By September 19, 2012 0 Comments Read More →

Who is your Cato Fong? The case for constructive disagreement

Inspector Clouseau hired Cato Fong in time for the second movie of the Pink Panther franchise (A Shot in the Dark for you trivia buffs). As Clouseau’s servant, Cato had many responsibilities. Perhaps the most memorable of these was to attack his master when he least expected to help Clouseau tune his skills as an alert and capable physical force.

It’s easy to surround yourself with people who can validate and support your every decision as desired. Still, It’s important to fully explore your ideas; to be challenged in a way that strengthens them and your understanding of them. This ultimately helps bring clarity to goals and efficient ways to achieve them.

Having someone on your team who can constructively challenge whims and conventional thought is immensely valuable. That of course depends on every member of the team having the appetite and patience to deal with the designated devil’s advocate. I’ve been a witness to a work environment in which the director tired of having to explain himself to one of his employees. That employee was dispatched in a round of layoffs, the only victim in our office.

I was reminded of Cato and my own experiences while watching Margaret Heffernan‘s Dare to disagree TED Talk (see below).

Who is your Cato Fong?


About the Author:

Mark Blevis is a digital public affairs strategist and President of, an integrated digital communications, public affairs and research company. His work focuses on the role of digital tools and culture on issues and reputation management. He also leads research into how Canadian opinions are shaped through online content and interactions.