Sunday, January 27, 2013

Devils Advocate is the Killer of Innovation & Collaboration

I am reading the "Ten Faces of Innovation" by Tom Kelley and in the intro there is a short discussion on the person who injects into a good, creative,free flowing discussion "Let me just play Devil's Advocate for a minute.." The author goes on how to discuss how this kills innovation by stopping discussion - " every day thousands of great new ideas, concepts, and plans are nipped in the bud by Devil's Advocates. Follow me some more on this-

I just finished another book "Group Genius" by Keith Sawyer and in chapter 4 they quote Alex Osborne from the advertising agency BBDO. "The Critical voice is the enemy of creativity". Having been around several "Devil's Advocates" in my career to include in combat, I have been conscious of this when I lead discussions where I am asking for input from peers and subordinates. If the purpose of the meeting/ discussion is to solicit ideas and feedback then I have made sure the right people,are at the table and I am listening to what they have to say. I believe that Ideas should be kept flowing and critical analysis put off for later. To be innovative leaders should refrain from CRUSHING discussion which is where ideas and concepts flow from.
Leadership Counts!

1 comment:



  1. Allegorically, one who takes an opposite position for testing a contention, or just to be perverse.

    The term 'Devil's advocate' was brought into English in the eighteenth century from the medieval Latin expression 'advocatus diaboli'. To describe someone as a Devil's advocate now is to suggest that they are mischievous and opposing, being opposite for it. In medieval Europe, Devil's advocate wasn't seen so contrarily; it was, similar to "chamberlain" or 'cordwainer', a vocation title.

    There are various mentions in Vatican records dating from the mid 1500s of a casual part called 'Diaboli Advocatus'. In 1587, the administration of Pope Sixtus V (disappointingly, there hasn't yet been a Sixtus the Sixth) established the formal post of Promoter of the Confidence, referred to informally as the 'Advocatus Diaboli', which surely must have been the same part as 'Diaboli Advocatus'. The set of working responsibilities wasn't especially onerous, until the point when someone was assigned for either beatification and canonization, and soon thereafter the 'Devil's Advocate' was required to draw up a list of arguments against the chosen one getting to be plainly blessed or consecrated.

    The first occasion when that the present type of the expression was used in print appears to be in the 1760 humorous content Impostors Identified:

    By rising up and having the genuine impact of the Devil's advocate.

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