Ritual Dissent

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It is a knowledge management tool which offers a formalized way to share criticism and disagreement for the purpose of learning and increased resilience. In all cases, it is a forced listening technique, not a dialogue or discourse. It is used to test and enhance proposals, stories or ideas by subjecting them to challenges or positive alternatives.


Ritual Dissent is meant to simulate the process of delivering new ideas to management or decision-makers, and to open up new thinking to necessary criticism and iterations. The process is meant to enforce listening, without disruption. A creative and useful way to get constructive critical feedback.

Target groups

  • Adults.

Spoke person, facilitators to take notes.


The basic approach involves a spokesperson presenting a series of ideas to a group who receives them in silence. The spokesperson then turns their chair, so that their back is to the audience and listens in silence while the group either attacks (dissent) or provides alternative proposals (assent). The ritualization of not facing the audience de-personalizes the process, and the group setting (others will be subject to the same process) means that the attack or alternative are not personal, but supportive. Listening in silence without eye contact, increases listening. More details here: http://www.mspguide.org/tool/ritual-dissent