AI Is The Rage. Yom Kippur Lesson Makes Leaders Soar.

Israeli flag and digital technology - remembering the Yom Kippur War


Headlines abound informing us that artificial intelligence, blockchain, and virtual reality will play larger roles in our lives, wreaking havoc in C-suites today. As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, we are reminded of a pivotal lesson in history, one that extends far beyond the battlefield and into today’s corporate boardrooms. The conflict, which pitted Israel against a coalition of Arab states in 1973, has etched its place in history as a harrowing example of how even the most capable leaders can fall victim to the cognitive trap coined by Irving Janis in 1972 known as ‘groupthink.’ In this article, we will explore how this historical conflict illuminates the profound relationship between dissent and critical thinking in decision-making.


As Israelis were making preparations for the solemn holiday, Prime Minister Golda Meir and the country’s military leaders were united in their belief that Arab nations would not launch an attack on Israel during Yom Kippur. Their collective confidence in this assessment was unwavering. Little did they know that a fateful turn of events would soon challenge their steadfast belief. The Yom Kippur War, a conflict of immense historical significance, serves as a stark reminder of the consequences that can unfold when dissenting voices are suppressed, and consensus is left unquestioned.

Misguided Confidence

The Meir government’s unwavering collective confidence in their assessment would soon take an unexpected wrong turn in the weeks leading up to Yom Kippur. This pivotal turn of events would ultimately give birth to the concept of the “tenth man” or devil’s advocate whose role is to disagree and point out flaws in the group’s decision. Far from being disloyal, the tenth man does the group a service by ensuring the best reasoning is applied and decisions are made with greater scrutiny. The tenth man became a metaphorical figure, symbolizing the critical importance of dissent and the necessity to challenge consensus, even when it appears rock-solid. In the case of Israel in 1973, the absence of a dissenting voice—a figurative tenth man—meant that crucial warning signs and alternative viewpoints were overlooked, acting as a lasting reminder of the perils of groupthink, a lesson etched into history by the Yom Kippur War.

The Tenth Man in Enterprises, Startups, and the Insurance Industry

The concept of the ‘tenth man’ extends beyond international diplomacy, holding significant relevance for various domains, including enterprises, startups, and the insurance industry. In the corporate world, large organizations can benefit from fostering a culture of constructive dissent, leading to innovative solutions and averted crises, breaking the shackles of groupthink that stymie innovation.

For startups, the Tenth Man principle is equally crucial. Entrepreneurs must be willing to challenge their own assumptions and even unlearn. In our case at DealRockit Technologies, we took bias and tenth man to heart. We made a conscious decision not to move forward at any stage of our development until we could overcome and satisfy critical objectives and objections. This approach allowed us to identify potential pitfalls and pivot, when necessary, significantly increasing our chances of success.

In the insurance industry, where attracting new talent is a persistent challenge, the Tenth Man Rule offers a unique perspective. Insurance companies, often steeped in tradition, can benefit from embracing diverse viewpoints and innovative approaches to address evolving employee needs and attract fresh talent to the industry.

Vas Narasimhan, the CEO of Novartis, recently acknowledged the value of pivoting and “shaking the tree” by bringing in an outsider’s perspective. By recognizing the necessity for change and actively seeking input from external sources, Narasimhan serves as a prime example of how dissenting voices play a critical role in propelling innovation and shaping strategic evolution. This approach allowed the company to embrace innovation and significantly redefine its strategic direction, resulting in a remarkable enhancement of stakeholder value.

Tenth Man Rules

As we stand at the crossroads of history, marking the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, the concept of “groupthink” takes center stage. In today’s highly charged and polarized world, this phenomenon, characterized by a collective desire for conformity and consensus, has never been more relevant.

The Tenth Man Rule serves as a reminder that in a rapidly changing world, the ability to question assumptions, seek diverse perspectives, and embrace dissenting voices is essential for success in various sectors, from diplomacy to entrepreneurship and beyond. This mindset fosters continuous improvement, adaptability, and resilience, ultimately shaping a brighter future for organizations and industries. It also underscores the importance of dissent and critical thinking, reminding us all that in challenging times, having a figurative “tenth man” who dares to take on the status quo can make all the difference, ending the divisiveness and bringing us all together.

To learn more about our unique tenth man services and scalable platform products, contact us directly. Feel free to share this article with your company’s leadership and colleagues and discover how we can swiftly transform the playing field and help make you the biggest winner of all.


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