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.