Minority Report

10 Februrary 2011

I recently attended a committee meeting where there was deadlock in the way forward. A small sub-group had researched and formulated a position paper and had got as far as trying to write a conclusion. And this was the problem: three members of the sub-group had written one conclusion, while the other two had formulated an entirely different conclusion. This was causing a delay to the publication of the position paper and was in danger of rendering the exercise futile, as the information in the report was time-sensitive.

After some debate, someone suggested publishing the paper with both conclusions: a main conclusion and a "minority conclusion"; after all, this was a position paper regarding new technology, so it seemed reasonable that there would be some ongoing debate about the findings.

The "dissenting conclusion" or "minority report" has a well respected provenance in legal and research areas, and even in popular culture, but seems uncommon in business areas. This may understandable in certain circumstances, for example terms of setting out an organisation's vision of the future, but it seems to have a place in those areas of business where there is still room for debate.      

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