Undergraduate Blog / Career Development

Challenging the Norm in the Workplace

Referencing a venture capital panel I attended last spring, I recall an investor from China telling the audience about one of his first trips to Israel. He explained that during a company presentation, the two Israeli co-founders started arguing with each other about a minor detail for a short period of time and then went back to presenting their company as if nothing strange had just occurred. The Chinese investor thought the argument seemed a lot more severe and unusual than it actually was at the moment. While arguing in a professional setting may seem strange, this is actually very commonplace in Israel. It has to go with challenging the norm in order to fuel innovation. Israelis don’t simply accept something if they don’t agree with it wholeheartedly. Co-workers in my office and and even younger employees will challenge their bosses about something with which they are not in agreement. This isn’t considered disrespectful; in fact, it demonstrates the passion that Israelis have for their work. It connects back to the entrepreneurial climate that exists in both startups and large companies in Israel. Moreover, many Israelis will ask a lot of questions during work in order to get different perspectives on a certain idea. I happily provide my boss and co-workers with my opinions and viewpoints when I believe that I can add value to a certain project. The Israeli workplace is a setting where bureaucracy is set aside for ideas and opinions to be shared freely across all ranks of the corporate hierarchy.