Licensee Badge
Submitted by madmarv on


I listened to the Professional Subordination cast this morning and I finally found the word I was looking for whenever I hear the phrase "murdering the unchosen alternative".   What you really mean is to deceive everyone into thinking that the chosen alternative was the only alternative there ever was.

I don't understand why one would think this strategy is better than coming straight out and saying that Option A was chosen over Option B.  The rest of the cast makes sense.  I can see the necessity to carry out the organizations decisions even when they are contrary to my personal beliefs.  But, trying to hide the existence of Option B is a lot like trying to hide bit of embarrassing info during a job interview.  It just makes the interviewer dig deeper to find what you're hiding.  And in the real world, such deception just undermines your credibility.

JonathanGiglio's picture
Licensee Badge

 The point is not to deny there was an Option B, the point is to kill it. 

A simplistic example. You want to make red widgets because people like red. The company says they want to produce yellow widgets and the decision is made. If you go around managing and state the superiority of red widgets, this is where the credibility of the organization is undermined. Most likely your subordinates understand you could have made red widgets, blue widgets, or any other color. They also understand there were other alternatives to the final decision by the company. It is management's job to not focus their energy on what could have been but do the best job in producing the results that have been chosen - in this case, making red widgets.

As for the job interview example, same thing. You do not lie about your past, however you exist as if bad performance in the past is NOT indicative of future results. You murder the past negative and vow to learn from your mistake and never do it again.


It's not hiding, it is saying the past is the past and it cannot be changed and now the organization moves forward. In this case, the past was Option B.

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

We've never encouraged anything other than ethical professionalism, and this situation is no different.  You are mistaken.  We stand by our recommendations.

We never said to deny that there was an Option B.  How could we when we used examples where one's directs KNEW you were in FAVOR of B?  WE simply said that once B was chosen, the professional response is to not commiserate or talk about it.

Not talking about something that everyone is aware of is NOT a deceitful denial of its previous existence, but rather focusing one's efforts on that which can be done, and communicating appropriately.

I'd encourage you to stop listening to us if you think that "what [we] really mean is to deceive everyone." 

Merry Christmas all,


asteriskrntt1's picture

Hi Mad Marv

As the others have pointed out, your interpretation of the cast was completely off base.  What should also be noted is that it is very dangerous to draw conclusions and spout them publicly before you have vetted them a couple of times & gained some perspective.  I don't know where you are in your career or what you do but in general, people who behave like that in work environments (spout off and insult people) tend to have very little career advancement.



stephenbooth_uk's picture're not saying that the existing alternatives didn't exist, you're saying they're not a viable option and this is the way the company is going so everyone has to look to how to achieve that.

Any decision, any decision, is going to have people who disagreed with it.  No decision is too minor to not cause disagreement.  The thing is that once it's made then it's made, it becomes part of your reality.  You need to set the alternatives aside and work on implementing it.  If you absolutely must then write an essay on why it's the most boneheaded decision in the history of the universe and galactically stupid which you then hide away in your home office not to be seen or read again or rant for an hour on how how stupid the decision is, but only to your dog and in the privacy of your own home away from anyone remotely involved with your company.  Once you feel better and have gotten it all off your chest, commit to implementing the decision as best you can.

 Something worth noting in relation to this, and something that I find a lot of people seem to miss, is that in relation to your team this decision may be bad news.  It may even be a bad decision, in the context of your team.  The decision may create extra work for your team, it may impact on effectiveness, slow production or affect your ability to serve your customers.  But your team is not the company.  What may be bad for your team may be the best overall for the company.  Your team may lose out, even your customers may lose out, but the advantage to the rest of the company, and their customers, may far out weigh that.  Quite naturally, people tend to view decisions and changes through the lens of how it impacts on them and those immediately around them.  Sometimes you have to look at the whole picture and do what is best for the overall objective, even if some people lose out.  Ideally there would be an effort to keep things equitable and keep negatives to a minimum whilst maintaining the positives, but our world is some way from ideal.



Skype: stephenbooth_uk  | DiSC: 6137

"Start with the customer and work backwards, not with the tools and work forwards" - James Womack


waynef's picture


MadMarv may well have misinterpreted the intent of the cast BUT I think some of the responses have missed the opportunity to reiterate the learning opportunity and cast objectives and moved to justifying a position or a personal interpretation, like the one MadMarv posted we all have personal interpretations influenced by our environment, beliefs and attitudes. From a third party view of the conversation, some of the responses were maybe a little too emotive. When I hear words like ‘I don’t understand why’, I go probing for more details and look for the learning opportunity (theirs and mine) before putting forward any view I may have on the subject.


As Manager’s, the language we use when providing feedback or helping others grow is vital to the maintenance and growth of the individual and your relationship. Just my own personal opinion but how we react when using a medium that offers the chance to rethink before hitting submit can often be an accurate reflection of how we may react in real time, especially in stressful times. Sometimes, the words we end up using are real trust killers.


I use and see this site as a resource to help managers learn and develop; a safe environment to make mistakes BEFORE trying something in ones real world, build relationships, post views freely and learn from others more experienced. I would imagine that the experience levels and skills of people who access this site vary greatly which would be reflected in the thoughts or responses posted. And isn’t that variety what it is all about?


I would hope that if I post a comment that others don’t agree with, it would be dealt with a view to education, illumination and growth. I know I don’t agree with everyone on everything and i don't want everyone to agree with me always, that would be boring, but I appreciate the diversity that the differences we have bring to work and life


Wayne 3662

asteriskrntt1's picture


I hear what you are trying to say. And I am a big believer in Drucker's "communication is what the listener does", which places the onus on the delivery to be clear to the listener.  In this particular example, there is no mistaking the message - To not dwell on the alternatives that were not chosen and to reinforce the one which management chose. 

If Marv doesn't like that you have to deliver this message and think you should bash management, well that is a difference in opinion.  Leaping from that to saying M&M are telling people to lie is not an interpretation - it is a huge failure in thought process, leading to a totally incorrect conclusion, even for a young or aspiring manager. 

The only things one truly owns is their name and reputation.  If mine were bashed openly and incorrectly, I would be a bit emotive too. Maybe even more than a bit. 

waynef's picture

I apologise if I have misread the string here. 

My interpretation of the cast was that Marv did in fact mistake the message and Marv's post was emotive with a conclusion/interpretation that was incorrect and contained words that should have been reconsidered before submitting as they could be (were) read as inflammatory and poor form regardless of experience level.

My thought after reading the post was that as Marv really wasn't asking for clarification but putting forward or venting their thoughts, My belief is that as the owners of the content M&M should be the ones to accurately correct any misconceptions of the message. The rest of us are really putting forward our conclusions and opinoins based on what we heard and/or our experiences in similar situations.

My post was more about the fact that once Marv hit send the post existed. So if I was Marv's manager I have to address it, I now need to consider what and how I want to address (is there a history etc) and can it wait until the next O3 and if not when and what forum would be best 

Besides addressing the mistaken understanding of the concepts in the cast, first on my list to address would be the accusatory nature of the message and the impact that had, until I had the chance to talk to Marv and probe deeper I would like to think the accusation that many of us have interpreted may not have been the intent. Regardless whether the intent was there or not, part of the solution I want is the addressing of any 'bashing' of someone's reputation in a manner that the aggrieved felt their concerns addressed. I agree that they have every right to protect what they own

I also believe that everything we do should be a learning opportunity. If we were to take this message string, change the names to protect the innocent and turn it into a case study to avoid similar future occurences:

1. What would some of the key learnings be?

2. If you were facilitating the debrief what could the first author have done differently? Subsequent authors?

3. If you were the first author's manager, how would you approach addressing this in your next O3?

Anyway. If I am off track just ignore

Happy New Year to all



asteriskrntt1's picture

  1. The solution will vary depending on how badly one behaves & whom they insult/accuse
  2. recognize that people can have different opinions and that in most cases, someone having an opinion that differs from yours does not make them bad or evil.
  3. managers and directs don't always make good decisions
  4. The author should have messaged Mark, Mike or Wendii before posting. M & M & Wendii are amazing in their ability to respond to requests in a timely fashion. 
  5. In the workplace, vet you ideas privately or sleep on them a few days before telling your boss or a VP that you think they are unethical/stupid/racist/ etc.
  6. If this was my direct and the direct openly accused someone of being unethical in a public setting that I witnessed, my feedback would be something along the lines of: When you accuse someone like this in a public setting, it is 100% inappropriate.  Go home for a couple of days.  Right now. 

Some people might think #6 is too firm.  That is ok.  I don't think you are evil if we disagree :)