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The Virtue of Dissent

The Big Idea for Wednesday, January 09, 2013

In his book, Adapt: Why Success Always Starts With Failure, Tim Harford presents a novel approach to problem-solving. Instead of looking to politicians and generals to lay out grand visions and show us the way, Harford argues that many of the complex issues in the world--as well as everyday business decisions and choices we face in our personal lives--can be solved through improvisation and working from the bottom up

Harford points to the failure of leadership during the Iraq War as a prime example of the failures of top-down leadership. Harford argues that the dissenters, however, ultimately won out in Iraq. With Rumsfeld out of the picture, Harford argues that General Petraeus was able to organize what his colonials were doing on the ground and institute an effective anti-insurgent policy.

In today's lesson, we look at how Harford's concept of improvisation from the bottom up can be applied to Chuck Hagel's challenge to take on an entrenched culture at the Pentagon, should he become Secretary of Defense. 


  1. 1 Can Chuck Hagel Exorcize the Ghost of Neocons Past?
    Daniel Honan Think Tank
  2. 2 Making Your Dissent Heard
    Stephen Breyer
  3. 3 Creating a Culture of Dissent
    Tim Harford
  4. 4 Why I Do Not Want Everyone To Agree With Me
    Tauriq Moosa Against the New Taboo

The Virtue of Dissent

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