Who Invited the Devil’s Advocate?

May 17, 2010


Seth Godin mentioned the devil’s advocate recently, and it hit a nerve. I do it all the time; I say…”I’m just playing devils advocate, but ….”, by which, of course, I mean, “I’m about to be really negative, i’m going to undermine what you just said, and please don’t take this the wrong way…BUT…..” .

I’m not alone in this; we all do it. For the most part, we feel like we are doing a service; often it’s a ‘Phew!’ moment, when we think, “Man! We might have developed that idea and got it really far before we thought of that problem! What a waste that would have been!”

I’ve talked about ideas quite a bit here, and the danger of bottling them up or restraining them for whatever reason. Often, I’ve realised that it’s the devil’s advocate that’s at fault. He’s not called the devil’s advocate without reason; The Devil is dangerous, and being too afraid of failure is dangerous too. Jump, I say. Take a risk, let your mind roam free without inviting the devil’s advocate in. Not always, and not forever. But for a while at least.

The point at which we bring in the devil’s advocate into the process is really the key. If we bring him in too early, we restrain the flow too much and cut off avenues that deserve exploration. If we bring him in too late, we risk all that time wasting we fear so much. Let’s not uninvite the devil’s advocate altogether – maybe just tell him the party starts a little later, and that he’s welcome then.



2 Responses to “Who Invited the Devil’s Advocate?”

  1. Neasa said

    Love it! I’m definitely guilty of that one. Timing is key.

  2. Excellent post! I will admit that that looking at a situation from multiple angles is necessary and makes for a better solution and your point on timing is spot on. I enjoyed the way you translated what is really being said when we hear someone announce that they are “just playing devil’s advocate”…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: