Richard Branson on the Value of Debate in Business Partnerships
I have an idea, but I dont necessarily know how to start it or how to plan it, Kruk said. OptiMize co-Founder Tim Pituch, a Rackham student, hoped that the ZingTrain workshop would help students begin that planning process. Essentially, what (Zingermans is) encouraging you to do is to imagine a better alternative to the problem, but not necessarily thinking about the how, not thinking about what it takes to get there at this point, Pituch said. In terms of their own vision for the future of optiMize, Sorenson and Pituch plan on building the organizations disparate programs the Critical Social Issues course, the Social Innovation Challenge and their Summer Fellowship Program into a smooth process aimed at helping its members find success in their own initiatives. The classes feed into that, and then the students that really do well (in the challenge) feed into the Summer Fellowship Program that we launched this past summer where we provide students with $3000 fellowships to pay for their living expenses while theyre still working on their project in the summer, Sorenson said. But more generally, Sorenson and Pituch hope to continue developing optiMize into an integral and influential part of the University community.
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Over almost 50 years in business, I have learned that having a healthy debate about strategy and direction is vital if a business is to succeed, so I always encourage my colleagues to challenge me and speak up if they disagree with any of our groups plans. The old saying that a family that eats together, stays together also applies to disagreements in business — a team that challenges each other will be successful together. This may seem like bad advice to leaders who believe that senior management teams should always be harmonious, but I disagree. Of course, redirected you cannot be at permanent loggerheads with your senior colleagues or fellow founders, but the occasional debate is good for everyone and will help to sharpen your teams focus. At Virgins senior management meetings, we have not always immediately agreed on which investments to make or which course of action to take. For example, in 1999 all of my senior colleagues were opposed to our launching Virgin Blue Airlines (now Virgin Australia Airlines).
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