Grit in the Oyster


One of the key skills which I observe in great entrepreneurs (and brilliant business advisors) is the ability to give and accept really effective challenge. Getting this right is the key to developing a growth mind-set, creating a learning culture in an organisation and continually improving what you do. Here are some pointers to improve how you challenge:



Think of challenge as information gathering, not as a way to convey information. Great challenge is about learning and understanding – ask questions in order to develop your understanding, rather than present your view in the hope of developing someone else’s.

Think about how hard to push, it is important to follow lines of thought and questioning through, but becoming belligerent (or boring) won’t advance the conversation or learning.

Remember that challenge is a team sport – it shouldn’t always be the same person bringing the challenge, and you should welcome being challenged yourself.

Listen. Challenge is a dance, not an attack.



Mistake opinion or anecdote for evidence. If you have a view on something be very clear whether this is backed up by reliable evidence. If what you have is an opinion, consider how to turn this into a testable hypothesis.

Challenge for the sake of it, it isn’t always useful to have someone in the room playing devil’s advocate. Sometimes it is purely disruptive and egotistical.

Define your personality through challenge – you may think you are the master of intellectual rigour and asking the tough questions, but if you can’t turn this off, listen well, or let others have a turn it is possible you are just being a bit of a dick.


Get this right and you can be the grit in the oyster, get it wrong and you run the risk of just being grit in a speedo.


Blog by Isla…


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