Strong Opinions, Weakly Held

I first heard this phrase from Jeff Atwood. I use it as a means of evaluating evaluating founders, investors, partners and potential employees. I want to work with people who have weakly held, strong opinions.

High-performing teams have a culture that encourages this type of thinking.

Weak opinions are wasteful

Silence is better than bullshit.

Weak opinions are a waste of time. You either have a good reason for believing something — or you don’t. Bigco meetings are an utter waste of time mostly because people feel compelled fill the air with weakly held opinions. The manager who rambles on … and on … and on … while the developer (with the actual answer) quietly sits there.

It’s ok not to know. It’s even better to admit it because saying “I don’t know” opens the door for figuring it out. “I don’t know but I’ll run a quick query and see what the data says”.

Strongly held opinions are destructive

Strongly held opinions are a curse in startups. The founder with the inalterable vision. The investor who won’t budge during board meetings. The “uncoachable” team. The manager who can’t reconcile “Jack needs to go.” The advisor who spend more time talking than listening.

Have strong opinions — and be ready to change them

You don’t know if you’re right.
 You never have enough data.
 But you absolutely have to act.
 And change direction when evidence proves you wrong.

Strong opinions, weakly held


Originally published at ScribbleIQ Blog.

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