ongoing effort to offer a greater range of professional development resources to the mabl team, we recently hosted a workshop focused on healthy dissent and making good group decisions. The workshop was organized by our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team, who regularly run educational sessions for everyone here at mabl.

A Good Company Culture Encourages Dissent 

Dissent isn’t just a sign of a healthy work culture; it’s an essential ingredient for fostering innovation, creativity, and growth for the organization and individuals. When ideas can be earnestly and openly discussed, everyone benefits from diverse perspectives. 

Strategies For Fostering Healthy Dissent 

Fostering dissent is just another way of having team discussions that encourage holistic, innovative, and balanced thinking. A few strategies recommended by our workshop leaders: 

Appoint a devil’s advocate: designate a team member whose role is to debate group assumptions or plans. This removes the pressure of challenging a group consensus and encourages out-of-the-box thinking among team members.

Designate time to brainstorm alone: removing the pressure of presenting ideas immediately in a group setting allows team members to develop their thoughts without being influenced by group dynamics. It also gives teammates who are less likely to speak up in meetings a chance to share their ideas, breaking established group dynamics. 

Reward dissent: it may sound simple, but how leaders respond to dissent is critical for establishing a healthy and innovative culture. Rewarding dissent with positive feedback ensures that people feel comfortable voicing their opinions, even if they disagree with other team members. 

Practice saying no: saying ‘yes’ to tasks or ideas that won’t benefit the team or the customer quickly leads to burnout and inefficiency. Cultivating a culture that encourages honest discussion demands that people feel comfortable saying no and finding ways to turn those moments into creative breakthroughs.

Ask questions that encourage dissent: directing the conversation towards dissent gives team members permission to disagree with the consensus, and encourages people to approach ideas from a new angle. Leaders should dedicate time to thinking about how ideas could fail to support more creative problem solving. 

Speak last: more senior team members and team leaders should wait until other people have shared their thoughts in order to give everyone a chance to express themselves freely. By giving newer or more junior teammates the chance to speak first, leaders establish a culture of respect and collaboration that supports contributions from everyone. 

Using these techniques, teams can develop healthy habits for collaboration and decision-making, which builds a positive company culture for employees and results in more innovation for customers. Personally, I’ve already started to implement some of these techniques and it has been incredibly gratifying to see the results. More broadly at mabl, we also take an active role in maintaining these habits through company-wide meeting guidelines that foster respectful and inclusive communication. Every mabler has valuable ideas to share! 

Brainstorming, Collaborating, and Building Together 

I’m incredibly proud of the mabl team for not only building a powerful test automation platform, but for creating a culture that keeps delivering innovation to our customer community. Located around the world, mablers bridge thousands of miles to work together as a team. It hasn’t always been easy, but everyone has shown up to support each other when it matters most. Thank you to Rachel, who led this impactful workshop on fostering healthy dissent, and thank you to each and every mabler who brings their creativity, expertise, and support to our work.  

Mabl is hiring! Join our global team of collaborative team of innovators and help us build the future of software testing.