"Let me just play devil's advocate for a minute. . . ."An exclusive excerpt published by the Fast Company from 10 Faces of Innovation, a new book by IDEO’s David Kelly.
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What's truly astonishing is how much punch is packed into that simple phrase. In fact, the devil's advocate may be the biggest innovation killer in America today. What makes this negative persona so dangerous is that it is such a subtle threat. Every day, thousands of great new ideas, concepts, and plans are nipped in the bud by devil's advocates.
Why is this persona so damning? Because a devil's advocate encourages idea wreckers to assume the most negative possible perspective, one that sees only the downside, the problems, the disasters-in-waiting. Once those floodgates open, they can drown a new initiative in negativity.
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At Ideo, we've developed 10 people-centric tools, talents, or personas for innovation. Although the list does not presume to be comprehensive, it does aspire to expand your repertoire. We've found that adopting one or more of these roles can help teams express a different point of view and create a broader range of innovative solutions.
And by adopting some of these innovation personas, you'll have a chance to put the devil's advocate in his place. So when someone says, "Let me play devil's advocate for a minute" and starts to smother a fragile new idea, someone else in the room may be emboldened to speak up and say, "Let me be an anthropologist for a moment, because I personally have watched our customers suffering silently with this issue for months, and this new idea just might help them." And if that one voice gives courage to others, maybe someone else will add, "Let's think like an experimenter for a moment. We could prototype this idea in a week and get a sense of whether we're onto something good." The devil's advocate may never go away, but on a good day, the 10 personas can keep him in his place. Or tell him to go to hell.
Really cool read.