TMD’s 10th Voice

It’s difficult to be the single voice of dissent in a group; the one that doesn’t like the idea that everyone else loves or the lone objection to a plan that the group has all signed off on.

Been there before? How comfortable were you speaking up when everyone else was already aligned on something else?

Inclusion is a product of culture, but it’s also very much nurtured and sustained through good leadership. It’s harder than we want to admit, and it takes considerable effort and must be consistently encouraged and supported over time before our teams will feel confident and assured that their voices will not only be heard, but wanted, encouraged and frankly, expected.

I’ve been a proponent of process for most of my career. I believe that if you want anything done consistently, it starts and ends with a clearly defined process. But can you build a process that contributes to an inclusive culture?

We think so. TMD has an approach called the 10th Voice. This is a deliberate process designed to empower inclusion, diversity and equality among our team members, clients and partners.

Sea of black plastic-looking human symbols with one glowing orange human symbol in the middle.

Premise: If nine people agree on the same idea, it’s the responsibility of the 10th person to advocate the opposite. The 10th Voice ensures all opinions, perspectives, and options are heard without bias, prejudice, or malice. This kind of empowerment is encouraged for any interaction; it is fundamental to an inclusive culture and instilling diversity in thought is simply how we operate.

To create the opportunity for the 10th Voice, we designate a senior team member to act as the alternative voice when brainstorming or ideating, whether this be for strategy, planning, creative or content. This approach helps encourage more junior members of our team to join in without the pressure of being the catalyst. The person who acts as the 10th Voice presents the idea or question that opens the door for others to voice thoughts they may not have been comfortable sharing when so many others are agreeing on something else. We do this not only with our internal team, but with clients and partners too.

And it’s probably not surprising to learn that where there is one voice, there are almost always others…

A balanced perspective shouldn’t be a privilege reserved for those with seniority and title. We have perhaps one of the most diverse workplace cultures in our history to date. It would be a real shame to not learn as much from our colleagues as we can, regardless of gender, race or age.

Inclusion makes us better; it creates the opportunity to produce higher quality work and ensures we truly bring the very best to our clients and partners. The 10th Voice is one of the ways TMD is working to make sure we institutionalize inclusion so that we don’t rely solely on the best efforts of the same few, but create a simple mechanism to open up the discussion so that everyone in the room has an opportunity to make any idea better.

Article by Dave Cliche, President & CEO at TMD