Being Opinionated Is Good And Bad.

I am highly opinionated, and I prefer to stick to an opinion until proved wrong instead of navigating the uncertainty of multiple options. It is a binary search approach. I will always take one direction; if I am wrong, I can quickly exclude similar solutions with the same underlying fundamental principles.

Basic principle rarely fail, and if they do, they fail spectacularly so you cannot ignore them. This is good; and bad at the same time, but I still think the pros are more than the cons.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

The Cons

Being very opinionated in the tech field means believing in being straight with a solution when mapping a specific problem. It often means having a disruptive approach and seeing everything else as fundamentally wrong. Many problems have different answers, but quite often, only a few solutions are the most optimal.

Even if you are right, going with a specific solution without explaining it well could frustrate all the people looking into alternative solutions. They could take a lot more to get there, but you are destroying their opportunity to learn, and they will not like it.

The best thing you can do is explain why you are going with that idea and what times your solution worked in the past, or have some scientific evidence supporting your thesis.

If you are wrong, you will be perceived as terribly wrong, and people will remind you how you were so passionate about your bad idea. Also, you may have convinced many other people about your wrong view, and now they could feel deceived. You will have to gain trust again, and it will not be straightforward; if you fail multiple times in a row, then it is best not to be too opinionated and fall back to a more conservative approach.

The Pros

One of the benefits of being opinionated is to invest your energy only on one idea at a time, and I seriously think we, as humans, are not good at multi-processing mental work. Also, to choose something so strongly, you have to be entirely convinced about what you are speaking about. And to be convinced, you need to study the topic quite profoundly and do a lot of research. This process automatically filters out a lot of flawed theories that you immediately disregard in the first stage of picking a solution.

Another great advantage of being opinionated is that people immediately know your idea about a specific topic. You will save quite a lot of time avoiding explaining your position all the time. People can pre-process your opinion and either make it theirs or find an excellent way to make a counter-argument.

Other people can give you a lot of evidence and data to convince you, and if they can do it, then it is clear their idea is better than yours. It is a great time to change your mind; being opinionated does not mean you are not listening, nor that you always stick to your first idea!

Debating ideas is a good exercise, and it is the root of dialectic.

Being opinionated means being responsible

If you have a clear opinion, it is straightforward to carry it on in front of an audience and propose it to others. It means you will be responsible for your idea and give you the energy to move ahead with your solution.

On the other side, if you are not opinionated, you could move from one opinion to another quickly, making yourself feel not responsible for any proposed solutions or not advocating for any of them. This behavior is dangerous in organizations that have to make decisions quickly and eventually fail fast instead of finding a solution that will never arise because too many people are not opinionated enough to be heard.

Conclusion

Here is my strategy to solve a problem. I study the context, the problem, the solutions, and most importantly, the underlying principles behind a solution. I then propose a more specific recipe to solve the issue, and I invite others to discuss it, but I constantly challenge them until they either agree or prove me wrong.

In both cases, we will find a suitable solution (if one exists).

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Engineering Manager at Jimdo, former CIO at Arduino, DevOps at Cloud9 and PeopleBrowsr. @mastrolinux

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Luca Cipriani

Luca Cipriani

Engineering Manager at Jimdo, former CIO at Arduino, DevOps at Cloud9 and PeopleBrowsr. @mastrolinux

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