Simon Terry

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Speak up

So is ignorance an impediment to progress or a precondition for it? In a recent New Yorker article Malcolm Gladwell discusses Albert O. Hirschman’s work on how creativity can be driven from our efforts to recover from ignorance

Many entrepreneurs strike us as remarkably naive. They dared to act whether others saw only risk.

Hirschman wrote the book Exit, Voice & Loyalty, that I read in a long ago economics degree. I would recommend Hirschman’s book to anyone as it is short, an easy read and amazingly insightful as is discusses the choices of consumers, community and employees to agree, exit or speak up.

That book was a revelation to me because it helped me to clarify that there was a powerful path between acceptance and refusal. There is another path between buying or selling. You don’t have to choose only to stay or exit. You can also speak up for change. Usually it is only when people speak up that the system is able to understand the meaning of the otherwise silent & often missed exits.

Reading Exit Voice and Loyalty led me to the opinion that it is usually better to make your first choice to find some way to speak up or make change happen from within the system. There are only so many opportunities for exit or acquiescence. At some point, we all need to shape things in our world. We can all do this more.

Speaking up gives others the chance to respond to your needs or concerns. Speaking up defines the unnoticed issues. Speaking up is not without risk and conflict. In many cases, it demands the creativity or the naïveté of the entrepreneur to safely make your point and generate change.

In an age of technology to enable collaboration and social interaction, we all need to accept that more connected consumers, communities and employees have many more means to express their views. As voice moves from rare to common, these stakeholders will increasingly prefer voice to slipping quietly away.

We should hope that voice is the growing preference too. After all, losing the support of others is a form of feedback, but not particularly useful feedback.

Speak up and encourage others to speak up too.


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