Strong opinions, weakly held
Having a strong opinion is important. Not necessarily on every single topic, but on things that you believe can drive impact. It’s hard to convince others to act or to have a great discussion/debate if there aren’t strong opinions helping advance an idea or find truth. But sticking to your guns (and maintaining your strong opinion) when you are shown data or persuaded by an opposing opinion is just silly. It’s ok to be passionately wrong, and it’s totally ok to change your mind.
The ability to weakly hold a strong opinion is not easy, but it’s a special quality that builds trust and great collaboration.
One of my colleagues @PicMonkey
recently brought a topic to my attention where she and her team felt we were losing potential customers because of a policy on how we verified new registered users. Without data, I said that I was a strong supporter of the decisions and rationale that was already in place. The next day she produced several views of data that helped expose the issue. After just one chart I knew she was right, and also knew that the team who made the decision would happily change the approach. She (and her team) were a bit surprised how quick my position was reversed (especially since they were prepared to show even more data and fight their case). But I think and hope that situation built credibility internally, showing that the goal isn’t to be right, it’s to find what is true so we can make the best decision possible.
If you can develop a reputation as someone who is passionate about ideas, but also totally willing to change your opinion when shown new/different data or perspectives, that creates a lot of trust and a really healthy environment of debate and discussion.
I strongly believe that having “Strong opinions, weakly held” should be considered a virtue, but I could of course be proven wrong…