Business Practice: Dealing with a colleague’s bad idea

You feel your teammates have devised a shaky strategy. Can you avoid guilt by association?

Credit: Michael Meier

Oct 02, 2019

Business Practice is a collaboration between Chicago Booth Review and Chicago Booth’s Harry L. Davis Center for Leadership. Tell us how you’d deal with the situation below; once you submit your answer, you’ll be able to read and evaluate other readers’ answers, and they’ll be able to read and evaluate yours. Shortly after we stop accepting new answers, we’ll post an analysis of the results by Chicago Booth professor of behavioral science George Wu, and if you like, we will follow up with a personalized email explaining how other readers responded to your answer. Check out analysis of past Business Practice scenarios here.

You work in the corporate office of a national fast-casual restaurant as a marketing manager. Your boss, the VP of Marketing, has asked you and several of your colleagues—all peers in terms of your standing within the company—to put your heads together on a strategy for boosting weeknight dinner traffic. Several of your colleagues have made promising suggestions, but to your surprise, the idea that’s taken hold most firmly is the one from your fellow marketing manager Velma: planned shortages of certain staple menu items, designed to stoke demand.

You think this is a terrible idea, and although Velma’s personal powers of persuasion have helped her sell it to the rest of your group, you’re confident senior management will recognize it for the calamity it is, and it will reflect poorly on all of you. You have pointed out flaws in this strategy, politely, in two separate group meetings, but the group keeps moving toward presenting it. You do not want to be associated with this idea. What should you do?

Please describe how you would address this problem, including scripting any conversations you would have with Velma, your boss, your teammates, or anyone else you feel is relevant.

This Business Practice scenario is now closed to new responses. Thank you to everyone who offered their insights and helped evaluate answers. Check back soon for George Wu’s analysis of the answers we received.