In Early 70s, Israeli and Americans unanimously decided in a meeting that Egypt would not wage a war against Israel. Egypt, however, to the utter surprise and dismay of the Israelis did wage a war against Israel the following year. The consensus held by the expert committee framed by the Defense Ministry to analyze the possibility of a war proved wrong.
The failure of the committee decisions and group thinking made Israel come out with the formation of a new unit of research in the Defense Department something called Devil’s Advocate. According to 10th Man Rule, if there are 10 people in a room and nine of them agree, the role of the tenth man is to disagree and point out flaws in whatever decision the group has reached. The Tenth Man’s job is to challenge the conclusions arrived via conventional approach of pragmatism and logic. The aim is to look at things; creatively, independently, and from a fresh and new perspective, howsoever irrational it may be, to engage actively with and to reconsider the decision arrived at by the majority of the penal. The task of the Tenth Man is to explore alternative assumptions and worst-case scenarios.
A 50s Hollywood hit, ‘12 Angry Men’ portrays one man’s dissent with the rest of 11 jurists who are sitting around a case of a murder trial. One man, played by Henry Fonda, out of 12 goes by an element of “reasonable doubt in his mind”. He starts as a single solitary voice among the 12 members to vote the accused “not guilty” against the 11 votes of “guilty”. As the deliberation progresses the 12 member jury comes around the reasoning of the dissenter and votes the boy “not guilty”.
In World War Z, 2017 movie, one of the characters describes the 10th Man Rule as, “After several disasters that no one thought could happen, the Council decided that if a vote was unanimous against a possible outcome, one member would act as if it was absolutely going to happen, and trying to prevent it. This way, if they have a crisis, one man is prepared for it, and assumes directorship of the council for the duration of the crisis.”
The 10th Man discipline is one where the group intentionally appoints at least one person to serve as the dissenter. Disagreement as is obvious on no account does mean that the dissenter is disloyal or disobedient to the organization. Dissenter is as much a friend and a comrade as the rest of the group members who are seen in agreement! Probably more loyal than the agreeable ones!
Now coming to the institutions of our state, we see the downward trend in the progression curve. Many of our institutions do not deliver to the potential each institution was initially established for. One of the likely reasons could be the absence of the Tenth Man in the committees framed to arrive at the best decision. Disaster Management, emergency services and all such ‘mission critical institutions’ are supposed to remain in all-state-readiness and effective mode in the line of action provided the Tenth Man Rule is brought in over the deliberation table. The need of the hour is to find the loyal dissenter who sees what the conventions fail to perceive.