Why It’s Important To Have A 10th Man In Your Organization

In a pivotal scene in the thriller, World War Z, the Mossad Director, Jurgan Wormbraun, tells Brad Pitt that a key to their success was having a unique person in their organization, the 10th man.  As he noted, “It’s the duty of the 10th man to disagree.”

While few organization experience anything as cataclysmic as the near apocalypse of World War Z, the point is well made because of the following that occurs in most companies:

  • It is easy to be convinced by others of a direction to follow – as momentum develops in a group we tend to follow if it appears reasonable
  • If an action is enforced by executives then we often assume it means it makes sense and that we have our own role to play
  • While we appreciate a more global perspective for our organization we often focus on what makes sense closer to home
  • Speaking openly in opposition to a broadly endorsed action often results in rejection or, at the least, some delay in gratification. In a few cases, disagreeing with the company view can result in a form of punishment

The point is not to encourage chaos. As in the Mossad Director’s view, we need to build in natural challenges and encourage debate within our organizations.  If we do, the result will likely be a stronger plan of action with committed implementation.